Marle Woman: Manahou Mackay

Marle Women is created to celebrate our philosophy of designing pieces for women of all ages and stages of their lives. We hope each interview inspires you, the same way in which these women do to us.

Te Manahou Ahiataewa Mackay is an unstoppable force who radiates an innate sense of self and possesses qualities that make us believe she has been on this earth before. Her relentless positivity, sterling kindness and view on life is nothing short of inspiring, and her story is one to know and admire.

Growing up in a Maori family that rejected gender norms, Mana was encouraged to be as she wanted. With the unconditional support and love from her family and community, she decided to pursue a different path, and embrace a gender she felt wholeheartedly aligned with.

At just 21, she’s made herself a household name in the fashion industry, having been celebrated by some of the world's most acclaimed designers and publications. Here, we speak with Mana about her journey so far, how she approaches each day and the rituals that help her get more out of life.

Can you share a little bit about yourself, your background, and upbringing? What defining aspects have contributed to the woman you are today?

I am a Maori Human born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. My schooling life was through Maori units which I imagine and hear is very different from traditional education styles. It fostered a strong sense of community which imbued my primary developmental years with interconnectedness. My family have always rejected gender norms and allowed me to be as I wanted, from an early age I was “female” representing and when puberty was approaching I decided that I felt more aligned with traditionally feminine norms, which is when I transitioned. Transitioning so young requires a lot of therapy and introspection, taking on such self determination I believe made me more self aware.

At what point in your life did you realise you wanted to pursue a career in modelling?

I think really only a year and a half ago I decided that modelling was a part of my career I truly wanted to embrace to its fullest extent. Only really then did it become something that filled me with inspiration. 

The images you share on social media seem to celebrate your body confidently and beautifully. Is this a reflection of how you feel about your body? What has your body confidence journey been like?

Yes absolutely. I think we have shame culture when it comes to our bodies, which I do not understand. I believe pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is always a good thing, and becoming 100% okay with my body is a journey I’m glad I took. 

What’s the biggest misconception you find people have around being a model?

That it is a relaxed laissez-faire lifestyle. I believe to truly be successful and find joy in this industry and at life in general, you must cultivate a centred state of mind and approach each day with kindness. Taking good care of your mind, body and soul and bringing good energy into a space takes work. There are months when you have maybe 2 days off. 

"It’s of great importance to me to be wearing labels that are conscientious about sustainability as well as style. I love the calm and cosy sensuality of Marle fabrics and their consideration of our environment"

Manahou Mackay

How would you describe your personal style? Has it always been this way, or has it evolved over the years?

My style is always changing, I would consider myself a minimalist when it comes to colour palette but I love interesting and sensual silhouettes right now. 

How does a typical day begin? Do you have any non-negotiable morning rituals that set you up for a productive day ahead?

If I am attacking a personal day, I will have coffee in the morning and spend at least 45 minutes doing self care, skin care, make up, whatever I feel to really create an energy, space and attitude I want to approach the day with. I find I get more out of life when I take the time to just be.

Who are three people you look to for creative inspiration?

Rihanna, Audrey Hepburn, all of my friends, Myself

What is a piece of personal wisdom that you carry with you?

The things you think become the foundation for your life. To truly change your life you must change your mind.

What do you love most about Marle?

It’s of great importance to me to be wearing labels that are conscientious about sustainability as well as style. I love the calm and cosy sensuality of Marle fabrics and their consideration of our environment.


Most treasured accessory?

My skin

Texture or colour?


Summer or winter?

Rural summer, city winter


Mana wears the Selina Jacket, Felix Dress, Cait Cardigan, Ines Top, Varna Skirt and Lorca Top. Photographed by Kelly Geddes. Artwork is 'Obscura' by Annalisa Ferraris


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