Featured

HEAL: FACE + BODY BALM

Menu:

NANO: VANILLA + BERGAMOT

Bergamot promotes skin regeneration and is loved for its renewal and brightening powers. Vanilla neutralises free radicals and helps reverse skin damage caused by them. Grapeseed oil helps control acne by decreasing clogged pores.

SARA: JASMINE + HEMP

After Saraswati, the goddess who says, only through our knowledge can we create. Sara is like swimming in a fresh river on a warm day. Hemp moisturises generously without clogging pores, and scientifically, Jasmine is so relaxing it’s been likened to valium.

SHAKTI: ORANGE +CINNAMON

Shakti is the cause of creation and the element of change. She is energy, ability, strength, effort, power, capability. Grapeseed preserves vitamin C + E. Orange reduces stress, anxiety and depression and promotes clarity, radiance, and smoothness in the skin. Cinnamon works to heal + help clear away scar marks and spots. A beautifully nourishing face and body balm.

NXVA: VANILLA

Vanilla Shakti is the cause of creation and the element of change. She is energy, ability, strength, effort, power, capability. Grapeseed preserves vitamin C + E. Orange reduces stress, anxiety and depression and promotes clarity, radiance, and smoothness in the skin. Cinnamon works to heal + help clear away scar marks and spots. A beautifully nourishing face and body balm.

VEDA: TAMANU + VANILLA

By reciting mantras, the oldest part of the Vedas, the cosmos is regenerated. Tamanu oil is often referred to as ‘the oil of the Gods’. It too, heals and helps regenerate. Calendula improves tone and protects cells. Vanilla neutralise free radicals like exposure to X-rays, ozone, cigarette smoking, air pollutants, and industrial chemicals – it works to reverse damage on skin damaged by them.

*prevent clogging pores or trapping bacteria by wiping off excess oils with a damp cotton pad. 

PRICE LIST:

60ml – $25

*Personalised orders can be made at digitalserumshop@gmail.com

Featured

THREADS: AUCKLAND DIVERSE with SIAN KOLOSE

In this T H R E A D S shoot I linked up with Sian Kolose who, at the time, had her online shopping mecca Hunting Ground Store still in incubation with her sister Tina Kolose. For this shoot, we put together a list of the dopest models we could source, then set about shooting them. I realised while putting this portfolio together just how busy we got – 16 models, two days, one make up artist, two cameras, one stylist (Sian), one photographer (me) and K’RD. 

Models included Luke Collins, Maia Te Hira, Anny Ma, Suha Wahab and Sarah Hindley, Max Robinson and Tina Kolose. Blaze the Emperor, Bryson Naik, Tony Douglas, Blu, Shajal Singh, Tashi Levitt, Arlena Teiho, Leah Pao, Bheilee Okesene, Felicity Aroa.

EXPERIMENT

Working with Sian was a really fun experience, I particularly enjoyed the collaborative freedom I had when working with her.  Two examples are getting Tina to hop into the trolley as well as contrasting Tashi’s white satin skirt with the dirt from the car park; also the darker tone of the material soaking up the fresh water (it had just rained) from the puddle. (BELOW). Being my first shoot of this scale, working with Sian gave me the confidence to try new ideas out. 

STREET

REFLECTION

PRE-LOVED

Recyclable fashion is a good way to combat the humongous waste issue that human kind face remedying today. Having the skills to re-work an old garment and make it new, or the eye for how to pick a garment and make it seem new is an ever-growing/required skill and, as we continue to throw material into the earth – like we don’t understand some materials like Nylon take around 20 years to breakdown- we must incorporate reusable fashion into our basic shopping vocabulary. ** Disclaimer** to the Salvation Army in Glenn Eden – this does NOT excuse you charging 70$ for a shirt someone dropped off while throwing away rubbish and other household goods, then telling customers on a low budget ‘well that’s what it costs in Ponsonby’. Just saying… Not really I mean it… Please stop dousing the thrill of op-shopping with your inflation excuses!

ELEMENT

This year, Rihanna did a shoot for Garage Mag, shot by photographer Deana Lawson who specialises in taking photos of subjects in their home, in what she describes as ‘their domestic space’. Shajal (BELOW) used to flat above the shoot location – Hero Sandwich House – in Auckland so was certainly in her natural space. I would like to explore these themes more in future work – especially in domestic settings. 

MOTION

Movement is another aspect I noticed when reflecting on this shoot, these models had their stance on-point and I also liked to encourage the energy and sense of action with my angles. (Shout outs Blaze The Emperor). 

BRYSON X TONY

COLLABORATION

Tony Douglas is someone whose style I noticed after moving home from Perth in 2011, he was DJing at an underground bar in Wellington as one half of Calm The Fuck  Down aka CTFD. During this shoot, a film and photography guru himself, he taught me to set the meters properly on my external flash. (Blush face emoji).

DIASPORA

Joan Smalls took part in this interview with the Business of Fashion addressing diversity and inclusivity last year. She said “It’s interesting because of my background I come from an interracial family and my household has every different shade and in my world I’ve always seen it as inclusive so coming to New York and making a career modelling they reminded me ‘what we see you as’ not who I identified with”. I think as women of colour, Sian and I brought that sense of diversity within the world we see to the shoot; it’s something that I feel proud of upon completing the project.

HERO SANDWICH HOUSE

CULTURE

Cultural diversity in mainstream media and the importance of seeing one’s self reflected on TV and billboards is an agenda in my work that I hold dear. Growing up as an ‘other’ in New Zealand, it was very earlier on in my exploration of myself, then my work as an extension of myself, that I have consistently focused on culture and identity. Juxtaposing the confronting and contradicting elements that happen when east meets west in my compositions is something I will continue to do. There have been movements and collectives in Auckland like Milkshake Models, Dynasty, FAF SWAG and photographers like Imogen Wilson who have also pushed identity boundaries – I’m only excited to see what the future brings for Kiwi creatives and brown children who can see themselves positively and accurately reflected in the media. 

MERCURY PLAZA

Mercury Plaza is definitely a popular Auckland location for food and photos. The food court there is due to close, but I hope it reopens/moves somewhere else cause for me – South East Asian food is what helps me hold on to small pieces of Malaysia and remedies the sense of feeling homesick all in one $10 meal! 

There are more shots from this shoot on Instagram

Featured

Author: Tayi Tibble on Poūkahangatus & decolonising the mind

22-year-old Tayi Tibble has recently graduated her masters and published her first poetry book titled Poūkahangatus. It featured at number one twice on the Unity Books bestselling list and was the first book of poetry to claim the number-one spot since Hera Lindsay Bird in 2016. It was reviewed by Jenna Todd for the Spinoff Papercuts Podcast: as havinga freshness, a naughtiness, and an incredible cover”.

Fresh and naughty with incredible ‘covers’ are themes brown girls are universally loved and recognised for. Being a scholar and unapologetic poet published straight out of uni sets this brown girl apart. I knew Tibble and I would get on because she goes by ‘Paniaofthekeef’ on Instagram. I knew because she went to Aotea College near where I grew up in Wellington and because she came to our interview in brand new Fila sneakers with a platform that made her outfit just drip [LIKE].
“I’m like a gangsta bitch but I remember being a teenager and being real shame about that like dressing real twee,” she says. We talk about being unapologetically who you are in 2018 and what decolonising the mind means to her as well as what being an urban Māori means today. We talk about how much harder women of colour have worked to get into positions of significant power and how important it is to keep pushing that kaupapa so our daughters and sons can dream a bit bigger, aim a bit higher and feel a sense that achieving those dreams are possible for them too.
For Tibble leading by such a high example is a pressure and a privilege – and a platform she’s intent on growing. “People will often ask me ‘Oh how do you feel about being a Māori writer?’ in reference to the fact that Pākehā people don’t get called ‘Pākehā writers.’ I’ve also encountered other Māori writers rejecting that label, saying that they aren’t or can’t be ‘a Māori writer.’ They’re just a writer like everyone else and I get that but…. I don’t really fuck with that. I’m a Māori writer. In my mind that’s undeniable and inescapable, and it’s important that I embrace that.

SERUM: So you embrace the responsibility?
TAYI: I have to..Cause I can see the detriments of not doing it.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Featured

Lorde Inc — A modelling agency unafraid to be honest

“What the fuck, you put just one black girl in to make sure you’ve ticked a box? Like, do you go to London, to Paris, to New York? I think you see as many black and Asian people there as white people”

– Olivier Rousteing, Creative Director, Balmain

Continue reading “Lorde Inc — A modelling agency unafraid to be honest”
Featured

Interview: KVKA — “All Black Range, Malcolm X Knew Better”

Speaking about his song ‘La Musica’ produced by Tony Douglas, Hamilton resident Mukuka Simwinga aka KVKA says, “I feel very strongly about the new age slavery, it’s like where Africans and minorities have got to a place where white people and other people don’t have to put us down because it’s like self hate. So when I say [in the song], ‘where gold chains make slaves look better, all black Range Malcolm X knew better, gold chains swing just to lynch me better’, I’m saying we’re doing this to ourselves; it’s to a point where all we care about is, ‘oh yeah I got ice on my neck and I got the new whip’, and you’re not thinking about the fact that back in the day your ancestors would never wear that chain around their neck, they’d never do that because they know exactly what it means. It’s like they work so hard to get free and then we put chains back on ourselves. It’s something I have to work on as well. I say ‘nigga’ sometimes. I say all the ignorant stuff. But I think it’s something, where we need to get to the point, where we can battle it and not just sit down and say, ‘Oh yeah our ancestors helped us to get free — because we’re not free. Corporations are still above us and everyone’s not at a place where everyone’s equal yet.’

