A candid interview with Maori model Tia Pirihi. - Ethical Made Easy

A candid interview with Maori model Tia Pirihi.

Every now and then a person pops up in your life that leaves you in awe of everything they do, say and represent. Tia Pirihi is one of those people. A couple of weeks prior to publishing this interview with Tia she came up in our newsfeed after giving us the most amazing shout out about our Black, Indigenous and People of Colour led fashion businesses article.

A candid interview with Maori model Tia Pirihi.

Written by Jasmine Mayhead.

Every now and then a person pops up in your life that leaves you in awe of everything they do, say and represent. Tia Pirihi is one of those people. A couple of weeks prior to publishing this interview with Tia she came up in our newsfeed after giving us the most amazing shout out about our Black, Indigenous and People of Colour led fashion businesses article.

We immediately fell in love with Tia and knew we had to share more about this intelligent, insightful Māori model with you. In this interview she speaks about her upbringing as a Māori person living in Australia, the advice she would give her 18-year-old self, and the work she’s doing for women’s reproductive rights.

Mover and shaker – Noun. A person who wields power and influence; “a shaker of traditional beliefs”.

A candid interview with Maori model Tia Pirihi.

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a Māori model and Women’s Reproductive Rights advocate. In recent times my focus has evolved into sharing my own personal journey with IVF through my modelling to highlight that women are beautiful at any size, any age and at any life stage. Based in Melbourne, my upbringing took place in Australia with strong ancestral ties to New Zealand.

How did you get into modelling?
I started as a Brand Ambassador for a well-known Australian company. The experience provided opportunities working with the media, campaigns and overseas events in LA, Singapore, Japan and throughout Australia. The feedback from these experiences pushed me to chase a long-held dream of modelling. I approached an Agent in Perth where I was living at the time and was signed.

What is it like being a Maori model living in Australia?
My Māori heritage is an important part of my identity. Each time I am booked for a job, get to travel or selected for a casting; I feel proud to step into these opportunities and represent my family and heritage. It is always in the back of my mind to lean into that responsibility, be brave and open new doors, which modelling has afforded me the opportunity to achieve.

You’re a strong advocate for young women and girls, why is this work so important to you?
Growing up in Australia, I grew up away from my culture with mixed race parents. Although there were many upsides to my upbringing, one of the cultural challenges I faced was that I did not have the role modelling of Māori women around me. Girls like me were not seen in the magazines or on the TV shows my friends and I watched. My mum growing up was the textbook definition of someone who knows how to hustle. Driven, direct and confident she instilled those attributes in me through her actions, but could not give those attributes the cultural context I required. For me it is important to be the reflection I did not see growing up. Representation is important and it is my way of supporting women and young girls to step into their own light.

What does a normal day look like for you?
Based in Melbourne we are currently in lockdown. So, lockdown life is a walk usually with my Bichon Casper and Toy Poodle Luna. Followed by working from home producing content, writing, planning and cooking.

What brings you the most joy?
Being home in New Zealand, battered mussels because we all know where I am going as soon as I land and Bold & the Beautiful. It is my favourite TV show and weekday escape from lockdown life and yes I am Team Steffy!

What are you reading, watching and listening to right now?
I’m reading “I can’t make this up – life lessons” by Kevin Hart. It’s hilarious and very poignant.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
I am inspired by women who serve their country by being in Politics. Over the years I have had the privilege of being at events that have been attended by women serving in Politics. For me, being in the same room, is about the person and the respect I have for their journey to hold office. I am in awe of their achievement. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are two of my current leadership inspirations.

What keeps you inspired? 
Legacy.

Is there anything that completely changed your life? (book, movie, holiday, person etc.)
One experience that has had an impact on values, was my time living in London. Due to circumstances I spent a year not seeing my family. My immediate family is small but close. The kind of close that usually results in up to three phone calls a day. One from mum, one from dad and one with both parents. The experience solidified for me how important it was to see my family and have them near me.

What do you wish you could tell your 18-year-old self?
Your ability to push the boundaries is your superpower. Just learn to use it for good and not getting kicked out of class.

What do you want your future self to remember about this moment? 
You are where you are meant to be.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A conversation I had with a great mentor who was also my former Agent. I brought up the topic of age and ageing in the modelling industry. My Agent then said to me “Is anyone asking your age?” I said “no.” Her response was delivered in the straight up manner I had become accustomed to, that was always mixed with the right amount of warmth and sincerity. She said “so, it’s not a problem then” and that was the end of that conversation. In other words, stop looking for a problem when there is no problem. To this day I still ask myself, am I looking for a problem that is not there or Houston do we really have a problem?

What advice would you give someone who wants to follow your career path?
A mentor is a great help. My suggestion would be to work with a mentor who has achieved what you aspire to do, has the skills required to coach and train and is currently working in the industry. This year I have been working with a mentor in New York to build on the practical skills required in modelling. The knowledge and skills gained from these mentoring sessions have been invaluable.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently writing a book sharing my IVF journey and exploration into Women’s Reproductive Rights.



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