To be successful you have to dream big and take every opportunity with two hands. Rotorua's Adrienne Whitewood knows plenty about both.

The fashion designer's Eruera St store Ahu Boutique is packed with elegant garments full of Māori flair and cultural significance, which have caught the eye of the powers-that-be at Te Papa museum.

Last week, Whitewood announced her latest collection, Pītau, a collaboration with the national museum. Traditionally a designer of women's clothing, this collection also includes her first range of menswear.

"A person from the Te Papa museum was interested in purchasing some of my range for a collection. We started the conversation there and then a year later I got a call from one of the buyers for Te Papa saying they wanted to buy my collection and do a collaboration.

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"It was such a great collaboration. My iwi is in residence there, Rongowhakaata, and Te Papa found out I had that connection. We worked together to create the Pītau print. It was pretty exciting."

Six months of tireless work and research went into the collection.

"I didn't realise what hard work it would be, but I'm really happy with it. I went overseas quite a few times, just sourcing fabrics and trying to figure out how the collection would work.

Adrienne Whitewood's latest collection, Pītau, will be sold in her store Ahu Boutique, at Te Papa Museum and online. Photo / Supplied
Adrienne Whitewood's latest collection, Pītau, will be sold in her store Ahu Boutique, at Te Papa Museum and online. Photo / Supplied

"Working on menswear for the first time was exciting, I wasn't sure what fabrics would be suitable, but I watched my husband going to work and the way he chose his work shirts.

"It's an everyday men's work shirt that I wanted to design - I think that was most suitable for my market."

Whitewood opened Ahu Boutique five years ago and, with business thriving, she is ready to take on the world.

"I want to own the high-end contemporary Māori print market for men and women, that's my goal. I had a dream one time that I went to church and everybody was wearing someone else's label and it was similar to mine. It was like a premonition that if I don't go out and try to take on the big market or try to own something, someone else is going to do it.

Rotorua fashion designer Adrienne Whitewood's latest range of clothing is a collaboration with Te Papa and includes menswear. Photo / Stephen Parker
Rotorua fashion designer Adrienne Whitewood's latest range of clothing is a collaboration with Te Papa and includes menswear. Photo / Stephen Parker

"I feel like I am slowly getting there, I'm always trying to improve the quality of what I do. I never give up on my dreams - my ultimate goal is to be the number one high-end indigenous brand for print in the world. In this industry, perception is reality, you just put yourself out there and take every opportunity," she said.

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The Pītau collection will debut at the Tiki Āhua fashion show this weekend, which fittingly has the theme of Kura Mōwai, Sacred Waters, which celebrates the joining of different ideas, artists and designers and the female power to create.

The collection is available online at adriennewhitewood.com/collections/te-papa-collection.