With KVKA hailing from a family of musicians and poets, he draws inspiration from his brother listening to Otis Redding, the church, and “my mum, when she’s was younger, used to write poetry as well. So it’s kind of like everyone in my family is creative. I sit down and try to absorb all the creativity around me. My sister was a big influence. She went for this poetry slam and won. She was on Drew and Shannon Live and she had an episode on Both Worlds — I realized through all that stuff that I could actually do something with it instead of it just being a closet-type hobby”.

Never having had a build up into the scene that was public, he instead worked behind the scenes until he sprang into the spotlight with his video for ‘The Zone’ which was filmed by YouTube based channel Visual Base TV. This produced a snowball effect which landed him on the doorstep of Tony Douglas’ house in Hamilton. Literally. Drenched from walking in the rain after church one Sunday, they’d arranged their first session. For now, all we can say is that he plans to continue rising up the music leader board. KVKA, who is of Zambian descent but New Zealand citizenship, has immersed himself in the influence of his family, friends, Hip Hop and most notably his own self awareness — it makes him an independent thinker and somewhat explains his impeccable lyricism, wordplay and sound. He says, ‘I don’t want to just be a rapper, I want to change the whole culture of New Zealand rap. And it’s really awesome because I’ve been sitting here and listening to all these underground rappers from New Zealand I never knew of, there’s Mikey, Third3ye, Diaz Grimm, everyone’s starting to change the [music] culture from New Zealand — and no offence to anyone, like I love Scribe, but from Scribe to be[ing] more universal with the world — but still keep our authenticity — I’m proud to be in New Zealand and be apart of what’s going to happen. Personally, I want to be right at the front, leading this new generation of underground to the world.’

WDYFILWHH had the chance to Skype KVKA and get a closer sense of who he is and what he’s about. It’s no doubt that this is 27 minutes worth listening to. While you’re at it, you can get a bit more acquainted with KVKA’s music on his SoundCloud as we patiently wait for the release of his début EP L.O.E.S, out on the 1st of November.

Featured

Interview: Thirty Minutes With Ta-ku

Perth based producer/beat maker Ta-ku doesn’t drink, smoke, take drugs or even make beats for a living, he does it after dinner, before bed as a side project. He has an out look on life that seems as progressive as his music considering recent heavy weights to hip hop, like Kendrick Lamar or Oddisee renouncing drugs and the party life because, religion, health, keeping a straight head while focusing on work and music.

It seems Ta-ku was onto something the rest of us have ignored all along. But more and more people are retracting from peer pressure to conform in favour of personal progress and simply enjoying the creative work itself.  Despite leading what he calls a ‘regimented’ life he still manages to work on tracks like ‘Cake’ for @Peace, remixes for Flume or feature artists like JMSN; lets not forget his own 50 days for Dilla two-part release or the project he did with Home Brew’s Haz where they went back to back in June 2011 posting a beat a day. I got to sit down with Ta-ku at The Bird in Perth and talk beats, music, life and hip hop. Perth has such a nurtured beat scene with regular events like the Beat Lounge or Boiler Room TV  – Ta-ku is an exciting example of the good music that grows there. In 2013 he began his own label, Sunday Records,  with the intention to support fellow beat makers by providing them access to a bigger audience. He says there’s so much talent out there but people are still hiding in their bedrooms, which he wants to change.

Continue reading “Interview: Thirty Minutes With Ta-ku”

Featured

Baby Mamas Club raises a fist for women of colour in New Zealand

“Don’t you know, we’re talking about a revolution sound, like a whisper” — Tracy Chapman

Producer Mia Marama and Director Hanelle Harris are the duo behind a recent TV series called The Baby Mama’s Club. Unique in the way that it captures the lives of four young brown women from New Zealand, humorously linking them together on a quest to hunt down they’re children’s father Johnny who is missing, the series proved critics wrong when they said it was unoriginal, boring and no one would watch it. This criticism came among other concerns it wouldn’t sell and was therefore unworthy of a funding investment from NZONAIR.

Determined to execute their vision the pair self funded the pilot episode before receiving a $100,000 grant in the 2017 NZONAIR funding pool. “Our audience came in droves” offers Harris. Attention toward its potential came after the pilot episode racked up over half a million views.

“Let’s be real, we were probably one of the strongest applicants for that funding round – we had views on one pilot that amounted one projects total views in a season,” says Harris.

The pair are proud of their progress but plan to keep pushing representation of minority communities in mainstream NZ media. For Baby Mama’s Club the pair said TV executives didn’t interfere too much with their creative vision.”We were really privileged that the broadcaster was hands off but we’ve got really great executive producers at South Pacific Pictures. They’ll give their advice which comes from a raft of experience from making so many TV shows and they’re considering the budget and the feasibility of what we wanna pull off.. in the end I don’t think we cut anything really that I wanted to keep.”

“We’re so grateful for the support and people really need to understand we can’t do it without them, we don’t have the power. When people are asking us for season two or more episodes they need to really hear us when we’re saying the power’s not in our hands, its really in their hands. They need to be active and fight for it and hear us when we’re saying we have had to fight harder but it is a battle, we cant do it on our own,” says Harris.

Mia says “In order for us to be enabled to make anything as brown people it has to become a media sensation, so like Hanelle said, comment share post about it talk about it and support the kaupapa”.

“We have been able to prove to the primary broadcaster in the country that there is an audience for Maori and Pacific Island voices and they’ve come in droves, our audience has come in droves and TVNZ have been wonderful not only have they platformed us they’ve put us front and center.

Villette and Baby Mama’s Club cast at series premier, TVNZ December 2017

“Representation matters because it validates us as a people that should have an equal voice in society and when you don’t see yourself in media you are therefore an other and being an other means your voice doesn’t get heard and when it is heard….it doesn’t have as much weight…

It really is on that psychological level, you really are grooming the perceptions of people when you’re saying these are the faces that represent New Zealand that is what you are saying, when you are constantly seeing white faces on New Zealand screen you are telling the next generation, this generation, the one before it, that this is what New Zealand looks like and we know it’s not true,” says Harris.

Producer Mia Marama points out “As Polynesian peoples, story telling is a very natural and integral part of our culture, something that’s been happening for generations and generations so whether we’re channeling that in the media, music, film, television it probably hasn’t been done more because of opportunity, but I don’t think that limits us — as people we’ve already shown we’re resilient now we just need to continue to fight for those opportunities so that we can share those stories to a global audience because it’s clear now that people want to see it.

“Once Were Warriors, Whale Rider, Boy, Hunt For The Wilderpeople, these are films that have made millions and millions of dollars so the fact that we’re still trying to prove our ‘diverse’ stories can make money is tiresome.”

Hanelle says “I don’t want to be comparative to mainstream media, my goal is to be better than mainstream media in New Zealand and to be getting the money, not based on the fact that we have this cool, hip, niche audience but based on the fact that we’re fucken good and everyone likes it, and that’s the point which is that white people do love our show, they fuckin love it and I think there are actually white New Zealanders out there that agree that the New Zealand we see on TV is not the NZ they know and if you live in Auckland that’s definitely not the NZ that you’re seeing every day”.

In this interview for Ryz FM and The Plug they discuss NZ MUCIC, RACISM IN NEW ZEALAND, FEMINISM, TALL POPPY SYNDROME, HATERS, YOUNG FATHERS, and THE NEED FOR MORE genuine BROWN MEDIA & more.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW:

https://audioboom.com/posts/6559807-the-baby-mama-s-club-interview-by-aleyna-martinez

Watch Pilot episode HERE.

Featured

NEW: Villette releases Drip Crimson mixtape

2017 has taught singer, songwriter, producer Villette that those working with you have to put as much effort into your product as you do, otherwise, they have to go.  To-the-point. Timely. Strong. This year the 22-year-old Samoan Chinese talent from South Auckland has been working super hard at her music — which can be an unforgiving environment — so she has to sometimes make tough calls to protect her brand.  She’s learned the hard way she can’t tolerate those that can’t give 100 percent and more.

Key moments include a feature on the smash web-series Baby Mama’s Club, releasing her mixtape and touring Drip Crimson alongside a new lingerie series — of which the first set is called ‘If You Go’ — “That song is about feeling powerful, you’ve just broken up with someone or you think someone’s going to leave or you don’t know what’s happening in the relationship.”

gyalsshoot

“I feel empowered in that song when I’m saying fuck whose in your phone, fuck that other girl, I feel empowered when I say that so I called it If You Go because that’s one of the most powerful songs on the mixtape. She says the plan is to release lingerie with every project she does.

“This mixtape is pretty heavy and the new EP that’s coming out in January is going to be more about how I feel right now. It’s going to be more upbeat, more definitive more melody lead RnB”

rus2

Villette says, “This mixtape’s been going on for about 11-months but I’ve been working on new music during that time.” Drip Crimson is available on SPOTIFY and  most platforms.

How have you found working at the industry level cause I remember when you played at the Greenroom and were booked via Facebook messenger..

[Laughs] The good old days when things were simple man, I miss that, nah I still get booked for some shit via Facebook, low key I still do it, I’m not ashamed of it.

And there’s a lot of love in those shows.. 

That’s where my people are like that’s just where I can really see how people feel and it’s different when you get asked to play a show through a booking agent cause you don’t know if it’s completely genuine or not or if it’s for marketing purposes and stuff like that so there’s a question of,  if you want to do it or not, if it’s genuine, and then you have to think about your integrity as an artist; whether you should be playing that kind of gig or if its solely for the money and that’s where I’m at at the moment but I’m lucky to have booking agents who are my friends as well, so they know my values as an artists and they know where I stand.

