Cruze Kapa’s fascination with fashion started when he was a boy, watching his Tāua mend clothes.
“That was one of my first moments of fashion – I would watch my grandmother do repairs with a heavy sewing machine on the dining table.”
That eventually led him to study a National Certificate of Fashion Design at Christchurch’s Hagley Community College.
“That programme built me into a confident, passionate and determined fashion designer. I wanted to challenge myself, so my teacher recommended I go to Otago Polytechnic to study a Bachelor of Design in Fashion.”
So, the challenge began. Three years of studying, learning and creating.
My strength lies in my ability to visualise garments and create them. It was great that there was so much hands-on learning. That was balanced with academic work too, so we could learn the theory behind what we were doing.
Cruze is profoundly deaf but that’s not a problem for this passionate fashion designer
“I’ve always known that and I’m very happy with my hearing because I don’t have to hear every single time. However, I had wonderful support from my classmates, teachers and Support Services at Otago Polytechnic,” he says.
Cruze’s iwi are Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata & Ngāpuhi and he says Tikanga Māori is a key consideration at Otago Polytechnic.
They’re very respectful of all my cultures – deaf culture, Māori culture and hearing culture!”
Cruze is quick to recommend Otago Polytechnic’s Fashion programme.
“Last year, it was named in ‘Business of Fashion top 50 Fashion Schools’ in the world! There are so many opportunities for students … I went to Shanghai to present my fashion show, that’s the highlight of my life so far!” he says.
Cruze is now working in retail and developing his own fashion label, ‘Cruze’.
“Studying at Otago Polytechnic wasn’t just about academic achievement. It’s about learning how to manage myself and what guides me in a positive direction. It’s about life learning."