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Māori fashion scales Great Wall of China

Photo source: Kāhui Māori Fashion Collective

A team of Māori designers and photographers have returned home to Aotearoa after spending two weeks networking in China.

The group of designers, known as Kāhui Māori Fashion Collective (MFC), were led by Kiri Nathan.  During the trip they were exposed to the largest fabric and manufacture markets in the world.

Nathan, of Ngāpuhi, says they met with potential buyers and industry heavyweights, including Alibaba T-Mall global, Shang Xia, Lane Crawford Shanghai and other networks associated with Shanghai Fashion Week.

 Photo source: Kāhui Māori Fashion Collective

Kāhui Māori Fashion Collective

Nathan established the Kāhui MFC because she was disheartened by the New Zealand industry, which she says is unwilling to help their fellow creatives and entrepreneurs.

“The New Zealand fashion industry can be extremely isolating and is not known for kindness and sharing.  I wanted to have a go at changing that culture.”

She says Māori fashion is relatively unknown and often stereotyped as 'koru on fabric shirts'.

The aim is for Māori fashion to be recognised and valued, both nationally and internationally, for its quality and unique point of difference.

Photographer: Damien Nikora

Highlights of the trip

For designer Kohi Woodman (Ngāpui) of Kaikohe, the trip was an opportunity to learn how to operate her own prosperous business from an isolated region.

“Opening the door to China and e-commerce platforms will see designers from our smaller regions reaching business success without having to move to larger cities,” says Nathan.

Kāhui Māori shoot in back alley of Chinese fabric market

#KĀHUIMĀORI During their visit to China, a team of Māori designers and photographers did a spontaneous photoshoot in the back alleys of a Chinese fabric market. To learn more about their trip read Video by James Rua

Posted by Te Ao Māori News on Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Another highlight was photographer Damien Nikora's (Ngāti Kahungunu) photo shoot on the Great Wall of China, with models wearing Māori brands.

In the back alleys of a Chinese fabric market the group was also offered a full access pass at the Imperial Springs Resort and were invited to shoot in the chairman's private museum at the resort.

Photographer: Damien Nikora

Those who attended the trip included Kiri Nathan, Jason Nathan, Damien Nikora, James Rua, Mitchell Vincent, Nichola Te Kiri, Astley Nathan, Chanel Taylor,  Jacob Coutie, Te Orihau Karaitiana, Bobby Campbell-Luke, Ryan Turner, Kohi Woodman, Missy Armstrong and Czarina Wilson.