28 Sep 2014

The fashion of Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan

From Sunday Morning, 8:51 am on 28 September 2014

Lucy Hammonds shows a garment by Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan
Left: Lucy Hammonds with a dress by Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan
Right: Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan and husband Denis Sullivan - image supplied by Fairfax Media New Zealand

Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan held the Southern Maori electorate for Labour for 29 years after she was first elected in 1967. In 1970 she became the first sitting MP to give birth and two years later she became the first Maori woman Cabinet minister. She was also known for her striking fashion sense, and she commissioned a large number of garments incorporating Maori motifs by contemporary artists.

Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan died in 2011 and her clothing collection now forms an exhibition, Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan: Travel in Style, which opened this week at MTG Hawke’s Bay.

Wallace talks to the curator, Lucy Hammonds.