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Lockdown creativity with feathers

As soon as the borders open he is off. In the meantime, fashion designer Cruze Kapa from Gisborne is ‘stuck’ at his aunty’s house in Taupo, getting creative with pheasant feathers.

Kirstine MacIntosh got a call from a mutual friend, asking if she would take Cruze in. He had given up his home in New Zealand and a container load of his things had left for Brisbane, but Cruze was in New Zealand without a home to go to and unable to travel to Australia.

Of course she said yes, and Cruze, 26, and his sewing machine arrived for Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown.

At work most days as a Taupo Funeral Services Ltd director, Kirstine said she had big plans to do heaps of things during lockdown.

“But of course I did nothing! Apart from helping Cruze to make a kakahu (cloak) and a wreath.”

Kirstine already had a collection of pheasant feathers, as her daughter Shannon Reynolds would bring them home from her previous job at a Taupo game bird hunting property.

“The chef would cook the breast, and Shannon would bring home the parson’s nose, the tail piece. She would shake baking soda on the feathers to dry them out and then feed the rest to the pigs,” said Kirstine.

She said the making of the kakahu was a team effort, with Cruz stitching the tail feathers on to a tape then putting the whole thing together with a lining.

Kirstine’s daughter Briar Proud, 14, helped position the feathers and modelled the finished kakahu. Under instruction from Shannon, Kirstine boiled some flax with an onion, to keep the colour, and then made flax ties for the kakahu.

“I am not artistic, I can draw stick people! I did all the glueing. The project kind of took over the whole house.”

Hailing from Gisborne, Cruze is of Ngati Porou descent and his hapu is Rongowhakaata. Kirstine is of Ngapuhi descent, Northland, and Cruze also affiliates to Ngapuhi.

This was his first time making a cloak, however, he said his last paper for his bachelor’s degree had inspired him to create a contemporary Maori catwalk collection.

The move to Brisbane will further his career and boost his own brand, Cruze said.

“The kakahu has design influences from my whakapapa. It is not a korowai as there are no tassels and a korowai is a whole lot more work.”

Cruze said he first became curious about sewing while spending time with his nana on his mum’s side, Hinemahi Paenga, who was always mending her family’s clothes.

“My nana would sit her sewing machine on the dining table and repair clothes. She had five kids.”

This sparked his own creativity, fuelled by spending hours shopping with his mother and sister.

“I wanted to be creative on my own and design clothes. It was so unfair, there was not much choice in men’s clothing.”

Profoundly deaf at birth, Cruze had a cochlear implant into one ear when he was 6 years old. His first language is New Zealand Sign Language and English is his second language.

He said not many deaf people get to study at university because their education levels are so low.

“Lack of opportunity for deaf people is something I want to address through my sewing. Everyone is equal. The reality is deaf people are equally talented.” — Taupo & Turangi Weekender

Getting creative: Fashion designer Cruze Kapa (far left) found himself in lockdown with Kirstine MacIntosh’s family and made a kakahu (cloak) out of pheasant feathers. Picture supplied
Fashion designer Cruze Kapa made a kakahu (cloak) out of pheasant feathers, which Briar Proud (above) modelled. Picture supplied

  1. Julie Stone, Auckland says:

    Disagree with what has printed. As a close family member of the whanau associated with Cruze, some of his comments are sadly incorrect. He does have homes to go to in NZ.

    Caring whanau member.