She has overcome tragic losses and health hiccups to take her creative talents to Fashion Week catwalk twice over.

A treadle sewing machine was Taongahuia Maxwell's first tool of trade.

She was 10 when she sat in front of it at her grandmother's Te Kuiti home making a shirt from curtain fabric.

Her nan, Mata Turner, bequeathed her the machine and Taongahuia continues to use it – not for shirt making but for producing the Māori-inspired fashion and accessory ranges that have become her signature pieces.

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These aren't just any old garments or fancy-looking appendages, they're cultural statements which have

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Taongahuia Maxwell (Nee Te Kanawa)