… I think there’s a misconception because I still don’t consider myself in the ‘industry level’ yet, I still see myself as, in the beginning phases, for me I feel very early in my career and I feel like I’ve gone through a lot of shit with industry stuff but I’m learning on a personal level as an artists how to handle that because that’s going to define my success, how I handle these little challenges now, is how I’m going to come out the other end.

royals

..Lots of people tell you what you should do and how you should handle stuff, but nothing prepares for you when someone offers you something amazing and it’s too good to be true and you take it and it was too good to be true and your like [lols] ‘Ahh fuck I should have listened’.

Whenever an artist gets involved with this it’s because you are that kind of person, you wanna take risks obviously for pursuing being an artist in such an over saturated market right now so..It’s just one of those things that comes with the territory.. but I enjoy it now and I’ve learned to handle it, and I’m still working on how I react to it on a personal level, emotionally react to it.

savage

 

So you have to have a thick skin?

Have to. Like I’ve got followers, I’m not afraid to admit that I have fans and stuff like that but I also have my fair amount of haters and …there’s just ..always going to be shit that just comes with the territory, for one person that loves you there might be two who don’t like you, and I get hate messages on Instagram, I have people comment shit that I have to delete it’s really intense and that also comes with being a woman in the industry like people just always critique you on everything and then at the industry level  you’ve got 50-year-old white men telling you what’s relevant and it’s like you don’t know what the fucks relevant, you really don’t.

..When you’re working in the studio you really have to have a thick skin because you have to trust your gut instinct, and that you know what sounds hot and that you know what sounds like you, when you’re trying to put your flavour into something, you have to be really strong and stand your ground and that can make you lose friends, I’ve learned that even recently I’ve lost friends over it.

maybe

Women, I think you’re right I think we do have to yank our personalities out in order to stand there and really deliver a solid performance..

I think that also comes from knowing your self-worth, on a personal level, at the end of the day I’m human, I’ll always doubt myself and always not know if I’m going to be insecure and that sort of stuff but when it comes to business I really separate it and just think ‘no this is my full-time job’ and treat it like that… I really expect great things from the people around me and lately in the last month I’ve just narrowed down my team and thought about like, one strike and you’re out, that’s it that’s all I can deal with. ..And that comes down to knowing your self-worth and knowing that how you handle your business is how other people should handle it [laughs] it’s simple,  but it’s taken me so long to realise that.

How do you take a loss? 

Oh man it’s hard, maybe at the beginning of this year I would have cried and been real fucking upset; lashed out at everyone around me, lashed out at my mum, even though she has nothing to do with it.. but it’s because it’s just like.. I struggle to talk about my emotions unless it’s in song so I just am that way …I’m going to fuck around and piss people off ..I still am that way… am still going to fuck around and piss people off but now I handle it better and I see it as: I fucking love losing now, failing is great to me. I’m kind of like, ‘Come the fuck on!’ because I’m in my twenties now I’m 22 and this is the time to try shit and fail at shit and know what you’re good at.

 

18110223_452374425099891_23696857_o.jpg

And Hamilton, you grew up there, was any of your creativity made there? 

[There were] a lot of experiences. I did most of my growing up in Hamilton the pivotal moments in me teens were all there, my first boyfriend was there, my first everything was there lets just say that…a lot of my lasts were there as well cause when I moved here I was like I can’t do this shit anymore, I met a rapper over there as well and that was the first time I went in the studio, properly recorded, and that’s the first time I realised it wasn’t as easy as it looked, but I thank him for that experience because it made me realise that I wanted to work hard.

Catch more of this interview on Ryz FM. 

 

 

Featured

A GAME OF SKATE with Too’OnPoint

One brief decider using paper, scissors, rock, then twin brother Shingi Murare kicks off a ‘Game of Skate’ match versus his brother Muche, the pair known as Too’OnPoint  meet me at their local park in Flatbush, Barry Curtis Park. 

ALEYNA: So you guys grew up around here? I’m filming you.

SHINGI: Oh shit, yeah we did, we grew up like…. we’d skate 20 minutes down the road before they built this, everyday after school. Weekends I’d be here  first thing in the morning. It’s still probably one of the best skate parks in Auckland, but we didn’t have that much back then…Til we begged the council.

ALEYNA: Who’s we?

SHINGI: Like a lot of us, like the local skate shop as well

DSCF8438.JPG

ALEYNA: Which is?

SHINGI: Boardertown, my brother works there. So even though I got into music and shit, skating’s still …before I wanted to be a musician I wanted to be a proskateboarder. I was really passionate about it, now it’s just fun like what you do for exercise and to have fun, before, I took it too seriously.

MUCHE: And then it’s not fun.

ALEYNA: When did you come across the show Epicl’y Latered and what did you like about it?

SHINGI: It would’ve been almost 10 years ago now we would’ve still been in intermediate school just learning how to skate then the show Epicl’y Latered was something new and refreshing. You got a peek into their personal lives as well as an in depth interview on skate culture. It put a personal attachment to my favourite skateboarders which intern motivates you to scare you even harder it’s almost like a musician watching their favourite musicians biography you know.

DSCF8391.JPG

ALEYNA: So where are you guys from?

MUCHE: Harare, Zimbabwe

ALEYNA: And how old were you when you came here?

MUCHE: Bout 2002, I was seven.

ALEYNA: So you went to school out here?

MUCHE: Yeah, Elm Park Primary.

 

DSCF8265.JPG

DSCF8418.JPG

 

ALEYNA: Wait where are we?

SHINGI: We’re in Flatbush but we grew up round the east like Pakuranga

ALEYNA: So first memories of skating, how did it start?

MUCHE: Just seeing my mates back in intermediate and my friends would skate and I’d just watch clips of them doing like kick flips and shit skating and be like bro how do you do that.

SHINGI: I got me a little $10 skateboard from the Warehouse and shit, it could barely ride.

ALEYNA: So you loved it that much that  just put up with that? What was the first board you bought?

SHINGI: Yeah for a little bit and then I got like a proper skate board, I think my first one was a Flip, Geoff Rowley.

MUCHE: I think the first board I bought was a Zero cause I loved Chris Cole.

SHINGI: I was real poor and shit so I couldn’t afford to buy a board and shit for over $100, so I’d always cop second hand skateboards…once in a blue moon I’d buy a board.

DSCF8319.JPG

ALEYNA: So is this your stomping ground?

MUCHE: Yeah

 

SHINGI: Oi legit, we were probably the reason why they built this park…

ALEYNA: What’s that story?

MUCHE: Um so if you go back maybe a kilometre that way we used to be fucking little shits always just going there  skating up, the shop owners would complain and shit , we’d skate all the local schools, they’d always complain there was like 20 of us and we’d always just go and skate together so they got pretty pissed off about that after a while.

DSCF8310.JPG

SHINGI: We even did a petition and they put like 700k into it or something.

MUCHE:  There was like, One News or something came out here when it was still getting built and they got us all to come through and ask, ‘Oh what do you guys think about this park?’ But bro we needed this to be honest like where else were we gonna skate? You’re [the council] not providing facilities for the youth to go kick it at type thing.

SHINGI: And the public transport system is so trash.

MUCHE: It’s hard to get to other parks.

SHINGI: To get to skatepark would take you half a day.

MUCHE: But now it’s like legit, this place is probably a home for a lot of people who have grown up around here, it’s needed.

ALEYNA: So skating, as brothers that’s something that you’ve always done together?

MUCHE: Yeah and my other brother, he’s better than us, he’s fuckin good (laughs).

SHINGI: Yeah he’s fucking good aye, so good.

DSCF8300.JPG

ALEYNA: What is it you love about skating, is it like something you can do as a family, as brothers like isn’t some of this shit scary?

SHINGI: It is but it’s fun like ..the risk.

MUCHE: The way I see it it’s like confidence building , if I was gonna go do that 10 right, like that I’ve never done in my life but if I was going to go do it I would probably run up like five times and then come to a point where you’re like I’m actually going to do it this time and that’s when the adrenaline kicks in before you do it and then once you do it, it’s like ‘Oh my god it wasn’t that hard’ and then you go try it again you know but like getting over that mental barrier of  it’s ‘just a 10 stair’ or  ‘it’s just an olly’ type thing gets me, I dunno. Sometime you could be out there trying a trick for a whole fucking day and you’re not going to get it, but you’re still, every time you fall down and fuck yourself up you’re going to get back up and try again you know.

DSCF8284.JPG

DSCF8339.JPG

SHINGI: Cause you want it that bad…

MUCHE: And then you get it one time and then that one time made up for the whole day’s worth of work  you know so yeah it’s a good feeling,

ALEYNA: So do you guys reckon  that define loving something or just your drive and character?

SHINGI: Definitely defines loving something.

MUCHE: Loving something because fuck, you got to put up with the bad times you know what I mean just for those small moments of hope but it’s worth it in the end.

SHINGI: It’s the feeling of achievement that’s so satisfying even if you do something one day you’ll be like fuck ok, if I can do that then the possibilities are just endless

MUCHE: It just makes you like, I’m going to take it to the next level.

ALEYNA: Do you help each other train or learn?

MUCHE: Game of Skate, we should play a gam of skate now…

SHINGI: It’s like what’s that game on the basketball court…Donkey.

DSCF8412.JPG

DSCF8309.JPG

Featured

T H R E A D S: Yeezy Season 1 — “Awesome is possible”

“Were not always in the position that we want to be at, we’re constantly growing, constantly making mistakes, constantly trying to express ourselves and trying to realize our dreams” ∼ Kanye West

11 years after releasing College Dropout, Kanye West is still a revolutionary. He’s still an activist. Rich, but still restless at heart. If he died tomorrow his face would be slapped onto t-shirts and pumped out to the masses stupidly and blindly campaigning against capitalism, just like they did with Che and Dilla. Yeezy Season 1 comes to us via Adidas, but the brand works well, as Pat Ngoho, the 2014 International Skateboarder’s Union bowl champion said:

“There’s really no doubt that Adidas is probably the coolest shoe out there. They’ve just been accepted culturally around the world, in so many different circles and every single time they just do it in a very cool manor, so I’m stoked to be rocking em.”

