Indigenous | Kiri Nathan

Kiri Nathan makes history on the runway

Designer Kiri Nathan opened Kahuria, New Zealand Fashion Week today with her collection, Te Kuneroa. She’s the first Māori to be given the honour on the country’s biggest fashion platform.

Kīngitanga representative Ngā Wai hono i te pō Paki says, “How can I describe the importance of her achievement so we must thank Kiri for this achievement. For a long time, Māori have been trying to get this fashion industry to turn to us, the Māori people.”

Nathan gives credit to the prominent Māori who modelled for her.

“I’m exhausted but happy and very fortunate because of them, Hawaiki Tū, Ria, Rāwiri, Teeks and Mr G. It was just like one after another but not because of any other reason other than because they stand for something within Te Ao Māori and it was just beautiful to have everyone in there,” she says.

Her showcase of Te Kuneroa is a journey of Māori fashion through time.

“The pūrākau (story) we told on the runway today through the collection was Te Kuneroa, the evolution of Māori clothing, and so we started back at pre-contact 1600s, came through to the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s, and then we looked to the future, so we started with muka and we ended with muka because in order to move forward we have to look back.”

Two of her fans and good friends, Kārena and Kasey Bird, paid tribute to Nathan.

“It is about time Māori fashion is celebrated. This is like the Met Gala of Māoridom today, and it’s beautiful to see everyone turn up for this event,” Kārena Bird says.

Nathan plans to attend and support all Māori designer showcases at New Zealand Fashion Week.