A near-death experience has propelled Catherine August to great things.
In 2010, the Gisborne grandmother of 13 had a brain bleed and ended up under a team of Waikato neurosurgeons. It was thanks to years of experience while working in a rest home that she realised what was happening and got herself to the doctor, who admitted her to Gisborne Hospital.
“If I hadn’t listened to my body, I may not be here today,” she said.
It was that near tragedy that made her realise it was time to live life to the fullest and do something she had always wanted to do.
“I have always wanted to sew,” says the 51-year-old mother of three.
She also wanted to make korowai (a Māori cloak) just like her great grandparents, and she has melded those together to create her own unique style.
Catherine has just completed her first year as a fashion student and even had a piece accepted into the very prestigious Cult Couture Competition’s streetwear division where she was pitched against some of the nation’s best up-and-coming designers.
The piece featured peacock feathers and was called Ataahua – meaning beautiful.
“I am inspired by my Māori culture, and korowai are usually worn on special occasions with prestige and mana – that is what I wanted to portray with Ataahua.”
Catherine has loved her time studying the Certificate in Fashion Apparel at EIT Tairāwhiti.“The help we got from tutors has been great.”
She was the oldest by quite some years in the class, but that didn’t hold her back at all.
“We were a real team – age doesn’t mean anything really.”
Catherine now has her sights set on studying at Toihoukura, where she can further refine her fashion and art.
“Dreams do come true if you go after them,” she says.