Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Tonga's Olympic flag-bearer Pita Taufatofua modelling in tonight's Pacific Fusion Fashion Show in Auckland

Flag bearer from Tonga Pita Taufatofua leds in his team at the Grand Opening of the Olympic Summer Games 2016. Photo / Photosport
Flag bearer from Tonga Pita Taufatofua leds in his team at the Grand Opening of the Olympic Summer Games 2016. Photo / Photosport

Tonga's Olympic flag-bearer is back from Brazil and his first big move will be modelling in a fashion show in Auckland tonight.

Pita Taufatofua will be among those showcasing Pasifika and Maori designer wear from around the country at the inaugural Pacific Fusion Fashion Show.

The 32-year-old - Tonga's first taekwondo athlete at the Olympics - became an online sensation after he showed up at the Rio opening ceremony wearing traditional Tongan wear and glistening in coconut oil.

Director of the show, Nora Swann, said they were excited to have Taufatofua, a part-time model, included in the show given his new-found international fame.

"We were right behind Pita in his lead up to Rio. We secured him as a model for our show before he broke the internet at the Olympics.

"It was exciting to see him represent Tonga on the international stage and all the attention he received couldn't have happened to a nicer guy,'' Swann said.

"He has been getting invitations from all over the world and we were concerned he might not be available for our show. But he assured us that he honours his commitments. We just feel privileged that he will be on our runway.''

Several upcoming and established designers will show off their wares tonight.

The event will also include a competition, a showcase of designs created by students at the Sewtec Fashion Academy and a live interactive styling show offering guests ideas on how to mix and match outfits.

Swann said the event, which will be held at the Andrew Simms Botany premises in East Tamaki, was also about paying tribute to the South Auckland.

"We chose a venue in South Auckland because we wanted to host a high-end fashion experience here in our neighbourhood.

"The show is a unique event - not just a fashion showcase, but a competition for the designers and models, with a pop-up shop allowing you to purchase straight from the runway.

"It has already exceeded our expectations and we have learned to expect the unexpected when you create something fresh. A high-end fashion show in South Auckland was just a dream and now it has become a reality."

- NZ Herald

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