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WORDS | Briar Pomona (she/her) ILLUSTRATION | Charlie Ratahi (she/her)

My favourite thing about hui are the whaea fits. I’ve been a fan since the days I would pirouette between my Nanny’s pantyhosed legs. I know many an aunty that, at any moment, could be transported to some fashion week scene. They pick things up from all sorts of places and tailor them to suit.

Their manicured nails and pounamu rings match their kete and paua scarfs. Pops of colour break up the classic long black skirt and jacket combo. Hair is brushed wispy and may have even had a purple toner run through it. Makeup is minimal because it’s the lippy that does the talking - but not before making an appearance on the cheeks of mokopuna.

The whiskers on their chins are all a part of the aesthetic, every one a reminder of life. There’s something about them stabbing you in the cheek during the hareru line that touches our hearts. If the whaea wears glasses, the frame would’ve been thoroughly thought out as to complement her outfits. If they’re big and chunky, she’s a creative type with a spiky short pixie. If the glasses are minimal and sit neatly at the tip of her nose, she’s a brain box. And if her specs are at the end of a chain or sitting on her head, she’s a baddie.

I love the way whaea congregate over kai and clothes. It’s like their catnip. A kōrero will always ensue over a nice pair of leather shoes and where that aunty copped her pair of shark tooth earrings from. If we were planning to trap all the most stylish aunties and nannies of the motu, all we would have to do is hold a Kahungunu AGM with an Adrienne Whitewood pop-up advertised on the flyer.

I learnt from my Nanny and aunties that clothes should be delegated as such: home clothes, town clothes and hui clothes. Hui clothes being the best of them all. How else will the whaea disseminate the raru of the world without the freshest pair of denier 100 + stockings or a pristine conditioned bolero cardi?


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