Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Dan Ahwa: A creative force shaping fashion and storytelling

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Hanalei Foliaki | Reporter/Director

With a career spanning over 17 years, Dan Ahwa has masterfully blended his talents as a journalist and stylist to create a unique and influential mark on the industry.

Ahwa’s journey began on an unconventional path. 

“I studied media studies, film, art history; all the things our parents advised us not to study,” he laughs. 

This educational curiosity ignited his interest in the creative industries, leading him to become a visionary journalist and stylist who has consistently pushed boundaries.

As the Fashion and creative director of Viva and Canvas Magazine, published by NZ Herald, Ahwa has curated a diverse portfolio that encompasses print, digital, social campaigns, commercials, editorials, and even music videos. 

(L-R) Frankie Adams for VIVA + House of Iman for VIVA. Photos: VIVA.

But, Ahwa is more than just a stylist; he’s a storyteller at heart. 

“You can’t be a one-trick pony these days, especially in media. You have to be open to learning about other areas,” he says. 

He recognises the power of storytelling early on, particularly in the context of his Pasifika heritage. 

“As Pasifika people, we are original storytellers. Being able to bring that into this space is really important,” he says.

Ahwa’s commitment to representation is deeply rooted in his identity. He recalls the early days of his career, when Pasifika representation in the industry was sparse. 

Photo: Tagata Pasifika.

“When I first started, there was hardly any Pasifika people in the industry,” he says. 

Acknowledging the significance of his heritage, Ahwa says, “representation, especially of my heritage and our Pasifika people, really, really matters in everything that we do.”

With an unwavering dedication, Ahwa has become a beacon of creativity. His meticulous approach to styling, the importance of collaboration, and the need for meaningful connections are evident in his work. 

“Styling for a photoshoot is 90% admin and 10% on the day,” he says. 

As a true trailblazer, Ahwa’s legacy is driven to inspire generations. He envisions exploring the art space in Aotearoa, celebrating the creativity of Pasifika and Indigenous artists who are shaping their identities. 

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