Law student collabs with Māori fashion designer on grad gown redesign

Malina Grube's take on the garment represents her experience of life in New Zealand

Law student collabs with Māori fashion designer on grad gown redesign

In line with Education New Zealand’s Manapou ki te Ao I AM NEW initiative, law student Malina Grube has collaborated with Māori fashion designer Kiri Nathan to redesign the traditional graduation gown.

Grube, who hails from Germany, told NZ Lawyer that she wanted the garment to represent “new me shaped by both my past in Germany and my life in New Zealand.”

“Working with Kiri Nathan was pretty surreal considering all the big projects she has worked on before and made me feel really special to know that she had designed my kākahu together with students and my story in mind,” Grube said. “I love how you can see the influence in the design of everything that makes up Aotearoa, including the influence of Te Ao Māori, which of course is a big part of Kiri's brand too.”

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Grube pushed for the kākahu to be blue to represent the ocean, which connects her hometown of Bad Schwartau with New Zealand.

“I am hoping to work in international law/human rights law in the future, so I feel like my background, the connection to the ocean, which connects everything internationally also represents where I would like to go in the future,” she explained. “The poutama on the back of the gown specifically speaks to me. Law school can be tough, and there is a lot of work to do, i.e., steps to climb, but looking back at everything I have achieved, it makes me feel really proud.”

Grube’s family was also an important inspiration in the design of the gown.

“Kiri and the students at Whitecliffe designed the gown based on my story, the importance that my family plays and has played so far and the way that both New Zealand and Germany make me feel at home. During my time here in New Zealand, I have learned so much and adapted to the way of life here, while also maintaining my German culture,” she told NZ Lawyer.

“I hope that other international students and Kiwi students get the chance to wear a gown that represents their journey too. It will feel so special wearing the gown at my graduation.”

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