The pieces in Yeezy’s new line feels like the modern day ‘gangsta’ taken out of the sagging pants cliché. The irony of it all is that Kanye the hated is giving it to the nay-sayers. From the streets to the cat walk, for Kanye, clothing seems to simply be another  facet of his deep and in-tune sense of self-expression. 

Season 1 isn’t made for those who loved College Dropout then got sick of him; his wife, her family or his big mouth. This line is made for those who saw the genius in the production, dating back to the Blueprint, and knew that no matter what he got up to, Kanye the visionary has a plan for hip hop and the youth. The question is, can you see it?

He says “It’s bigger than who I am even in this, you know, in my presence living, it’s about, what did I do to help? I want people to think more, I want people to feel like it’s okay to create and follow what their dreams are and not feel boxed in. I want people to feel like awesome is possible”.

It’s hard to get intentional rips in garments to look like they formed naturally. As aesthetically pleasing as all the ruggedness is, fashion-wise, it is a risk you take if your production doesn’t execute well. From the photos it seems Yeezy wanted it, took the risk, and achieved a good result with Adidas behind him. Season 1 is militant, mixed race, deep, classic, moody, future. It sort of reminds me of that movie Gattaca. But better because it’s a post apocalyptic world designed by Kanye, like a ghetto in the sky. I could see Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke in these threads though….and that’s why think it works for everyone.

Featured

Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala — “Sometimes, your tongue is cut out of your mouth at birth”

“My name in some countries translates as vessel so that’s literally my job is to be able to transport messages” ~ Jahra Wasasala

Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala is an Aotearoa-born mixed-race 23-year-old contemporary dancer, choreographer and spoken word artist who created the 2015 award winning contemporary dance theatre work titled “MOTHER/JAW” in collaboration with choreographic artist and dancer, Grace Woollett.
Winning ‘Best Dance Performance’ amongst others at the 2015 Fringe Festival, the contemporary dance/spoken word theatre work explored themes behind the rituals of passage into young womanhood, the stripped indigenous mother-country in a historical and modern context, and how we must connect young mixed blood to old stolen blood.

Jahra says she used to be disheartened that she couldn’t properly trace her roots back to their origins, and some of that struggle with culture and identity was certainly included in MOTHER/JAW. 
She says,
”I don’t think I’ll ever be able to completely trace my lineage. I think I’m in a position like a lot of people my age who can’t trace/can’t go back/can’t name their people, I used to be sad about it. But I don’t think it’s a sad thing anymore – I think it’s okay. I’m obviously a hybrid and an accumulation of everyone and everything that I come into contact with… Regardless of who I can name and can’t name, and regardless of who I can or can’t trace, they are with me all the time — they influence my work and how I am every day. So I obviously have a very diverse ethnic background, and it does shape me but it doesn’t define me as well”.Continue reading “Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala — “Sometimes, your tongue is cut out of your mouth at birth””

Featured

Interview: Stussy Beats on Godwave

A revisit is my take on a remix says Stussybeats. It’s an opportunity for him to recreate a track the way he feels it should’ve sounded in the first place.

“I don’t release revisits without making sure the artists are comfortable with it.”

For the past 20 minutes, I have been listening to the original release of Psalms 82:6 by KVKA; comparing the track to its revisit, back and forth, then I missed my cue to repeat; Stussy’s next track played on SoundCloud and got me all types of pleasantly distracted.

‘The First Gate’ instrumental opens with an an eerie death-angel, church-choir sample situation, the kind of emotion that makes the hair stand on end when you know something scary is about to happen in a movie.

“The First Gates sampling idea originally came about when I was thinking about soundtracks and the cinematic effect they have, I like to think of my music as a cinematic approach to the true feeling of a beat…A sort of drug or euphoria that gives you a certain feeling, so the idea of a gothic, god-like sound seemed unique to me, I’ve never heard it done like I planned it before, so I tested my idea out and created The First Gate, as well as the original Psalms outro.”

Continue reading “Interview: Stussy Beats on Godwave”

Featured

Nicki Minaj — You thought the Google thing was bad?

‘I Get Crazy’ by Nicki Minaj featuring Wayne was my introduction to Onika Maraj. I subscribed immediately. Although she was a new name to me in 2009, she had been going hard in the US for years. And then her Sucka Free mixtape came out and the reference to Lil Kim was there, from the start. “We did that pose to make a statement,” Nicki explained to Jabari Johnson in 2008. 

I subscribed to her flow and her balls, which allowed her to say whatever she felt like in her verses. Her flow was fierce and her bars held your attention; not just with words but flava too — there was no air of ‘token female rapper’ on her. As plain as that sounds in 2014 with the likes of Azealia Banks, Dej Loaf, Chelsea Reject and others today – back then – it was the beginning of a new trajectory in the realms of rap and women. There had been hardcore female rappers before her, but there was something about Nicki that pushed the envelope further and offered a fresh sound; eagerly, I anticipated the release of Pink Friday… The 2008 interview with Jabari Johnson did it for me:

JJ: Do you think it’s harder as a female rapper to achieve?

NM: Yessssss, why you think there’s only been a handful of females in the game the last 15 years. It’s hard because you get judged by the industry and you get judged by consumers, hard, bodied. Like females, we have this crab in the bucket thing, like we never wanna see another female get somewhere, so it’s very hard, because you get critiqued by the girls, boxed in by the dudes…

…Its’ very hard I write my own shit, that’s another thing, people, a lot of the times I work with people and they’re like, ‘Oh you need a ghost writer’? Like, boo, I do this, please don’t get it twisted, don’t get it confused. When I’m in the studio with Wayne, when I’m in the studio with whoever, I fuck with the best of them, come on, Jadakiss, come on, I write my own shit…People say, why you feel the need to say that all the time, I say it because there’s not a day that go by, where people don’t ask me, ‘You write your own raps?‘ and I got to say. ‘Yes fuckface, I do.’

 

Continue reading “Nicki Minaj — You thought the Google thing was bad?”

Featured

Interview: Marek Peszynski — Collecting Moments

“You can’t look at Riff Raff or Lil B and say that they’re involved in the Hip Hop movement you know because they’re not.”

What they do is just straight organic, ignorant, albeit fun, party-rap music which has no relevance to Hip Hop culture at all. Apart from the fact that they’re rapping, which I don’t think is enough to constitute them being involved in the Hip Hop movement.”

Marek Peszynski otherwise know as Mazdef Productions is a DJ, promoter and lover of Hip Hop and rap music. His story stakes a claim in Wellington’s clubbing/party-scene history, then extends to Los Angeles and London. Unknown to many, his timeline is a music lovers’ dream; as he humbly goes about his business as a father, partner, DJ.

He is also a collector — of many things and says big purchases must be run past his partner Rose first. But, it is also discovered Marek is a collector of moments in Hip Hop, like the time he spoke to J.Dilla’s mum on the phone after he had just passed away; or the time Chuck D turned down a free Wax Poetics from him; instead the Public Enemy legend hung out for a few hours then eventually paid for the magazine. There was the time he went to LA and gave out copies of the Feelstyle album on vinyl to new friends, as a piece of his culture to them.

This story is a collection of Marek’s epic moments; some are great and some shocking, some are hard and others are really funny. Marek, who lives in Wellington but hails from Auckland remembers being the only guy in attendance at some Hip Hop shows in the beginning of the culture’s existence in mainstream New Zealand music to now, where he says: 

“I love it [new school rap]. At the moment being open minded’s cool. You don’t have to like Lil B or LP but as long as you know the definition between rap music and Hip Hop music then it’s all good. Take Waka or Gucci Mane — that’s rap music, or technically that’s trap music, but you wouldn’t put that on calling it a Hip Hop show, because it’s not. It’s a rap show. Whereas people with craft — your Joey Badass, your Talib Kweli, your Kev Brown — people that encapsulate the culture a little bit more, that’s Hip Hop.” For him, it just so happens that his passion has become his work. He says, there are of course risks in promoting shows, “But there’s a satisfaction that goes with putting on events like this.”

Reflecting on his promoting career thus far he names Action Bronson as one of the highlights. “That was a huge risk, that was like the eighth of January, it was such a terrible time for any sort of show, everyone’s broke after new years or away and I just bit the bullet and put on the show and it sold out. He ended up loving New Zealand and coming to my house, hanging out with my children — he’s like one of the biggest rap stars in the world at the moment, it’s crazy.”

Marekcrossarms

The Beginning

HH: Where are you from?

M: I was born and raised in West Auckland.

HH: So when did you come to Wellington?

M: In 2000, I’d just turned 21.

HH: What are your earliest memories of music and hip hop?

M: I guess my father’s always been quite musical, although he wasn’t a musician, he’s got a massive vinyl collection of rock n’roll through to classical, old soul music — Barry White, Marvin Gaye and all stuff like that. I guess it was probably, firstly the record player itself I was fascinated by and just learning how to use that then listening to the music. It just went from there really — that was the start of my love for music. I guess the first time I saw Radio With Pictures, [which is a] music show during the late 80’s, you know I always used to sneak out of bed and watch TV, do that kind of thing.. seeing videos from like Run DMC I guess that was always the initial cross over for me.

HH: When you got to Wellington, what was your impression of it, from an outsiders POV?

