Unique Māori designed clothing: what are they, and what types are out there?

Contemporary Māori clothing has taken New Zealand by storm, and with their rise in popularity, you’ll never run out of unique designs, colours, fits, and styles to choose from. But, what is contemporary Māori clothing, and what types are out there? To help answer these questions, we’ve curated the most popular types of contemporary Māori clothing and put it all into one blog. Let’s explore!

What is contemporary Māori clothing?

Contemporary Māori clothing takes traditional Māori elements passed down from our ancestors, and incorporates them with contemporary clothing trends (like t-shirts, dresses, hoodies, hoodies, and trackpants). Contemporary Māori clothing and their designs, usually depict an important aspect of Māori culture, and it’s this key element that can make for a very unique (and widely popular) piece of clothing. 

Types of Māori clothing: The most popular

Māori designed t-shirts


Māori designed t-shirts are probably one of the most popular out there. These t-shirts are not only great for casual wear, but the designs adorning them are often unique and meaningful; most of which can’t be found anywhere else.

Example of unique Māori t-shirt designs: Mana Wahine and Mana Tāne t-shirts

A great example of unique Māori t-shirt designs are our Mana wahine and Mana Tāne t-shirts (shown above). We created the Mana Wahine t-shirt to symbolise the whare tangata- the house that women carry to grow and create life- and women’s part in the creation of life. The Mana Tāne t-shirt was made to represent the other side of this story; the seeds men carry that enable life to be created inside the whare tangata. Together, these t-shirts tell the story of life, and the important parts we play in the creation of it. The story of creation is considered sacred in Māori culture, and is an important symbol of mana (pride).

Need some help choosing the right Māori t-shirt? Be sure to check out our top 5 best Māori designed t-shirt 2024.

Māori designed dresses 


Māori designed dresses are another type of kākahu (clothing) that is making a name for itself. Designs for these dresses are not only beautiful and meaningful, but functional as well. Māori designed dresses are great for all sorts of occasions, like date nights, dinner parties, beach-side vacations, and so much more!  

Examples of a popular Māori designed dress: Wairere dress

Our Wairere dress is a great example of a Māori designed dress that adds personality and meaning while still being functional. Wairere means flowing water or waterfall, which was the inspiration behind how we designed our Wairere dress. The shape of the dress and how it falls, reflects that of flowing water, which flows from the top of the dress to the bottom (like a waterfall). At the same time, the dress is light, breathable, and was made to fit all different shapes and sizes.

Looking for some more Māori designed dresses to wear this summer? Take a look at our best Māori dresses to wear this summer 2023!

Māori designed hoodies and trackpants

Hoodies and trackpants have risen in popularity over the past couple of years, and it’s easy to see why! Hoodies and trackpants are trendy and casual, yet comfy and functional, and by adding their own unique twist to it, Māori clothing designers were able to hop on this trend (with amazing results!).

Examples of popular Māori designed hoodies and trackpants: Te Pae o te Rangi 

Here at Nōku our Te Pae o te Rangi design is a very popular choice for many. Te Pae o te Rangi represents the horizon, and how it was created through the separation of Ranginui (Sky Father), and Papatūānuku (Mother Earth). The word ‘Nōku’ was placed at the center to represent you (the wearer) and your journey. The design above you represents all that you are striving for, and the design below you represents the hard, unseen work that is necessary to get you where you need to be. These tracksuit designs are unisex, and can be brought as a pair (both top and bottom) or individually. You can also choose between a crew or a hoodie, which helps give people a little bit more freedom to choose based on their style and preferences.

Special mentions

  • Children’s clothing: From bodysuits and wraps, to t-shirts and tracksuits, you’ll always find something for you little ones no matter what age!
    • jumpsuits: Another extremely popular choice of kākahu! There are usually two types: jumpsuit Pants and and jumpsuit shorts.
    • jackets and dress shirts: Functional and versatility, these jackets and dress shirts are a great addition to any outfit!

    To learn more about Contemporary Māori clothing and what we offer, visit our Noku shop online.


    There is always so much more to learn about the world of contemporary Māori clothing, but knowing what they are and what types are out there is a great place to start. If you want to learn more about contemporary Māori clothing and why it’s become so popular, read all about it here.