Once in a lifetime opportunity for Cook Islands designers

Tuesday 8 December 2020 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Culture, National

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Once in a lifetime opportunity for Cook Islands designers
Designer Toka Toka, left, with a model at the Aku Yanga Cook Islands Fashion Show in Auckland last month. Photo: GERARDUS VERSPEEK/AKU YANGA 20120204. INSET: Designer Ina Ropu-Tengaru. 20120201

When Cook Island designers Toka Toka and Ina Ropu-Tengaru received news that they would be part of a fashion event in London, they were shocked.

Toka said: “I’m still in shock. When I received a friend request on Facebook from the CEO/Director of the London Pacific Fashion Week Ana Lavekau, she invited myself and Aunty Ina to be part of the 2021 fashion line.”

Toka said they did not apply to be part of the event, but it was after a radio interview with PMN that the London Pacific Fashion Week director contacted him.

“Although she says funds are usually the problem, she really would like us to represent Cook Islands and be part of the Oceania Collection.

“I’m still in shock, but I believe this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. If it’s anything to do for my people of the Cook Islands, I will step forward and volunteer to represent every Cook Islander. I am a proud Cook Islander and I’ll do anything for our people.”

For Ina Ropu-Tengaru, she has always had a passion to make dresses.

She has designed costumes for dancers for years but has never been in any fashion show until last month when she took part in Aku Yanga’s show in Auckland. Excited by the opportunity, Ropu-Tengaru said: “I give glory and honour to our Father in heaven for blessing me with the talent He has bestowed me with and it is time for me to let it be seen out there in the open and worldwide.”

The two are now in Wellington, New Zealand preparing for their very own ‘Rakei Toa Fashion’ showcase in Porirua on December 12, at Pataka Museum from 6 – 10pm. 

“We are both very happy to say and share that we both are very blessed by the love of our community here in Wellington, Porirua. We both are supported by Taeaomanino Trust, KEA Facility and Security and by our extended Porirua families, not forgetting to acknowledge models that have given their time voluntarily to come and practise for the show to be held.”

The Rakei Toa Fashion will feature about 30 Cook Islands models and three other Cook Island designers, including the mamas from the Taeaomanino Trust Tuitui group who will also showcase the work they have done.

Toka's advice for aspiring Cook Islanders: “There is no little opportunity, take all those opportunities that have been given and make them become a memorable one. Above all, let God lead the way as he knows what will happen. I’m grateful and thankful to God for all these amazing blessings. He provides it and I follow it for he knows my future.”