WHENUA - Claim your Roots by PFFS Director Nora Swann

Being a New Zealand born Samoan, I have grappled with self-identity my whole life. There were always question marks and I felt uneasy when it came to how I identified myself. I knew it had to do with my cultural identity but rather than explore it and try to find answers, I parked it to the side and carried on living.

These past few years, I have felt the need to find out more about myself and my culture. After discovering the reasons my parents moved to NZ and the sacrifices they made, the challenges they faced to come to the “land of milk and honey” – the one word that stands out is ‘courage’. Living in NZ in the 1970’s would have been tough and I am grateful and applaud my parents for being dreamers that wanted a better life for themselves and for finding an avenue to support their families in Samoa and raise a family here. This makes me so proud.

While trying to find out more about my cultural identity so I could find out who I was as an individual, I surprisingly discovered out that our relationship as Pasifika with Māori people, Tangata Whenua was closer than I had assumed. There are so many viewpoints of what this relationship is but after being selected as a participant of Leadership NZ – Mana Moana and speaking to some prominent Māori figures while on a retreat in Northland, I felt so much love, warmth, familiarity and pain for Tangata Whenua. I also felt a strong sense of contact through our similar beliefs and strong connections to the natural elements. I feel the need to tautoko Māori as the people of the land and an extension of Pasifika.

Claiming your Roots to me means owning and knowing who you are and where you come from and waving that flag proudly.

We begin our 2018 campaign with WHENUA because we are taking it back to Mother Earth. For our location this year, we have chosen Ambury Park, where we will be fully immersed in nature and the elements. The spark of creation at conception is why we are all here but as creatives, there is also that moment when we conceive an idea and go on to create something from nothing. The idea for Pacific Fusion was to hold a fashion event for Māori and Pacific designers to showcase their creativity and now three years later we are encouraging new designers to dream and create. We are so excited for this year’s show and look forward to bringing you on our new journey.