A few months ago we were asked to be part of the creative development team of Global Indigenous Runway’s  ‘My spirit, my country’, an event held on Wadawurrung country as part of Melbourne Fashion Festival. Founder and Director Tina Waru and her team create a culturally diverse and safe platform for global indigenous creatives looking for entry into the Melboune Fashion Festival platform. 

Local Indigenous Creatives set the scene of the runway and drew us all in with their captivating aesthetic and performances while more than 40 Indigenous young people strutted their newfound confidence on the runway as they modelled with pride after a week training course run by the Global Indigenous team. An additional surprise was that for the first time a group of local mature aged Aboriginal models joined the First Nation models making up the largest contingency of First Nations models to model for any fashion festival.  We were asked to bring a Pacific flavour to ‘My spirit, My Country’. We were humbled, energetically charged and grateful calling apon all our mana (spiritual potency/strength) to represent through our performance.

Ke ēwe hānau
O ka ‘āina ~ The lineage born of the land

Ke ēwe hānau o ka ‘āina – Was the name of our performance piece. Bringing together Samoan, Tongan and Hawaiian reflections of our connection and vā (distance/space/relational space) to our country and spirit. 

I often say during our tours of Living Koko that “this koko was raised on the blood of our ancestors” and though many ears may hear those words, the deep meaning and feeling doesn’t always penetrate through.  These words are as literal as they are poetic.  As Samoans who grew up pounding beans freshly roasted on an open fire, with the grave stones of our loved ones next to the fronts doors of our homes – we know first hand the connection, the time and the alofa (love) that feeds into the kinships that connect us to our custodial lands.  Kinships with aiga (family) and nature.

O tatou tuaa o lo’o lagomau I tatou lau eleele, ua alai ona ola lau usiusi laufanua ma o lo’o soifua o latou agaga e le aunoa i totonu o tatou.  Our ancestors bodies nourish our lands and their spirits lives on within us.

For Living Koko to be blessed with an opportuntiy to support the creation of My spirit My country meant so much.  We approached Audrey Moala (Tonga) and Noelani Le Nevez (Hawaii) to join us as we activated a space that acknowledged the journeys of all our ancestors. A gentle reflection – reminding us all to ask the question “what kind of ancestor are you choosing to be?” as your motions now nourish the lands, people, surroundings and as your spirit will live on within them. 

For a moment we wanted to remove the day to day challenges and choose to connect body to spirit (movements to values) and spirit to country. (values to fanua country)

Soon after the event it was announced that GLOBAL INDIGENOUS CO WINS TWO GOLD AWARDS in NEW YORK.

GIR was crowned as a 2023 MUSE Creative Awards Gold Winner with the Event – Cultural Event Category and a Gold Winner in the Event – Other Event Category for our Global Indigenous Runway – My Spirit, My Country! Yes, that’s correct they won two categories and receive two gold MUSE Creative trophies. Winning a gold in the MUSE Creative Awards in New York, USA is the same as winning an OSCAR in the creative industries.
The top creatives and advertising industries are recognised in this international MUSE Awards Program, which was created by the International Awards Associate (IAA) in 2015. IAA’s inception was based on a mission to honor, promote and encourage creativity by providing a new standard of excellence for evaluating media design production and distribution.
We are so grateful to be trusted to activate with Global Indigenous and to bring our stories to life. As a Community Cultural Development Pract. being able to see first hand the incredible amount of work and time that goes into GIR it would be difficult to measure the social capital and ripple effect this event has on not only the audience but the young first time models and global indigenous community.  Tina and the team at GIR are so deserving of these awards and more.

Alofa atu, Global Indigenous Runway – appreciate your trust in us.

Facebook: MUSE Awards, Global Indigenous Runway
Instagram: MUSE Awards, @globalindigenousrunway, @tinawaru



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Living Koko acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are based on, Narrm (Melbourne); the Wurundjeri and neighbouring Boonwurrung Peoples of the Kulin Nation, Australia. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. Sovereignty was never ceded.

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