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Suzanne Tamaki lives in Newtown, Wellington with her cousin Ati Teepa. She is the creative events producer for Wellington City Council and one of the original Pacific Sisters.

Vivienne Haldane

Suzanne Tamaki lives in Newtown, Wellington with her cousin Ati Teepa. She is the creative events producer for Wellington City Council and one of the original Pacific Sisters.

SUZANNE: Everybody loves our bathroom, they come to the house and they just want to go. I said to my friend, we should have a party and launch the bathroom, since it’s been redone (our house is really old and the bathroom used to be crusty). I do love the idea of having a bathroom party, we’d have platters of oysters and cocktails inside tiki cups.

I love all the flowers and everything, it reminds me of a wedding chapel in Vegas. I needed somewhere to put the columns and they wouldn’t fit anywhere else in the house. They’re plastic, from the $2 shop, but if anyone wants to borrow them, they are welcome. I dress up as Elvis and do impersonations and I have always wanted to do a show in our bathroom; we could do weddings in the bathroom. Elvis is in the toilet, which is where he died. It’s a tribute.

 'I wanted to look like a queen for the photo.'

Vivienne Haldane

‘I wanted to look like a queen for the photo.’

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We had an exhibition when I was working at Te Papa which had the most incredible wedding dresses in it and it was the theme for our Christmas party. I was the MC and went as Elvis and it was such fun, I thought I want to keep doing that. I have been doing Elvis impersonations for six years.

 Suzanne repurposes and upcycles old items to turn them into jewelry.

Vivienne Haldane

Suzanne repurposes and upcycles old items to turn them into jewelry.

Inside the birdcage are two little bird people. I get dolls and take their heads off and put birds’ skulls on them. I have little bird people all around the house. There’s two of them in there with their pet weta. They don’t have names, but I might let my granddaughter go round and give them all names. She’s good at names.

I am just about to send off a bag of jewellery to the Auckland Art Gallery because the Pacific Sisters show is there and my jewellery has been selling out; it’s crazy. I use flowers and recycled objects, organic material like bone and feathers, random things like plastic spoons, curtain hooks, belt buckles and door handles.

I wanted to look like a queen for the photo. It’s my bathroom, I can do that. My necklace is made from plastic forks with a bird’s breastplate in the middle; I like them, they look like little taniwha skulls. You give them a wash and leave them out in the sun and they bleach themselves.

Pacific Sisters: He Toa Tāera | Fashion Activists is on at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki until July 14.

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