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South Auckland designer of Māori clothing gets help from whānau as orders pile up

A Kiwi designer of traditional and contemporary Māori clothing has orders piling up as kapa haka competitions roll out around New Zealand. 

Last week, more than 60 primary schools gathered in Hamilton for the biannual Te Mana Kuratahi kapa haka nationals.

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Leisha Conrad is currently producing kākahu for many of the kapa haka competitions around the country. Source: Te Karere

And with senior regionals coming up, the South Auckland designer has had to garner help from her daughters to accommodate demand.

Leisha Conrad operates Kaikihikihi Arts from her shed in Manurewa, creating and designing traditional and contemporary kākahu, or clothing.

Her main philosophy is 'by whānau, for whānau', which is why family is stepping in to help.

“Why do I do it? Because I make money - this is how we used to make money. Back in the day, you know, if we wanted to go to the shop we'd do some tātua's and stuff then she would give us money," says her daughter, Wairahi Thomson.

Ms Conrad has brought her daughters up around the many traditions of te whare pora, or weaving, since they were born and hopes to carry out her teachings into their future.

“I have so many ideas I want to experiment," she tells TVNZ1's Te Karere. "I not only make bags, I make piu bags, I make mau rākau bags, I do diving gear - I can sew anything."