By Natural Design

Shona Tawhiao, Whero is Red, NZFW 2010, Collection ‘Te Whiri’, Model Ariel Urlich, Photograph Michael Ng

By Natural Design

Sandra Conte

1 February 2014

Shona Tawhiao / Ngai Te Rangi is a designer, artist and weaver of traditional Maori techniques creating unique garments and accessories made from harakeke (native flax).

Shona's wearable art has been seen across film and television screens, fashion runways, theatre sets and showcased in art galleries around the world. Her designs are in high demand but grounded to the land on which she stands, her home in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand.

Having studied contemporary and traditional Maori Fibre Weaving at Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland but with no formal training in fashion, Shona jokingly says it all started when she was eight, making Barbie doll clothes. Who would have guessed that she would move on to London, Paris and Australia with her designs, along with invitations to Canada, Berlin and Monte Carlo.

In terms of the creative process, Shona explains, “My best work is usually in a dream then I sketch it and weave it”. Asked what she loves most about her work? “I love how our old people have passed on a traditional art form and I’m lucky enough to be able to carry it on hundreds of years later. I’m happiest when I’m creating and my main material, harakeke, is everywhere in NZ. My culture and environment are what inspire me in everything I do”.

Model Dream May Langley and Designer Shona Tawhiao Indigenous Fashion Runway of L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival 2013 Cultural Program. Photograph by Wayne Qulliam.

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