African Cook Islander Ernestina Bonsu Maro will grace the London Pacific Fashion catwalk next year – travel bans permitting – with a diverse line-up of models from all over the globe.
“This opportunity is a dream, not just for myself but for our Pacific and indigenous people, to showcase our unique beauty, shapes and sizes.
“I feel empowered and thank God for this blessing with this amazing platform to showcase and share our authentic beauty, and also pave the way for Pacific models to dream big.”
Maro’s modelling career started in 2017 with the Pacific Fusion Fashion Show in New Zealand. That same year, the 22-year-old went on to take part in the Miss Cook Islands pageant, representing her maternal home island of Pukapuka.
She graced the stage in Rarotonga and received the title of Maine Tapairu, and continued on to the Miss Pacific 2017 pageant representing the Cook Islands.
Her father is from a small town of Kumasi in Ghana, and she was raised in Mangere by her Pukapukan mother.
Maro is a middle child; she has an older sister Tinima and a younger brother Maro Bonsu Maro.
She is proud of her Pacific culture. “I can speak our beautiful and unique Pukapukan language, but I’m still learning, and my goal is to make it to the island and see the land of my ancestors.”
Maro has visited Rarotonga several times, to represent the nation in netball, for the opening of the Pukapuka hostel and other special occasions.
A graduate in communications, she is the producer for the Pacific Breakfast show on radio station 531PI, and she hosts the Pacific Media Network Cooks youth show which has always been a dream.
“I love serving, bringing out the invisible and hidden voices of our community, we have great stories within our people, and we are the generation to draw that out and celebrate the beauty of our indigenous face. “
She has always loved fashion, colour and arts and feels blessed to be connected to two cultures.
“I get to experience and share the power of both, my mother has always been a very creative person, her fearlessness and boldness has definitely been passed onto me.”
Energy feeds and influences her inspiration for fashion.
“Anyone has the potential and energy to make something out of nothing, fashion has no agenda in my eyes, it’s just you expressing yourself with art and I really admire and respect that.”
Last year, for the first time, she graced the catwalk for New Zealand Fashion Week, thanks to Adedoyin Folaranmi Okuleye the creative director behind Afrispec Global.
Maro says the experience was an opportunity for indigenous faces to shine and be proud, “Varu, Tav, Aue Designs and many more have paved the way for our people and I’m grateful to carry that torch onto the next generation.”
And how does she feel about the catwalk?
“I feel like there is a reason why you are where you are, and you always should fulfil those blessings and opportunities you are given.
“God is big and so is the world, the excitement is always a humbling feeling, because you know you are walking for your people that have helped you grind from the bottom, and now it is time to embrace our beauty to the world …”
With the uncertainty the world over because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Maro says the fashion show could be postponed to the following year.
“I feel it is time to rise, uplift and make the invisible visible.
“I would love to thank Ana Lavekau for the opportunity to share our beauty and story to the world, to everyone that has been part of my journey, to my family who have supported me in everything, I appreciate you all.
“For those that feel down or depressed, this is for you, you are worthy of reaching your goals and dreams, please stay passionate and trust in God.”
“Every day the motto I use is ‘Love and Light’ God blessed us all with gifts to share and empower to the world.”