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Maori business leaders recognised in UoA Awards

07 May 2018

Heading the internationally recognised Whale Watch Kaikōura, creating an online Māori warrior wahine to harness the power of gaming, and developing a financial literacy tool used by tens of thousands of students are just some of the local smarts that have been recognised among the winners of this year’s University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards.

Auckland Business School Māori and Pacific Associate Dean and Associate Professor Carla Houkamau says that latest estimates put the Māori economy at $50billion, with iwi assets at $7.8billion.

“These awards not only raise awareness of some of the many Māori business successes, they also help inspire our own tauira (students) to take their place in a growing economy grounded in Māori world views,” she says.

Outstanding Māori Business Leader Award: Kauahi Ngapora, Whale Watch Kaikōura GM – Recovery and beyond

Kauahi Ngapora (Ngāi Tahu, Waikato-Tainui) started out at Whale Watch Kaikōura as a caregiver (aka sea sickness bucket emptier) at age 15.

In the top job since 2009, he has steered the internationally renowned organisation through one of tourism’s most turbulent times – with ongoing repercussions of the global financial crisis exacerbated by the Christchurch earthquakes.

The Kaikōura 2016 earthquake halted operations until late 2017.

“What drives me is my whānau and their future, the people around me and honouring the legacy of the founders of Whale Watch, and contributing to Tino Rangatiratanga for Māori.”

Māori Entrepreneurial Leader Award: Maruhaeremuri Nihoniho MNZM, Metia Interactive 

Maru Nihoniho (Ngāti Porou, Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāi Tahu) harnesses the power of gaming for education and mental health.

She is behind Metia Interactive, an award-winning game development studio in Tāmaki Makaurau with the tagline “making serious fun”.

Her focus is on creating meaningful entertaining games incorporating Māori themes including te reo.

“The goal is to encourage rangatahi into technology-based study at tertiary level.

“They are growing up using these technologies and they should understand or know how to make content for them in the least. At best, they will be the future content creators and technologists.”

Young Māori Business Leader Award: Banqer CEO Kendall Flutey

On the basis that “when it comes to money, knowledge is power”, Kendall Flutey (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu) created simulated online banking platform Banqer.

Partnering with Kiwibank, the platform teaches concepts of saving, investing, borrowing and purchasing by turning the classroom into a virtual economy.

Today it is used by more than 63,000 students in Australasia – 57,000 in Aotearoa – with expansion planned to US, Canada and Singapore.

A te reo version of the platform is being developed; input is welcome from anyone passionate about financial literacy in tamariki (children).

Māori Woman Business Leader Award: Rachel Taulelei MZNM, Kono CEO

Rachel Taulelei (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Koata) has championed Aotearoa as a producer of premium food and beverages for 20 years.

She’s CEO of Kono NZ, a family-owned producer that employs 400+ staff, farms 530 hectares of land and sea, and exports to over 25 countries.

Its brands include Tohu, Aronui, and Kono wines, Tutū cider, Kono mussels and Annie’s fruit bars.

“Shining a light on Māori women in business ensures we are visible to young wāhine, which makes it infinitely easier for young women and even young Māori men to identify themselves in future positions of leadership.”

Maōri Governance Leader Award: Whaimutu Dewes – For a new generation of leaders

In his many directorships, Whaimutu Dewes (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Rangitihi) has been instrumental in milestone developments in New Zealand constitutional law, particularly the recognition of Tiriti o Waitangi property rights and structures to realise the economic outcomes of those rights.

He has negotiated significant joint ventures in forestry, carbon sequestration, seafood harvest and global marketing.

His kaupapa is “growth of opportunity for the new generation(s) of leaders to realise the aspiration of our forebears – kia ora tonu ai te Iwi; tona ake reo; tona ake tikanga; moake tonu atu.”

Outstanding Māori Business Leadership Award: Iwi Collective Partnership 

The Iwi Collective Partnership is the largest collective of iwi Māori commercial fisheries interests.

Formed in 2010, it pools 16,000+ metric tonnes of fisheries resources owned by 15 iwi, allowing it to optimise returns and create economics of scale to better manage, protect and grow the pot for all members.

 Tairāwhiti Gisborne-based chairman Mark Ngata says the award acknowledges the need for collaboration and collectivisation of iwi as the only future of Maori in the fisheries sector.

“Ehara te ika noa iho, ko tatau a tatau tonu (It’s not just about the fish, it’s about us),” he says.

Full list of award recipients:

Outstanding Māori Business Leaders Award: Te Tohu Kairangi mō te Kaiārahi Pakihi Māori
Kauahi Ngapora (Whale Watch Kaikōura GM)

Young Māori Business Leader Award: Te Tohu mō te Kaiārahi Rangatahi Māori i ngā mahi Pakihi
Kendall Flutey (Banqer co-founder and CEO)

Māori Woman Business Leader Award: Te Tohu mō te Kaiārahi Wahine Māori i ngā mahi Pakihi
Rachel Taulelei (Kono CEO)

Māori Governance Award: Te Tohu mō te Kaiārahi Whakahaere Māori 
Whaimutu Dewes (Chairman of Moana New Zealand and Sealord Group, and a number of other governance roles)

Māori Entrepreneurial Leader Award: Te Tohu mō te Kaiārahi Rakahinonga Māori
Maruhaeremuri Nihoniho (Metia Interactive founder and MD)

Outstanding Māori Business Leadership Award (for organisations): Te Tohu Kairangi mō te Pakihi Māori Ihorei
Iwi Collective Partnership

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