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Top Māori fashion designer Kiri Nathan takes home prestigious BLAKE Leader Award

Her designs have been worn by the Obamas, Beyonce and the Prime Minister when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited New Zealand.

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Kiri Nathan’s designs have been worn by the likes of the Obamas, Beyonce and the Prime Minister. Source: Breakfast

Now, leading Māori fashion designer and mentor Kiri Nathan has been awarded the prestigious BLAKE Leader Award. The award is given out every year to celebrate an extraordinary New Zealand leader who has made a significant contribution to the nation.

Ms Nathan said what was "really special" about the entire process of receiving the award last night was “the first touchpoint, from Sir Peter Blake Trust – it's like talking to an old friend".

"They make you feel like you're part of a whānau and that was, to me, a very different space for an awards event," she told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

She said she decided to mentor budding fashion designers despite its notoriously cutthroat industry because "in order for the world to change, we have to change our mindsets".

"They need to change - especially in the fashion industry and industries like that, where they’re quite silo.

"We need to change to sharing and collaboration – and genuine sharing and collaboration, not just saying things to sell things or so forth – so it was really important for me that emerging designers didn't have to go through what I went through because there’s no point. There's no reason for it."

Ms Allen said she has "a huge amount of respect for [Beyonce and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern] and what they do and how they're changing the world."

She added, however, that it is "just as important" for her to see people who aren't famous "connect to, say, a pounamu or a piece of clothing".

"People are people to me, regardless of what their status is."