July 28, 2014
Maori MP transformed fashion
The pioneering fashion designs of New Zealand’s longest serving female MP are to go on show at Hawkes Bay’s Museum Theatre Gallery in September.
The family of Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, who died in 2011, have gifted a large range of garments to the museum trust.
Daughter May-Ana Tirikatene-Sullivan says fashion, family and politics were all important to her mother, and she set out to show women they could have children and a career.
As well as serving as MP for Southern Maori for 27 years, Mrs Tirikatene-Sullivan designed clothes for herself and for her boutique Memsahib, using bold prints created by contemporary Maori artists including Sandy Adsett, Para Matchitt, Cliff Whiting, and Frank Davis.
MTG Hawke’s Bay director, Douglas Lloyd Jenkins says she had a unique understanding of fashion and its transformative power, and her style has left an indelible mark on New Zealand culture.
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