Makeda Soper-Wirangi (Whakatohea / Tainui) has gone from shopping aisles to strutting the catwalks of New York.
Today, Makeda gives her first New Zealand interview to Māori Television.
The 20-year-old, who moved with her family to Melbourne two years ago, was spotted by a model agent at a shopping centre where she worked.
"I noticed him staring at me and I was like, what are you up to, stalker guy,” says Makeda.
Makeda had caught the eye of model agent Phoenix Michael Darley.
"When I turned I just saw these amazing cheekbones. She just had this incredible facial structure. And also I couldn’t really work out her nationality,” says Darley.
“I thought maybe sort of Eurasian and when I asked her and she said she was Māori I clicked and I went yeah definitely. She just has that real unique edge to her so that’s what made me stop and say, “Would you like to be a model?"
Two weeks later she was on her way to New York Fashion Week under her new model name, ‘Keda’. Her edgy look is now gaining attention from agencies in Europe.
Makeda and her mum Donna talked candidly about her life-changing opportunity to Māori Television’s Australian correspondent Matai Smith.
Watch the full story on Native Affairs next Tuesday at 8pm.