In five words, describe your place in the sector.
Willingness to be of service.
What first drew you to the sector i.e. Do you have a particular memory of a moment that got you hooked?
A number of memories have drawn me to the sector, moreso unconsciously in the background. I was a museum kid at Te Manawa and my parents had a café there. I recall sitting with curators and following the GA staff around. When I graduated from design school I decided to do a PG Dip in Visual and Material Culture which helped answer some questions I had been surfacing with my work. But the real hook was when I met Maia Nuku – the African & Oceanic curator at The Metropolitan in New York. I’d found myself at Ora gallery deep in conversation with artists Visesio Siasau and his wife Serene Tay, along with Shona Tawhiao who all happened to be staying with Maia in her Harlem apartment. Nek minit we had formed the Manahatta Wahine crew – following Maia around on store room tours across New York. The most significant of which was our visit to the Brooklyn Museum and learning about their collection of Hawaiian Lei-niho-palaoa necklaces. So many things resonated from this memory: seeing taonga in an obtuse space, the careful craftsmanship and untouched condition of these necklaces, the materials used, their significance and status attached to them.
What challenges have you faced in your career so far?
I thought I wanted to be a designer but quickly realised I didn’t want to work in fast fashion. I really care about our environment, cultural appropriation, ethical employment and designing for pacific peoples. I also found myself referring to past artisans, indigenous designers and navigating through their philosophies. The Tautai Pacific Arts Trust internship was an opportunity to revisit some thought I had engaged with in my Masters of Design. I always thought coming from a design background would hinder my internship here but have found people to be very supportive and open in my approaches, if not encouraging me to comment from that perspective. I still have a lot to learn and hope my knowledge of the museum will grow from this experience.
Has anything or anyone in particular provided you with support?
The Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust have been like aiga to me in their support, along with the NZ History and Pacific Cultures team - every day I am in awe of how woke and hardworking the folks here at Te Papa are. In addition to this would be my Miromoda whanau who have been encouraging in keeping me engaged and challenged with the fashion sector from a pacific island perspective.
What do you think people at your own level bring to the sector?
I feel like we bring the outside in, if not the inside out. Outside I’m always trying to hustle and align both worlds to work and engage with each other. There’s so much rope here it’s just a matter of who’s pulling.
What is a positive change you would like to see in the sector?
I would like to think that the service I have been privileged in providing Te Papa helps better represent, provoke, teach and engage with my generation.
What is your karaoke song?
Has to be Curtis Mayfield – ‘Move on Up’. He’s my style icon, dance floor moves, and occasional wake up jam.