Tina Waru is an Indigenous Māori woman from the Taranaki, Ngāti Kurī and Ngā Puhi tribes of New Zealand living in Melbourne Australia. Having left school at 14, she worked in a factory sewing sportswear and later trained as a makeup artist before beginning her studies under the New Start program at the University of Auckland successfully completing Postgraduate studies in Psychology, Tina worked in the mental health and education sectors in both New Zealand and Australia for 20 years.
Tina managed the Indigenous portfolio at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, followed by the Manager of Indigenous Health & Policies at the Rural Workforce Agency. From there Tina developed an interest in education and worked for the Inner Melbourne VET Cluster for 5 years establishing their Indigenous sector. Throughout Tina’s career she has been a key contributor toward the development of health and education initiatives for Australian Aboriginal communities.
In 2015 Tina received the Australian of the Day Award for Victoria and nominated for the 2017 Pride of Australia medal.
The Indigenous Runway Project & Global Indigenous Management
In 2010 Tina founded the Indigenous Runway Project in Australia, which has now gained national and international recognition and received over 6000 expressions of interest. Since then she has taken the initiative to other Indigenous communities New Zealand and Canada and was instrumental in the establishment of international sister organsations in these countries.
Today the Indigenous Runway Project initiative continues to provide a mentoring model that responds to community needs and develops leadership capacity providing structured support to help Indigenous youth from around the world define their own careers in the fashion industry. The initiative has been nominated for the 2014 and 2016 National Australian Reconciliation Award and Best Practice for the Aboriginal Education Strategy Garrin Garrin, a strategy introduced to improve learning and development outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians.
Tina has gone on to pioneer the worlds first Global Indigenous Management for global Indigenous fashion, design services and events. She continues to provide a platform to empower and educate youth on a global scale.