M: Well I’d visited Wellington quite a bit before, I’d been to early King Kapisi shows and stuff like that at that club that used to be above Area 51, La Luna. I knew from then it’d always been a strong kind of community and then I guess when I was living in Auckland and starting to DJ around 1997/98 people like DJ Raw would come play at the DMC champs and stuff in Auckland, he was kind of my favourite turntabilist at the time. The whole turntabilism thing was so new to me and he was one of the first people I’d really seen do it really well — he was from Wellington obviously, so that association was pretty strong from the start.

pants are overated

DJing — The First Love

“DJing for me, I think, it doesn’t matter what I do, it will always be my first love. Playing music I love to a massive awesome, receptive-partying crowd. The buzz from that is still — nothing can beat that.”

HH: When you began, were you a competitive DJ?

M: Nah. I’ve never been but you know I’ve always played a mixed bag of different music. It was Hip Hop that I really wanted to play in clubs and that kind of a thing; obviously learning the basic scratching and stuff but it was never at the stage where I was extremely technical with what I do DJ wise.. still to this day I guess because I can’t scratch that amazingly, I’ve always been about making the song the focus.

HH: How’d your route go, starting out in Auckland?

M: Normally just playing parties. Playing for my friends. I ended up being a DJ for a group called Bahama 62 it was my first ever…Me and a bunch of my friends, there was Tourettes from Breakin Wreckwordz and now YGB — Dominic Hoey; we were living together at the time so we decided to start a rap group. That was kind of like more of a fun kind of party project — we didn’t have any serious gigs, we were quite involved in the punk and hard-core scene at the time so quite often [I’d play] at the punk parties cause everyone was into rap music.

HH: At what point were you like, I wanna do clubs?

M: I guess it was when the bands that were playing all the parties started playing at clubs and I was asked to play music. I think my first club show was at The Kings Arms, with my friend’s indie band; it was pretty terrifying for me. It was kind of cool in a way because it was all my friends there, but at the same time there was also a lot of the public there and I was still a beginner you know like I couldn’t really sort of blend properly, I couldn’t really scratch..I remember just getting so drunk — to the point where I passed out and I wedged myself between my record box and the wall.. the song ran out and there were people looking at the booth [laughs].. all they could see were these flapping legs.

HH: Mid-set?

M: Yeah. (Smiles).

HH: Passed out?

M: Well I didn’t pass out. I fell over and got wedged between the wall, fully conscious and aware of what was going on. [Cracks up]

HH: Okay so once you got to Wellington, what was your mission, were you still in a space where you were finding your own way as a DJ?

M: I guess so. Yeah. Like I said I started off with Hip Hop, but I’ve always been really eclectic with the sort of music I play. So I think by the time I got to Wellington, although I was still buying a lot of Hip Hop vinyl and stuff like that, I knew for me, there was probably more work in dance music; I would play Garage and US House even though the house music I was playing was like Kenny Dope & DJ Spinna who are still sort of — they’ve got their roots in Hip Hop as well.

Record Store Life — Before The Internet

HH: Did you have a day job?

M: About three months into moving here, I ended up living with Tourettes for a while; his partner at the time was working at the CD store on Cuba Street. I managed to get a job at the CD Store, the one that was on the corner of Cuba and Dixon Street.

HH: Did you plan to perpetually work in music, it seems that’s just sort of what’s happened for you…

M: Ummm, yeah, it was one of those things where I’d always wanted to work in a record store. Not a CD store, but a record, record store. I ended up working for the CD Store for a long time. They ended up buying the Tandy’s Music space in Manners Mall, which had Chelsea Records attached to it. Over the years between 2001 and 2004 I was moved around all the different CD Stores; when I became assistant manager down Lambton Quay there was an opening to come work at Planet Jacks in Manners Mall where the crêpe shop is now. I ended up managing Chelsea Records which was my first step into proper record store life.

HH: Which you’d always wanted to do..

M: Yeah and I ultimately got there. It took a little while hustling top 40 CD’s but I eventually made it to Chelsea Records.

HH: So working in the record store would have advanced your dig-game?

M: Absolutely. I had to step up my game just to keep on top of current music. People would come in asking for specific vinyl, they were smarter than yourself, so you have to keep on top of that. I was in charge of all the ordering, it was all imports — there weren’t many people who were bringing in records locally. It was just dealing with shops in New York, San Francisco, London — going through release sheets; faxing stuff backwards and forwards — this is before the internet. We were such an integral part..I sort of built a bit of a brand around Chelsea Records because I had the freedom to do that, I guess, the owners of the company didn’t really know about that kind of thing. I had a bunch of people — Jaz 72, Zen Yates, Duncan Croft who’d worked in record stores previously.

“Chelsea Records has been around since the 70’s — the brand, but we moulded it in to what it ultimately became in Wellington.”

HH: What did Chelsea Records ultimately become?

M: Basically one of the best record stores in the city. It opened up a global view for me; especially dealing with people from overseas on a weekly basis inn terms of seeing what releases were coming through.

HH: Were You DJ’ing at this time?

M: A little bit. But it really wasn’t until Bryce from Sandwiches hit up myself and Duncan. We used to do the Flava show every Friday night on Active and I had played stints at Studio 9, Goodluck, Matterhorn, & Watkins Bar too.. So Bryce used to listen to our show; we’d never met him, he just came into the store one day and said, ‘I’m opening up a club called Sandwiches, I want you guys to be the residents in the lounge’.

Sandwiches — A part of Wellington’s Clubbing History

“Clubs would be an extension of people’s lounge. Where as now, it’s just different.”

HH: How old were you then, were you ready?

M: 22, 23. Nah. I definitely wasn’t ready. Radio DJing is very different to club DJing. But it was because of our selections and the sort of stuff that we did, that’s why he wanted us.

HH: What were you feeling at the time. Do you remember?

M: A lot of Hip Hop, a lot of UK broken beat house, sort of new jazz — that kind of vibe, that was big at the time — right through to UK garage, US house..I think it was our eclectic nature which made us appealing. We weren’t specifically any genre.

HH: Looking back now, because you would have watched the music trends change over the past 10 years, in terms of party people, have you kind of drawn some conclusions over how trends change?

M: Mmhmm. Wellington specific, or maybe even nationally, club culture’s in a bit of a lull right now. Compared to back then, there just seemed to be more happening. More parties happening. I don’t know if it’s because we were younger. But there just seemed to be more happening. Sad to say, but there were more drugs [laughs]. And booze was cheaper in clubs and life was cheaper. You could smoke in clubs.. clubs would be an extension of people’s lounge. Where as now, it’s just different.

HH: As someone who was immersed in it, is it a good thing or a bad thing from your POV?
M: Um, evolution is evolution. But at the same time I’m not going to deny that things were definitely better back in the day. [Cracks up]. Music especially.. not about the specific kind of music, or the quality of the music, but the fact that it was so hard to source any of the specific stuff; when you did get a record or an import CD, you’d listen to it over and over; because it was so hard to get and it took six months to arrive — you really treasured it. Now, it’s so disposable and I can’t even remember the last time I sat down and listened through a whole song. Unless I’m sitting on the bus with headphones or whatever..If I’m sorting out music for a set, I’ll listen to 15 seconds of a track.

HH: As well, I’ve heard you’re a collector of things and as we’ve said everything’s so disposable these days, do you think collecting and cherishing music might be revived again?

M: I think if we’re looking at vinyl, it’s definitely on a massive incline. Which is really good to see. You have people like myself who are just really into collecting vinyl. Record labels recognise that — look at Stones Throw, every single release they do is either a picture disc, or it comes with a bit of art work or a beautiful folder. They’ve recognized the collector and people just don’t need a black slab of vinyl anymore. For a lot of people that’s like a massive inconvenience, but if you make it a collector piece that’s what’s brought back the resurgence….Even with vinyl releases of stuff — I bought A$AP Rocky’s album which is like a triple orange gate-fold record. Even though I [already] had it for months, I just liked the album and I thought it’s a beautiful piece of vinyl. I’ve got a turntable set up at home and I can chuck it on if I feel like it, but you know, I very rarely do that because it’s all loaded into my Serato.. But as a collector I like having the piece, it’s just a nice piece to have.

Marek The Collector

“Not only are you getting this beautiful item, you’re hearing the music and discovering new tracks and that’s how it was back when we were at the record store.. I’d order off a list of names and there’s no way of even hearing what you were even getting.”

Marekkaws

HH: So from a collectors point of view does the overly saturated digital market affect the thrill?

M: Definitely. I mean if I’d never heard that album or hadn’t been listening to that album for six months and it turned up on my doorstep, and I was looking forward to it; then obviously the buzz of getting that record, putting it on for the first time, listening to it, that just takes the collecting experience to a whole other thing. Not only are you getting this beautiful item, you’re hearing the music and discovering new tracks and that’s how it was back when we were at the record store.. I’d order off a list of names and there’s no way of even hearing what you were even getting. So it would turn up and we’d sit down and have a massive box.. it’d be like, so and so remixed by so and so or so and so’s new record. Sometimes you’d know a song by Giles Peterson or someone like that and rate it but most of the ordering was done blind or deaf; you’re just ordering off a name and it’s just luck of the draw what turns up.

HH: How many pairs of sneakers do you own?

M: I don’t know. Maybe… 90 pairs.

HH: And why do you like Be@rbricks?

M: It’s just a collecting thing. Be@rbricks are like a mixture of PLAYMOBIL and Lego, but each one is individual and specific to a certain artist — I’m a big fan of art and pop art, artists like Kaws and Stash I guess it was a love of graph art and then I explored other avenues of pop art and now I’m a fan of a lot of modern art.

