Tina Waru (Founder Indigenous Fashion Unearthed Project)

What an accomplishment, three years on and we are still going strong. The Indigenous Runway Project emerged from one makeup workshop and today it has created pathways and platforms in the fashion industry for Aboriginal people and now global Indigenous communities. 

Since its inception the Project has grown tremendously, initially set up for 15 has now had over 400 Indigenous people access the project with 90% from Aboriginal communities in Victoria, Northern Territory, Alice Springs, NSW, SA to WA.  The Indigenous Runway Project has now been asked to travel to various communities all over Australia, New Zealand and Arizona and help set up the Indigenous Runway Project in their respective communities


I am a young mum of three boys and would love the opportunity to not only make them proud but myself and my family and I believe I have the ability to.

I’m a young aboriginal girl from Yorta Yorta Cummeragunja. About 2 years from now I lost my precious mother, its been hard for me to follow my dreams ever since she left me. I’ve been interested in modelling since I was 16. People always told me ‘u should be a model’ but i never had the confidence in myself, but now over the years my confidence has build up and to do modelling would be a dream come true for me! Modeling is a dream and career i wanna do for the rest of my life, chase my dream and fulfil my modelling career! i wanna make my mum proud (: 

As proud Aboriginal women, I thought I was going through life by myself, not letting anyone in and sticking to myself. Since my time on the Project I have realised that it has allowed me to come out of my shell and really feel valued for the person I am and also for the person that I can become. The program has also introduced me to a whole new set of brothers and sisters and they’ve become like my other family.

The Indigenous Runway Project has opened its doors and welcomed me in like one of their own. Meeting new people and working alongside other indigenous people has given me a chance to embrace their cultures and, recognising that although we are different, coming to terms with the number of similar cultural beliefs we share.

The project has made me into the confident person that I am now. Without their mothering and support I wouldn’t have been able to reach this level of self-belief. All of their time and effort they have put into making us believe that we really are models has been outstanding and I have been blown away with the help and love we all share together as a group.

To see the end goal and have so much faith and hope in our people is overwhelming. For you to see something in me, and want me to be a part of the team has been absolutely fantastic and mind-blowing for me.

The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Week was a once in a lifetime event. On the day I became very emotional thinking about my old Pop and all of my family and these thoughts quickly turned into energy. Walking the runway in front of so many anonymous people was daunting although when it was finished it was one of the best things I have ever done!

This was my first runway experience and as much as I was shaking in my heels, I was excited! It was an amazing life experience that I’ll never forget and it’s thanks to the Project for giving me this amazing opportunity.

I’m from Echuca, which is a small country town; here we have a rich aboriginal history and proud aboriginal community. Since getting on board it’s given me great pleasure being looked at as a role-model for the younger community.  This has also given me a great pleasure to be a part of creating a pathway for our next generation to also be able to embrace the fashion industry by showcasing our culture and what we, as aboriginal people, have to offer.

Working with the Indigenous Runway Project was an amazing experience for me. The team work , on and behind the stage was so much fun! We all did an incredible job in the project and accomplished a great deal. Looking forward to the next indigenous unearth runway project!

“The opportunity to be a part of the Indigenous Runway Project was an exciting journey! I learnt so much about other indigenous cultures, the beauty that lies within each; and I grew personally as an individual. It was incredibly humbling to know that when I stood at the end of the runway I represented the history and future of my Maori heritage, and all indigenous people. It is thanks to the project that I owe my endless gratitude for allowing me to be a part of this, and for making my dream of modelling internationally a dream come true.”

“In preparation for the event the Indigenous team worked alongside international runway models in order to teach models the latest catwalk trends. This valuable insight was shared with me after I was given constructive feedback on my walk. The calibre of skill that some industry models possess is huge, so having this up-to-date knowledge was extremely helpful. It is reassuring to know that I can boldly walk alongside them, and I now feel empowered that I am putting my best foot forward when I walk the runway. Off the runway, my self-esteem has risen and I feel more confident when dealing with others in all areas of my life. I have stronger cultural pride, and an eagerness to inspire others to believe in themselves.”

“The opportunity to be part of the Indigenous Runway Project has definitely been the highlight of my life so far. Walking down that runway has only ever been something i have ever dreamed about and to make my dream reality was beyond amazing. None of it could have been done with out the Tina and the crew. The journey that I’ve had with the Indigenous Runway Project has been amazing and it’s only just the start.”


My experience from the Indigenous Runway Project

Well done Tina Waru you are an inspiration to us all, I enjoy and appreciate the efforts that go on behind the fashion world scene your demonstration of organizational and Conviction was impeccable.

I admire your desire and love of fashion, Art and all in between.

It was such a great privilege to meet you in person Tina, to see the Lovely Lady with a big Heart willing to give our Indigenous people here in Australia and Global Indigenous people, a platform for Fashion and willing to share and teach the young and old all that is involved in this industry.

I found this Project a great place to Network with Designers, Models, the Media and also Public Figures. I have made some new acquaintances, partially with a couple of Designers, we are looking to collaborate together and have some Collections together. I now have my Neckties being sent international to a few major International Public Figures, also a Movie Actor has commissioned me to Design a Tie for the Red Carpet Premiere.

I would love to continue on this journey and be more involved in having my Art designs in Fashion, I have always envisioned my nail art designs on Runway Models, and being involved with the Project this was achieved.

One of my highlight I take from this experience was to see my collection of Indigenous Neckties in the Runway and for the world see my Art.

This was a great experience one that all our mob will share, it sets an example for those who are small town community artistes they too can achieved this and the Indigenous Runway Project is here to help them on their way.

 Most importantly my biggest highlight was when I sat down one on one with each Individual model painting their nails I was sharing our bush stories the meaning and language of each aboriginal art designs I painted.

They were so happy all of the models, and I felt privileged to connect them to Heritage, most beautiful experience I will cherish.

Showcasing my designs from my country is a privilege and meeting all walks of life has been great. This is my third time on the Indigenous Fashion Runway and to know that your collections are going to be showcased as part of elite fashion platforms like Loreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival is a designers dream. 

The connection I have made with other cultures has been amazing and I look forward to showcasing my collections on an international platform; it was merely a dream to share my designs with the world and thanks to the Indigenous Runway Project it has become a reality!

Not only do I design but I also run my own program in Tamworth/Moree NSW working with local Aboriginal youth; they travelled with me to be a part of the Indigenous Runway Project.  It has opened the doors for our young ones to advance from my local program on to the Project where they can gain the relevant industry skills.  It has been a pleasure for them as it has for me.


Production Crew

What an experience. The people, hair and makeup, clothing, lighting, hangers, steamers, shoes, props and all that goes into bringing this event together was nothing but amazing. Time management and organisation is what I take pride in, so this helped to alleviate some of the stress from others so that the show would run smoothly. What I enjoyed most was seeing so many different types of personalities, characters and individuals all working together, rushing, faces frowning, laughing, smiling and most of all knowing that the audience had no idea what was going on behind the scenes to what was being portrayed on the runway. The models, every single one of them were simply spectacular. It was great to see the pride and confidence in our young people. It was an honour and such a joy to see the end result and be a part of such a meticulous and beautiful event.