Ngāi Tahu Pounamu goes to New York

Twelve pieces of Ngāi Tahu Pounamu carved by Te Waipounamu Māori Heritage Centre in Hokitika, will be showcased with other luxury New Zealand products at Couture Fashion Week in New York on Saturday 7 September.

Couture Fashion Week is a multi-day event showcasing couture and luxury fashion. The event is staged twice a year in New York and is attended by upscale consumers, invited VIPs, the press and high-end store buyer. It has been running for 18 years.

Lucy Carter, Project Co-ordinator at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, said the opportunity to show Ngāi Tahu Pounamu product on the world stage with other highly-skilled and respected international designers was a proud moment.

“What is particularly meaningful is the chance to collaborate with the significant design talent emerging locally in New Zealand, and to further showcase the beauty of Ngāi Tahu traditional and contemporary pounamu jewellery design to an overseas market. We hope this opportunity will further cement New Zealand’s stellar reputation as a high-quality, creative influence on world couture fashion,” she says.

The twelve pieces of carved pounamu will join New Zealand merino and leather in RAW, a bespoke collection by New Zealand designers, presented by NZ Hat & Hair Art of Timaru. This year, NZ Hat & Hair will exhibit hats and hair art in the New Yorker Hotel in downtown Manhattan, in addition to staging a catwalk show of its own.

The company’s event manager, Denise Whyte (Ngāti Mamoe, Waitaha), of Timaru said securing a catwalk show at the event was a significant coup and she was proud her New Zealand-themed show would be seen internationally.

“RAW is unique and this will be a great opportunity to show the world how beautiful our natural products are. A number of the hats have a Māori theme and it is an honour for us to be able to show Ngāi Tahu Pounamu as part of the range,” she says.

The NZ Hat & Hair Art Awards started a decade ago as part of the Timaru Rose Festival. It has grown to become a significant event on the local calendar, attracting entrants from all over New Zealand and Australia. Denise Whyte, who took over the event this year, plans to grow the event further and is excited to have had requests to participate from the Shanghai Fashion Design School.

Denise and a support team of eight family members and designers leave for New York on Thursday, 22 August. Fifteen hats and costumes by ten New Zealand designers will feature in the New York show.