Marek says: “I guess like you said, I’m a collector and part of collecting is the hunt. So earlier on, like I was saying, it was the hunt; the hunt to find these small pockets or these little bits of rap music; whether that be at the end of Arsenio Hall or listening to a three-hour reggae radio show in the hope that there’d be a rap song that I could record — that to me, I was collecting at the time. “

After successfully throwing ‘Space Jam’ last Friday, a 90’s Hip Hop party with special guest P-Money, and clocking one of the biggest nights ever for the venue — Betty’s Function House, Marek dusts off 2013 with a bang. The Mazdef x WDYFILWHH story is to be continued in the new year. Stay tuned…

Featured

Raiza Biza-Sitting On The Cusp Of Something Big

Raiza Biza know’s he’s on the cusp of something big with his music. It can be felt off the back of his last album Dream Something, which collected new followers and new cities to tour- including the South Island of New Zealand which Raiza sees as new ground to break.

“You know, there’s a lot of people who might have heard the name or might have seen the name floating around here or there but they haven’t yet seen it first hand, those are the people that I want to try and reach. But it’s a step by step process and right now it feels like we did the hard yards and it’s almost downhill from now.”

Continue reading “Raiza Biza-Sitting On The Cusp Of Something Big”

Interview: Shamima Lone – Before and after wearing a hijab

Shamima Lone stands with her mother at Miss Crab on Ponsonby Rd in Auckland, New Zealand. It is one week after the Christchurch terror attack. Later it would be confirmed 51 men, women and children were shot dead as they prayed on Al-Jumah, meaning the day of congregation, and Friday in Arabic.

For Muslims, it is a holy day. 

The shooter would become the first person ever to go to prison for life in New Zealand, without parole. He will not be named here, but it is clear he picked that day with hate in mind; streaming the shooting live on Facebook. The youngest shot, just three-years-old. 

In Auckland, encompassed in the shell-shock from New Zealand’s southern island, women of all ethnicities sort fashion to show solidarity with New Zealand’s Islamic community.

Worldwide, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern received criticism and praise for putting on a headscarf. At Miss Crab, Shamima was part of a team put together by The Love Movement, an Auckland based fundraising organisation that aids communities hit by devastating events like the shooting or the Indonesian earthquakes.  

On their event page, they wrote, “Our Muslim sisters have spoken to us of the discrimination they still face while wearing a hijab and the elevated fear they have been experiencing simply leaving the house with their hair covered..

In abundance, Shamima, her mother and women from the Auckland Muslim community donated scarves to the cause.

Something special Shamima’s mum was able to gift women who came to the #headscarfsforharmony event, was the knowledge of Noor. Meaning ‘the light’, it is said to be the glow that radiates from the face when a woman wears a hijab. 

Shamima’s sister-in-law, Rebekah Bristow said at Miss Crab, “For Shamima, when she’s wearing a headscarf or a hijab, she’s had a lot of racist remarks and been discriminated against.

“It’s important for us non-Muslim white women to really acknowledge the ease at which we can wear this,” Rebekah said.

Rebekah Bristow and Shamima Lone, Miss Crab Ponsonby, March 2018

It is March 2018, New Zealand’s staunch attitude that “racism does not exist here” is about to be exposed for the lie it is. So violent in its silence, racist people here, will smile in your face while they insult you, these are the type of scenarios Shamima has lived through.

Born in Auckland, at 38, these days she does not wear a hijab unless it is to a funeral. “I wore a hijab from 14 to when I got married at 22, then after I got divorced I transitioned out of it wearing hats and stuff like that.

“I just wanted to experience a different kind of experience. Back in those days, as soon as someone non-Muslim meets you, that’s all they want to know about you. The conversation is never around anything other than your religion or headscarf, you’re just so absolutely seen as that person.

“Auckland uni can be quite isolating, you just go to classes with 100s of people and you don’t get to chill with anyone. I’d catch my bus from Queen St. People would just come up and scream shit at me at the university, like terrorist or whatever. It was so hard.”

“Yeah, it was a very depressing period of my life.”

Just before Covid-19 2020, Shamima married a Kiwi. He understood for Shamima to stay connected to her family, he’d need to convert to Islam, so he did. Shamima says for people of the Islamic faith, dating in New Zealand is a tricky ground. “You know you can’t date anyone, or hold hands with someone,” she said.

“Growing up you’d have to date very respectful people who would try and understand where you’re coming from because I’m not trying to offend that person, I’m trying not to get in trouble with my family.”

“We talked about it a lot, getting married would have to be in a way that my family would accept it because I thought about what it would be like if they were not to accept it and how I would be outcast and lose touch with my family, roots, culture..

“I knew that would devastate me… I’m glad I was able to make it work in a way that didn’t break anything else.”

“If he didn’t convert then we couldn’t have gotten married and my family would have disowned me.

“It’s a complicated thing now, but because they could meet him and he could come to family things, I feel like it’s really brought parts of my life together. For years or decades, that’s not been able to happen.”

Shamima’s mum was born in Fiji, “My real dad is not really part of it, but my step-dad is from Pakistan”.

Shamima says the #headscarfsforharmony event was the first time she and her mother had been out together in Shamima’s social/western spaces. “My grandparents and my mum came here in the late ’70s from Fiji.”

Shamima was in high school when she started wearing a hijab. Her family decided when she got her period, it would be a good time to start. “I was very much a believer of my religion, so the first day I wore it to high school, I noticed and felt a change of perception of me.”

While some women living between Western and Eastern cultures can give people back just as much shit as they’re given in public, Shamima says, she didn’t get that trait. “I felt how the world perceived me so it made me more insecure. I wasn’t someone who was like, I’m going to be brave and do my thing and not care what people think of me, I was very much scared of it.”

Almost two years after the Christchurch shootings, Shamima says she can feel the progress of inclusion and more representation making positive impacts on her community, although white guilt and tokenism is hard to wade through.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain highlights that New Zealand Police were aware of racism toward Muslims in Christchurch. News reports claim members of the Muslim community there had formally complained to Police of incidents, but they had not been taken seriously. Before the shootings, Islamophobia was as an acceptable part of New Zealand society.

“Earlier this year [2020] I was asked to review this exhibition that was commemorating a year after the shootings happened,” Shamima says.

“Someone got in touch and asked to write and review the show – it was awful. It’s as if they were like, does anyone know someone brown or Muslim or are related somehow, we’ll just get them to come and write this promo piece for our show’.

“When I went in, the lady explained Islam and being Muslim and told me what a Muslim would see when they looked at this piece of art… ‘this is what a Muslim house has’…basically talked me through this body of work that was not made by Muslim people. The whole time, I was like ‘What’s going on’?!

“I felt so freaked out, then I had to go home and write this review that I didn’t want to write.” 

“That opportunity only came my way because of the Christchurch attacks and then people finding out about my background, it’s weird.”

Serum: It’s hard to know what your voice is when you’ve spent so much time being quiet… 

S: Yup I definitely did that, even in my house growing up we had dynamics where I didn’t really speak up. So I had to be mindful of when I can voice myself, how I do it, what words I pick and what tone am I allowed to use. 

S: Are you proud that people are having these conversations now? For me, it took ages to prove racism exists first…

S: I feel like I’m in a lot of rooms where it kind of doesn’t exist, it’s not acknowledged. It’s very present and it’s never talked about and now people are like ‘Oh you should come along and do the diversity course and I’m like, ‘Why do I need to do the diversity course’?!

Creative: Stevee Rose does not recommend burning a candle at both ends

Mum, entrepreneur, ex-basketballer and all around girl-boss Stevee-Rose has some advice about haters – use them. For her, embracing people’s doubt meant finding herself turning 30 and resigned to chillin on a beach, on a Tuesday, jobless but still paid. 

 Stevee says the best part about her decision to quit her job and focus full-time on her business, is being able to be with her daughter more. “I just really value my time” she says.

Making candles and planters was something she started during lockdown, just for her. Then, orders started coming in to the point where she said it no longer made sense to keep her day job. “Almost everyday, I’d make more money from my side business than my day job. At six figures, I was like nah, ‘Why am I here’”?

It took a little bit of a push, “But I was like, no, I need to just take the leap and do it,” she said. 

In this interview  she shares her mind-set, of how to become the only Māori woman working at an IT company, earning over six figures a year. Then, how to walk away from that, because you’ve levelled up to never having to work for someone else again.

Now she does what she wants, making moulds of Dennis Rodman’s face for soy wax candles or Nike Air Jordan cement planters.

We hope her story can inspire others to believe in themselves and go for it ALL in 2021.

Stevee:  A few of my friends have quit their jobs this year as well and they are working as full-time creatives too. I try my best to support them as much as possible.

Serum: 2020 has been crazy. It’s like there has been a creative awakening…

S: I’ve almost been in Brisbane for two years, I came here with no job and  stayed with my nephew to start. Then in one week, I got a job, house and a car. It was crazy just coming here with nothing, but I work in IT, so I was quite sure I would find something because it’s a pretty booming field. When I did start working, I just had no flexibility with my daughter and I was playing basketball as well ..It was nuts. I would get home at like 10pm and I’d be racing around all day, driving all over the city, and it felt like, ‘this isn’t living’. I felt burnt out and I’ve always just wanted to have some more freedom, that’s always been what I want. 

S: When did you quit your job?

S: I started doing this in July and I quit my job in September, it was a few months of doing two jobs but then in September it went full-time because I was making more money from my side business than my day job.

S: In your IT job, as a woman earning over six figures you would have been a minority, no?

S: I felt like being a young Māori woman, that was big, because IT is a white-male dominated field and it was cool. My family arent in the corporate game, I grew up in state housing in Northcote and I’ve just been around shitty kids that would make me feel less for where I lived  or because my dad drives Harleys, so he’s ‘a gangsta’ and I was always just like, ‘Fuck you,  I’ll show you and that drove me for a while, but now I don’t feel like I need to think like that anymore. It’s not good [to permanently think like that].

