Hawaiian-born Christine Makaweo is working with local artists to design clothing with a unique Northland twist. Photo / Jenny Ling
A new clothing and gift shop in Kerikeri is working with New Zealand designers to provide garments that showcase Northland’s unique culture.
Hawaiian-born Christine Makaweo opened Kaleo on Kerikeri Rd last month, working with local artists to create original print designs that celebrate New Zealand and, in particular, the Bay of Islands.
She then crafts the designs onto fabrics and textiles to make quality clothing for men and women, including a screen-printed line of T-shirts and hoodies, and accessories such as beach bags, towels, silk scarves and umbrellas.
The products celebrate New Zealand’s flora and fauna, rich blend of cultures and Kiwi expressions including slogans such as “Kina Cool” and “Be Fruitful Kerikeri” and “Another Day in Paradise Bay of Islands”.
“We wear our culture every day in our clothing, we’re very expressive in our prints,” Makaweo said.
“It’s called ‘aloha attire’; you wear it for casual, parties, business, whatever else, it’s a way of life for us.
“I was determined to bring that to New Zealand because I saw so many cultural similarities.”
Makaweo moved to Kerikeri with her Kiwi partner in 2019.
She already had connections to the north; her parents Jim and Debi Makaweo were the original founders of Makana Confections, also on Kerikeri Rd, which opened in 1998.
She was a regular visitor to the Bay of Islands to see her parents, and has also lived in the Solomon Islands.
Now living in Kerikeri, she is working with seven artists from Northland, Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington, to come up with designs for Kaleo, a Hawaiian word that means “to express”.
They include Moerewa resident Kahurangi Rihari-Poa, a graduate from Northtec now working as a tattoo artist who created a kowhaiwhai design.
Several other artists from around Kerikeri have also expressed interest in creating designs for Makaweo’s fabrics.
Makaweo said she has come to appreciate the similarities in the cultures and lifestyles between her former and current homes.
She’s had lots of good feedback from customers, especially for the signature men’s shirt, a tailored shirt you can wear “from boardwalk to boardroom”.
“It mimics the Hawaii shirt but in a timeless, tasteful way.
“I wanted to bring some of the colourful and relaxed styles that I loved there to Aotearoa, but with New Zealand designs and styles tailored for our way of living here.
“It’s New Zealand art to wear.”
Kaleo’s prints are limited editions with styles changing seasonally. Some of the fabrics are “iron-free” and they also have gift options.
Kaleo is at 459 Kerikeri Rd and is open daily from 9.30am to 5.30pm.
Makaweo is looking for new artists to collaborate with. If you’re interested email: firstname.lastname@example.org