Shona Tawhiao is a self employed Maori Fibre Artist and Designer based in Avondale Auckland. She attended Unitec in 1994 and 1995, tutored by Kahutoi Te Kanawa. Here she learnt the skills of traditional Maori Weaving. Shona found inspiration from all forms of Maori Art and Raranga began the journey to further her artistic expression.
Shona started ‘Takirua Weavers’ with Joy Wikitera in 1996; together they stocked various retail outlets with the highest quality woven art and kete. She has worked in the wardrobe and art departments for Film, Television and also Music Videos. She has also been the main designer and producer for sets on Maori Television. Shona has made pieces for the Maori Merchant of Venice, Hercules, Xena, River Queen and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.
Shona has exhibited extensively and in 1998 she was part of ‘Urupatu’ set on the confiscation line in Taneatua Tuhoe. Here she installed three 3.5-1.5 metre woven panels made from builder’s paper in a cow paddock.
From 2003-2005 Shona and Judy Hohaia were employed to weave the front and back walls of the ‘Unitec Marae’ under the guidance of Lionel Grant. This was a huge job for Shona and working along Lionel was a great inspiration and honour. From this experience Shona learnt that there were more opportunities for her to explore with Raranga.
In Matariki 06 she had a garment feature in the calendar ‘Nga Rangatira o Te Ao”. For Matariki 07, Shona created seven woven bodices, which represented each of the seven sisters.
Late in 2006 she was commissioned to create two pieces for ‘The Westin Hotel’ in Auckland’s Viaduct. Early in the project Shona viewed the shell of the hotel space to understand what the architects and interior designers were envisaging. Shona created 3 woven panels for the reception desks and a 2 metre long woven waka for the stair well.
In 2007 Shona won the Premier Award at the ‘Manuka Villa Maria Cult Couture’ show. Organisers of the ‘World of Wearable Arts 2008’ saw her winning garment and invited Shona to enter ‘WOW’. They had no Tangata Whenua representation so Shona has entered and will attend the show in September 08 in Wellington. Currently Shona has three garments travelling to the 10th ‘Festival of the Arts’ in Pagopago with Suzanne Tamaki, which will be part of the fashion show.
For Matariki 08 Shona was a designer in ‘E Whitu Nga Whetu’. This show has lead to Shona being invited to exhibit a garment at ‘Air New Zealand Fashion Week 2008’. This is an exciting achievement for Shona and will allow her work to be seen by a worldwide fashion audience and industry in turn showcasing the best that Maori Art and Culture has to offer the World.
Shona Tawhiao’s NZ Fashion Week 2010 Haute Couture collection ‘Te Whiri’ from the Miromoda Showcase.
Photos courtesy of Shona Tawhiao