Taongahuia Maxwell

Nataria Rolleston models a cape designed by Taongahuia Maxwell.

Studying Gives Practical Boost


Taongahuia Maxwell has been making clothes since she was a little girl, but decided to enrol at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology to boost her practical skills.

She had previously completed a degree in Māori art and co-owns a retail in store in Rotorua, called Iti Gifts – Toa Māori, but she says she wanted to learn the practical side of fashion design.

So she signed up to complete a Bachelor of Creative Technologies degree, majoring in fashion and textiles with Toi Ohomai and she is already reaping the benefits.

In August, Taongahuia showcased the Niho Fusion collection from her label, Kahu Huia, at New Zealand Fashion Week after she was named as one of three runners-up in the emerging designer’s category at the Indigenous Māori Fashion Apparel Board’s annual competition, Miromoda.

She is also set to exhibit the Niho Fusion collection, plus two new pieces, at the Tiki Ahua fashion and design extravaganza at Te Puia in Rotorua on 6 October.

Taongahuia says studying fashion with Toi Ohomai has helped her achieve her career goals.

“I already knew what career I wanted. I just needed to find someone who knew the industry to teach me and provide me with more practical skills.”

She says she enjoyed learning to use computer programmes like Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop in her work, as well as the technical skill of pattern making.