Artist and designer Shona Tawhiao (Ngai Te Rangi, Whakatōhea, Te Whanau Āpanui) has made and exhibited her distinct style of raranga woven work for 25 years.
Based in Mount Maunganui New Zealand, the mother of three was trained in traditional Maori raranga weaving techniques and methods, by the renowned weaver, Digress Te Kanawa at Unitec Insititute of Technology.
The fusing of her love of fashion with her specialised abilities has enabled Shona to create Haute Couture from flax fibre known to Māori as harakeke. This has resulted in her unique style being dubbed “Harakeke Couture”.
Shona’s award-winning collections of Harakeke Couture have been presented at New Zealand Fashion Week since 2010. She has also won the Villa Maria Estate Cult Couture premier award as an entrant in 2007, 2010 and 2013.
Shona has exhibited her works at home and internationally at MaMo Arts Festival in Honolulu, Chapel St Roch in Paris and also in London as part of a Pacific Fashion event. While in England she was also invited to present her work at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich to a group of museum curators gathered from around the world.
Shona has regularly shown at the Indigenous Fashion Unearthed showcase in Melbourne since 2013 and has also put her design skills to good use in indigenous film and television too. As well as producing sets, she has worked in the art and costume departments for films’ Maori Merchant of Venice, River Queen and many others.
In 2012 Shona designed costumes for ‘The Maori Troilus and Cressida’ that opened
Shakespeare’s Olympics at The Globe Theatre in London to rave reviews. This led to her being nominated and winning the Brancott Estate ‘Best Costume Designer of the Year’ at The Chapman Tripp Theatre awards in Wellington New Zealand.
Her talent is exquisite and undeniable.
Currently, Shona’s focus is on global opportunities to engage international audiences. This will inevitably lead to an increase in the awareness of contemporary Māori art, weaving, Haute fashion and the artist herself.