S: Like you, showing other women there’s no one way of doing anything…

S: I remember when I started in IT. I wasn’t qualified for the job but it was another Māori guy who was like,  ‘You know what, I wanna give a young wahine a chance so I’m going to take you on’. That was out of like 100 applicants – I know for some people that might seem racist or discriminatory but it basically kicked my career off.

S: That’s how it works aye,  that one guy who decided you know what, I wanna give you a chance.. 

S: Yip and he stayed my mentor for many years. He is highly successful and stays connected to his roots so he is a great person in my life. Whenever we talk we try to talk in Māori which is cool.

S: What are your candle/planter design staples? 

S:  My candles and my planters are my main now, it was so scary because as a single mum in Australia, you get no government assistance or anything and I knew that if I failed, it would be a thing. I was honestly forced to do it full-time, unexpectedly, because some days I would just get so many orders that I was earning more than my day job. I kinda had no choice but to decide between the two. 

S: So how did that go for you?

S: I don’t make wholesale orders anymore because it’s not enjoyable and I wanted to stop mass producing and keep my stuff just a bit more exclusive and ethically sourced. There are a few other businesses who started at the same time as me, and they are fully pumping; doing wholesale in factories, with employees making body candles, there’s nothing wrong with that but it just felt like that wasnt me. There’s always a new design that I’m doing and it’s not about worrying about money at this stage, it’s just like I’m sure if I like it, then it’ll be all good. 

Stevee incorporates her personality into her candles and her passion for basketball. She also makes PlayStation controller designs and recently added a Nike Air Jordan 1 into her collection.

S: I’ve played basketball since I was five, it’s kind of been my life. My dad’s been my coach. He would wake me up almost every morning at 6am so we could shoot and he would rebound. I hated it at the time but it’s taught me valuable life skills. I coach my daughter over here, and I used to play here.

S:There’s no rules in creative lanes anymore, like you can be making candles shaped like a PlayStation controller, because the internet..

S: I’m just experimenting with different materials now, paints, spray paints soy wax and it’s just real cool. I’ve connected with heaps of people and made new creative friends too, a mate lives in Burleigh and we just go and do projects together – we just made a Jordan shoe out of flowers. I don’t want to make things with a focus to make money, I wanna make things because I like it. I found that is the best way to be, just yourself because opportunities will arise and people sense an authenticity in you.

Stevee says 2021 will be about her. She is focused on the gym at the moment and getting her body looking how she wants to and therefore feeling how she wants to. 

S: Society has always told me to get a job, buy a house, be in a relationship and that was really cool. Then I worked up to being a project manager earning six figures in Auckland city. But I  came to a point where I realised I highly value my time.

Now, it’s about focusing on  the small things, everyday I will drop my daughter off to school and feel good I don’t have to take her to before school care, then I’ll get to the gym at 9am and come home and start working until it’s time to do school pick ups, the flexibility is great. I am thinking about getting a part-time job at a smoothie shop or a florist just to break up my time and have a little structure and learn new things. I think that will be fun. 

I can work or meet up with friends and I feel like this is living, not me reaching all these goals that I’m ‘supposed’ to reach, so my 30’s is about stepping out of that.

S: I think there needs to be more stories of this shared for those left in the suburbs to look at your story and be like, yes, you can follow your dreams.

S: Polynesians and Māori are so talented at sport, art, everything, and I just feel like we have culture ingrained into our existence. It’s a natural thing that we come with and we’re so blessed. I honestly see so many kids with potential who just need a bit of help, the plan is to give back to the youth and do whatever I want. Being Māori is so important to me. If anything I can show people just to follow your passion in whatever that is. 

POET: Grace Iwashita-Taylor: “The sound of resistance is a woman’s voice”

Grace Iwashita-Taylor, mother, poet and theatre-maker says her next body of work will focus on poetry as medicine. “It’s only in the last year that I’ve realised decolonising has had its time, we’re now in the stage of indigenising,” she says. The feminine force behind establishing South Auckland Poets Collective [SAPC], a group focussed on poetry as a tool for social change. Beginning in 2008, she and two other men started holding space for people from South Auckland wanting to get into it. Held at the Otahuhu Community Center in a time when there was no GPS, finding my way from Auckland central to the centre was by sheer will to be a part of what this woman was creating. 

Having just met at the Auckland Writers Festival, the impact she’d have on me would be life-changing. At the contest, the pub was packed. Standing solo on stage, lit by a spotlight and nothing else; Grace delivered her poem about being an Afakasi woman who was born and bred in South Auckland.

Embodying a strength that, for me, was rare and before her time. At 25, she had found it, that mana that holds you with conviction, while a room full of people you can’t see, watch you express your truth. 

 Rapper, King Kapisi was a judge that night. Grace won the competition, followed by Dominic Hoey and me. Back then, there was Def Jam poetry on YouTube, but no solid outlet for slam-style poetry, yet. Just over a decade later, Grace has released two books, directed four plays and written one. In 2021 she plans to venture into digital storytelling; something she has already started.

In her video, MANA WAHINE OF THE FRONTLINES, she plays with a visualizer. Dedicating the piece to the civic justice movement at Ihumātao, Auckland.

The movement was lead by a group of Māori women, and inspired Grace to write a conjuring of strength for those disheartened by the power of major corporations upon indigenous land. “The sound of resistance is a woman’s voice because she is well trained in the art of resilience,” she echoes through the video. Her son Darae turns 11 this year and in the interview below we talk about the strength and grit required to be a working mama, daughter to a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and a working creative in one of the most expensive cities in the world:

S: As the gift of you sharing your guts, there’s no hiding with the content and style you perform… 

G: It’s part of my mahi to share that energy. I’m not the best writer, poet or performer but vulnerability…I am my name.. that’s my strength as a creative. It has taken me some time and skill to understand the strength in that, and be able to be open, and from the gut, but to also keep myself safe. People, in general, are learning how to receive art and pay and give it what it’s worth. I decided for myself, that I really do believe that my words can change shit. Anything I share with anyone whether it’s one-on-one or whatever, it doesn’t have to have a resolution or a pretty ending but it has to be life-giving. 

S: Can you explain life giving more? 

G: I’m focussed on poetry, that’s medicine, some medicines are temporary, some are bitter for a bit and then it helps you, but that’s where I’m focussed now. 

S: What was happening in your world when you wrote your poem the Metrics of Love

G: I guess it’s kind of what’s been going on in my world for a while and that is, I think I’ve inherited my mum’s [work ethic]. It’s that being a working mum, doing a full-time job at home, a full-time job in the workplace, full-time everything in all the roles of your life. It was about how I’ve seen the impact that’s had on my mum, having that many women within herself for so many years. I do think that’s contributed to her dementia, or at least the fast progression of it. I don’t want to work myself to the bone. I want to be able to be gentle on myself because I can be hard on myself. I think that’s a thing a lot of working mum’s have and I think every household goes through it to some degree.

S: Where is your mum now? 

G: Mum has been in a care home since March 2018. She started in a normal care home then she had to move into dementia-specific care in November 2018. We had to sell her house because we ran out of money for the fees which are $7100 a month. We sold the house to pay off the mortgage, which we’d already borrowed money against to pay off her care; it was during a time that was shitty to sell so we sold for $100,000 less than it was worth… Auckland market..

S: How long did your mum own that house 

G: 42 years, with my dad too. That was our family home so mum and dad split when I was 18 and mum took over the mortgage. 

S: How many jobs at once do you remember her doing?

G: Four.

S: For how long?

G: For like 10 years. Regardless of those 10 years, mum’s worked 14-hour shifts, six days a week like, forever. 

S: Whether we’re rugby mums or ballet mums, we’re all taking care of our communities with the same intention across the board hey…

G: The hardest thing for me, is when the fight against the oppressor or ‘them’ spills out and explodes within our own community, and that lateral shit between women and women is so ugly and so painful to watch. 

S: It definitely has shut me down and my voice at times …

G: And when it comes from a sister, is a whole other level of hurt.

S: But yeah, women have to stand by women especially when we’re such a minority to start with…

G: And the fight is not just for one woman or one group to do. It’s everyone like we’re all part of an ecology and every ecology has different atoms, cells and organisms and all that. We all have our part to play for something to change. For some people that takes a laying down of ego because the ego does not serve change. Look at history, when did ego ever serve anything good?

I’m in this program this year called Mum Moana, last weekend we did a retreat and the sub-theme of it was love. Regarding love as the ultimate level of leadership, and just the idea of that, within the world that we sit in… Can you imagine walking into a corporate space and being like, ‘ah love’…Like what the fuck! [Laughs].

S: So your practice, you do your day job and then your creative work on the side or, how does that work for you? 

G: At the moment I have a full time 9-5. I’m working for a government agency but within a public policy team. I have that job to pay the bills. This particular job contributes directly to my Pasifika community. .. I can only last so long in those spaces.. though I don’t work full-time as an artist, I still maintain the same level of a full-time artist’s career with my day job because I love to do it. 

S: In the past decade, what have you learned about yourself as a creative and a mama, because that hustle only comes from sheer will right?

G: Totally. I think the biggest impact has been becoming aware of my energy as a currency. When I first started in my arts career I’d say yes to everything and I would just run myself fucken ragged. Now I know my worth as an artist. I’m very clear about my boundaries so I’m not going to say yes to a creative project just for the moment or just because who is involved. It has to align with my own values and my own kaupapa. Anything that I do outside of my family home, even if it’s hanging out with my friends, I’m compensating time away from my family and my son.

S: It takes a minute to learn that though eh? 

