The brother and sister taking World of Wearable Arts by storm

Tarikura Kapea is getting the finishing touches before the hitting the stage at the 31st World of Wearable Arts Awards in Wellington.

"When people ask about the show I say it's a really interesting combination between fashion, art, circus, theatre and dance," Tarikura says.

During the eight years she's been with the prestigious annual event, she's had the chance to wear creations from the wacky to the wondrous - this fashion show is not your typical catwalk gig. 

"I have worn some outrageous things over the years. One year, it was the Bizarre Bra year and I wore two taxidermied hedgehogs, as a bra," she says.

"What I find really intriguing is the story-telling aspect, and I kind of identify as a storyteller, and have since I was a kid. That's what keeps bringing me back actually".

It's been a big year for 27-year-old Tarikura. The stage and screen arts graduate got her first big acting break recently in Three's mini-series Jonah.

World of Wearable Arts Wardrobe manager Leonie Trathen has been there since Tarikura started with the show, and reckons Tarikura has a powerful presence onstage. 

"She's a born performer, she's an amazing mover. You've got to embody the garment, take onboard all the inspiration and really get the feeling of that garment. She does that so well, she's so passionate about every garment she wears, and it shows."

Tarikura Kapea
Tarikura Kapea. Photo credit: The Hui

Tarikura says it's a real privilege to be part of the creative process.

"Some of the designers work on these garments for years, months and they put their whole heart into it, so you feel a real sense of obligation. We feel a real sense of duty to the designers cos it's their babies, it can really launch their careers. It's a really big deal for them."

It's such a great gig Tarikura encouraged her sports-mad younger brother Rawiri to audition too. Modelling in this show is about as far from a rugby field as you can get.

"I would say it's the polar opposite! Sports is definitely my longest standing passion. When I was young that was all I did - eight hours a day, every single day I'd be playing sports," Rawiri says.

 The 24-year-old was most at home playing basketball, cricket and rugby, but they were all side-lined once his creative talents kicked in. 

"Growing up in kohanga and kura, kapa haka is always there, and so as a young one I probably wouldn't have considered myself artistic at all. But then once I did start getting into music, that foundation is kind of already there, and then it was a matter of building on it," says Rawiri.

Rawiri knows no music theory, it was all self-taught. He started playing guitar and piano at 15 years old. Music is in their genes. And the pair credit their parents for encouraging them to give anything a go.

"It was lots of shows, lots of dancing, lots of music, and of course both of them are Kohanga Reo kids as well so that you get the culture club group coming through because there's always a lot of singing," says their father, Tokorangi Kapea. "I think performance is a lot more encouraged in that environment, which for Māori we take for granted."

Rawiri. Photo credit: The Hui

In 2015 the Kapea kids got to treat their whanau to a special performance, appearing side-by-side in Shakespearean-inspired ensembles.

"It was really special. It was called Oh Shakespeare - beautiful black, really strong garment. Our whanau comes every single year and that year we probably had 30 people supporting us. So it was a really cool, really special time," remembers Tarikura.

"It was awesome, before every show we'd give each other a big hug, and a big high five and just go out there and do our thing. It was really special, especially when the whole family was there," Rawiri adds.

The Aotearoa section is a highlight of the show - where designers create garments that celebrate our culture and history, and it's were the Kapea siblings shine the brightest. 

"I've had some really beautiful moments during the show," says Tarikura "I've done poi on stage, I've performed taiaha, I've performed waiata. I feel really honoured and privileged to be Māori and in the show because I feel Māori have so much to offer the creative space. We are naturally gifted in movement and song, and again storytelling is part of our history. It's everything that we know."

And Tarikura's talents don't end there - she's also a trained yoga teacher, something the World of Wearable Art has embraced as part of the warm-up routine before every show. 

"We think it's really important to whakanoa, to bring everybody together, to feel in unison, so that when we're onstage we can feel each others' energies and each others' presence."

Their Dad Tokorangi reckons he can spot them no matter how quirky the costume they're wearing. 

"Sometimes they've got a mask but you still can tell just by the way they walk and hold themselves. You go, 'Oh - that's one of mine.'"

With the show's three-week run over, they've already mapped out their next move. Tarikura is heading off to Thailand for the last stage of becoming a fully qualified yoga teacher, and Rawiri has a one-way ticket booked to travel around South America.

"It's funny because we've been separated before, it won't be anything new but it is interesting, for the last two months we've worked together, and lived together, so there's been a lot of time spent where it's us two rolling against the world," says Rawiri.

Ready to take on the world - but they both say their success began at home.

"They've been incredible parents in the sense that they've just let us do what we want to do. Whatever we choose to do they're there ready to tautoko, it's nice," Tarikura and Rawiri say.

The Hui