She is a PHD student, an art teacher, a fashion designer and a mother, and now Marton-based Erana Kaa has been selected to showcase her clothing at New Zealand Fashion Week.

Kaa will show her collection of garments alongside four others in the emerging category of the Miromoda Annual Fashion Design Competition this month.

The competition showcases the work of aspiring Māori designers.

"It's going to be full on but I'm excited," Kaa said.


Kaa teaches art around the Rangitikei district and said she has wanted to enter the competition for a few years but couldn't commit her time and financially.

Due to a creative grant from the Earle Creativity Trust, she had access to funded machinery and fabric and began preparing a collection.

Kaa began creating in November and the collection started to come together in February to meet the April deadline.

She focused on conceptual development first and then looked at the fabric where a lot of pattern draughting and problem-solving come into play, she said.

The competition showcases the work of aspiring Maori designers. Photo/ Supplied
The competition showcases the work of aspiring Maori designers. Photo/ Supplied

Pepper Pot is the name of her collection. It is based on her mum who left Northland due to hardship and to pull herself out of poverty decided to urbanise herself and raise her family in Blenheim.

Kaa said she grew up being one of the only Māori families in her community.

"I'm one of many Māori who decided from an urbanised Māori culture, we have a sort of bicultural identity that we've kind of got to navigate through," Kaa said.

"You almost have to wear two hats so it's that idea of that not knowing where to fit."


Pepper Pot displays colours that are garish and bold but are also muted and muddy to show contrast, she said.

Pinks, greens and yellows are muted down to mustard, olives and dusky pinks.

She uses natural and synthetic fibres and uses manufacturers' patterns to contrast with hand-painted patterns.

"I try to teeter on the edge of becoming visually unpleasant, teetering right on that cusp.

"To me they're harmonious but it's pushing it almost to disharmony."

All garments have zero fastenings so everything is loose with no zips or buttons.

Kaa has always been fascinated with fashion and completed levels 1 and 2 in 2017 at UCOL.

Her UCOL tutor, Stephanie West, helped to support her when getting ready to enter the competition by opening up studio space and offering a hand of guidance, Kaa said.

Kaa is hoping Fashion Week will help to set up her other brand of clothing Tutu, which means to be rebellious.

"It's amazing what you can pull out under pressure that's what I'm hoping.

"Yeah I'll learn a lot, but it will prove to me that I can do it," Kaa said.

Over the next three to four years she will continue studying a PHD in creative arts focusing on textile and fashion design with the hope of developing a collection based on a karanga, a Maori woman's calling.