G: For sure! But I say no to more things now than I do yes because I am ruthless with my rules…I remember one time [it began to change] it was a Saturday and I turned up to run a workshop, then I realised, I had scheduled my day as such, that I had to be in two different places at once and the third thing was only five minutes [travel time] to get to the next thing, and I was having quite a moment cause I [stopped] and thought, ‘What the fuck are you doing? You are one human being – like that’s physically impossible’. Haha, like who do you think you are?!? [Other times it hits] when a child notices your absence and you notice that you’re spending more time trying to help other people. Suddenly you turn around and you’re like, ‘oh shit, my kid’s got some shit going on’.

S: I guess from mama to mama, I think it’s an important message to share with other women, to know like don’t worry, these balancing acts are a part of establishing yourself as a practitioner or a contractor, or whatever it is people are doing when they get that pang of, I shouldn’t be here, I need to be at home. 

G: Yeah totally and it’s not like you’re going to perform at a gig or whatever, it’s not just that time away. It’s the prep-time that goes into it beforehand.  

S: When you introduce yourself these days, do you say you’re a poet first or… 

G: I say I’m a mother first. Then I’m a poet and a theatre maker. 

S: I remember meeting Jahra Rager out of that scene you created, does that legacy ever hit you?

G: Not really, it does in moments where I sit at an event and I see poets that I taught way back are now running events or they’re the ones mentoring these up and coming ones, and to be honest I do have moments and I feel really proud of that. Especially other poets from SAPC, and where they’ve got to now…Sometimes I think man, you guys need to learn your genealogy of where these platforms came from… 

S: I feel that…

G: We’re at a stage now of collective awareness and there are people that are doing so much mahi, not even visible mahi. I mean behind the scenes, to create these platforms that don’t even get acknowledged. My manager, she’s one of those people. She does so much fighting behind doors that people don’t even know about, and people get opportunities out of it. She’s not doing it for the applause she’s doing it because it needs to be done. I do think there’s a need for those that are just understanding what’s going on and wanting to affect change to track themselves back because there have been people before you that have had the machete and have been putting shit down to make something. 

S: And this generation right now, it’s not the end of the mahi, they’ve got their part to play and the next generation will have their part to play. 

G: Something I think that’s important for this generation currently, it’s really important to find a way to not focus on the struggle too much. When you focus on the struggle you’re giving it power, so you’re being counterproductive. It’s only in the last year I’ve realised decolonising has had its time, we’re now in the stage of indigenising. When you say decolonising, you’re actually still placing the oppressor at the centre, we’re implying that we have to push away from something. When actually, we’re the centre and that’s where the buck stops. It’s about holding your ground and it’s not about them anymore, it’s not about them because the expertise is here with us. 

S: People are only just recognising that and it’s painful to realise why that happened but also fucking exciting that it is…

G: Totally. 

S: As a busy mama doing your 9-5 and everything you’re juggling, what to do you do to come back to your middle? 

G: 100% I am not equalized when I haven’t done something creative for the week, if not daily if I can, and it can be the smallest thing and the most simplest. I have certain rituals I’ve developed over the last year, especially after getting extreme anxiety where I stopped performing and everything. .. it’s manifested into health anxiety, it’s some really fucked up shit. In terms of that stuff, I engage with mirirmiri and houora practices. Activating my sense of smell, so essential oils are big for me, rongoa that has good smells, well, all rongoa has good smell. But that’s what brings it home for me. The biggest thing now though is having fun.

When you have financial problems, and last year especially, losing our house, having so many bills and all this shit; being able to have fun was really fucking hard, being able to smile and laugh was hard, so now, that’s what I focus on. When I’m getting stressed out, I need to have some crazy, silly, stupid fun. 

S: Sometimes do you get that whole mum, creative imposter syndrome thing…

G: I did have one time where I felt like I had imposter syndrome. I was writing and performing a lot of ‘I’m an empowered woman’ stuff and yet my ex was cheating on me, my relationship was falling apart, my whole personal life was shitting itself and here I was being like ‘I’m an empowered woman’… but really I’m going to my car after a performance and crying my fucking eyes out and being a mess. I feel like there’s so much risk in the glorification of pain and trauma and even a glorification of healing is not safe either. I had a moment in Hawaii in 2018 where I realised, I love the poetry I have in Full Broken Bloom and I’m proud of that. It’s good writing and it helped me, but when I was performing these poems I was like, fuck this is constantly repeating the healing I’ve supposedly gone through, but if I’ve gone through it then why am I performing it? I literally wanted to burn all my books and I didn’t want to share any of that poetry anymore. I was like if you’ve done the healing… That’s the thing, trauma can be toxic when it’s repeated, but then healing can too sis. 

S: That’s powerful …

G: If people applaud you and pay for you to perform it and pay for the books and they applaud you for the healing and it’s like well, then have you healed? 

Have you though? 

REGARDE. MOI 2: The house that Bahati built

The Bahati siblings are those kids – the family whose house you always wanted to hang out at growing up, because it’s like a creative fortress of possibilities.

Specialising in photography [Synthia], oil painting [Sonielle] and video mash-ups and clothing design [Frandson]; the three say, they are stoked their second exhibition, REGARDE-MOI. VOL 2 drew people to their vibe.

In this interview, the sisters say they are happy they can contribute to making positive space for young People Of Colour [POC] in Auckland’s arts, culture and music scene. “I feel like we don’t try to be anything we’re not,” Synthia said. “We don’t come from anything flash and you can see from the videos that it is what it is, we’re not trying to show off, we’re just doing us.”

Sonielle says Frandson’s Instagram video edits are like Indie films. By cutting up random moments the siblings experience day-to-day, he folds audio and video editing into art. “His style is nostalgia, it is this feeling of memory and recreating memories, manipulating it through edits and stuff to make a new memory over an old one,” Synthia explains.

Sonielle said she loved how people who came to their exhibition felt reflected on the walls. Held at the After Ours studio on Cross St, she says “When you have traditional artworks or display spaces, it’s not often that you can look at the artwork and see that reflection.”

“At the exhibition they could take live pictures of themselves so, they too, were a part of the work,” Soni said.

The Bahati’s said they can see how their creative contributions are helping to build space for young Black and POC creatives in Auckland city. Synthia said they are not the only ones putting in work, but are proud to be a part of the movement. 

DJs Soraya, Pharaohswami and Andy Heartthrob also played live sets on the night too. “The DJs that were there have different styles but they know how to bring people together with the music they play and they made such an amazing atmosphere to have around our art,” Soni said.  

Synthia has been an active creative in the Auckland fashion and music scene for a few years now, recently shooting Frandson modeling for Paris Georgia, and featured in the Viva print special of up and coming black creatives in Auckland city, her focus as an arts practitioner has always been centered around seeing Black people in Auckland represented visually.

A sense of community to her, is vital for minority groups in big cities. She says if it wasn’t for her community, she would focus on other subjects.  “It’s why we do what we do because of the community and the people around us. Without that, I wouldn’t be doing this, I’d be doing something else,” Synthia said.

“Community is so important around Auckland because it’s so easy to feel like you’re alone. There are less of us, but the more we work towards making this community bigger, the more opportunities for everyone, then we will all have somewhere we can belong and connect,” Soni said.

“It’s more for the younger generation growing up, bearing in mind, what are they going to see growing up?” Synthia said.

In the future, real inclusion the sisters say, looks like a platform where Black creatives own the autonomy to actually direct their own narratives and portfolios in mainstream commercials, instead of just being a guest. 

 “It doesn’t make sense for someone who wouldn’t have a clue about a people or culture to come and be like, you’re going to come and do this and this; that’s how you get big mistakes happen and accused of cultural appropriation in the first place”, Synthia said.

 “You know the Gucci thing, with the scarf and the lips or people doing Black face or putting Black people in animal print then calling it jungle fever, it’s things like that.” 

“‘You don’t really have an excuse to be doing that these days; there’s your business and your creative team and I can guess what that looks like,” Synthia said. 

“It’s also about people educating themselves..You can’t just hire a person to tick a box and think ‘oh cool we’ve done our part and that’s it,” Synthia said.

Although 2020 ushered in a lot more inclusion for People of Colour in the arts and media realms, Soni and Synthia say there is still a long way to go.

“There could be people who don’t get access to see our world every day. One guy [at a different party] who asked to see my Instagram was like, ‘Your photos are really cool but why do you only photograph African-Americans?’’ and I was like, actually they all live here and have all pretty much grown up here. “But he was so surprised like ‘all these people live here?’

Synthia is the only one of the siblings born in Tanzania. Soni and Frandson were born in New Zealand. Synthia says:  “Representation and genuine interactions [with non-Black people] has improved since I was a child but you know we still get asked, can people touch our hair in restaurants and like, ‘oh my god it’s so soft’ and for me it’s so sad to see like this guy would have never had a Black friend in his life.. people are not branching out of their comfort zones of what they know to gain new experiences. So they become so closed off to the idea of being around other ethnic groups.”

Sonielle says “In the creative industry I feel like some people underestimate how powerful it is to just have a range of people in shoots or on TV. When I go outside and walk around the city, I see a wide range of people, different ethnicities and different looking people in Auckland.”

S: Well it’s like the ultimate goal would be to get to a place where it’s not even about that right, for art practitioners that are of colour,  to have their work just speak for itself right? 

Synthia: Exactly, definitely. 

S: Some of the role of artists in society is to document or reflect events that are happening to humanity, in Auckland there was an iconic Black Lives Matter movement which reached global news platforms, did that influence your output this year?

Synthia: I feel like I’ve been making work about Black people and wanting to celebrate them for a while, so it wasn’t anything new to me.  It was cool that more people are realising there’s Black people in Auckland but I think the BLM march was just the start.  And we’re Black people, I personally don’t think it’s our responsibility to educate people. I was just tired this year. It’s not up to us to educate or beg people like, ‘hey please care about us’, it just shouldn’t be a thing… I just don’t understand why people are so horrible.