Taaniko Nordstrom and Vienna Nordstrom are the co-founders and creative stylist/photographer duo behind Soldiers Rd Portraits, which was a concept first dreamed of in 2011.
Based in Cambridge, New Zealand, the two stylists dress customers in Maori, Pasifika, Native American and First Nations regalia for a memorable native inspired vintage portrait.
With a business that can pack down into two bags, the creative duo have taken their mahi on the road numerous times, not only here in Aotearoa, but also abroad all over Australia and even globally to USA, Europe and India!
Taaniko says their formula for success is simple,“Whakawhanaungatanga – we make a connection with every whānau we meet, and realising that through our portraits we have touched their lives for the better, is humbling. It’s also reassuring to know what we’re doing is of value to others.”
“Having had the opportunity to travel abroad with our original concept, we have definitely experienced first hand the uniqueness and beauty of our Maori culture on the world stage. We enjoy having a business that promotes and celebrates our culture. The portraits we take are a beautiful and positive portrayal of people, specifically Maori, and we’ve seen, heard and felt people’s reactions. They feel a sense of pride in themselves, and in some ways, they feel closer to their tupuna.”
In 2016 Taaniko and Vienna started their social initiative ‘Behind the Wire- Rangatahi ki Rangatira’, an initiative aimed at creating meaningful connections with cultural identity and whakapapa through portraiture for tāngata mauhere- our population of Māori who are currently incarcerated. Their hopes were that through their unique photography experience, they could highlight or remind the participants of the connection that every Māori has to their lineage, and encourage them to reclaim their Mana through seeing the visual representation of themselves in the likeness of their tupuna.
The pilot was completed in June 2016, with a group of 30 men from Te Ao Marama Maori Focus unit at Waikeria Prison in the Waikato, and Taaniko and Vienna have since returned multiple times and have photographed over 70 participants.
Follow Taaniko and Vienna and their journey with Soldiers Rd Portraits at soldiersrd.nz, on Instagram @soldiersrd, or ‘Like’ them on Facebook.