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Launch of Waha – The Maori Creative Agency

The Hon Tariana Turia
Maori Party Co-Leader | MP for Te Tai Hauauru
11am Friday 9 November 2012

Launch of Waha – The Maori Creative Agency
Betty’s Function House
32 Blair Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Tena koutou katoa

I want to mihi to your director; Tuteri Rangihaeata; his partner Rohario Jacobs; Julian Wilcox your masterful MC; and the members of Patea Māori Club – Aotea Utanganui for the opportunity to share with you today, such an auspicious opening.

From the moment we link into the Waha Website there is an overwhelming sense of passion and of pride that will distinguish your entry into the market as the Māori Creative Agency.

The website is entitled “Beautiful Māori – let our culture move you”.

There could be no better representation of the beauty and the power of our culture than in the very name you have chosen for yourself.

At its most common interpretation, waha describes our mouth – the songs released in our voice; the words we dare to utter.

But it can also represent – as in waharoa - a gateway; an entrance to an entire new world awaiting us. We might also think of waha as a stage in our journey; te wahanga meaning a particular chapter in our life; a place and space for learning.

One meaning I am particularly fond of is the use of waha to describe the ways in which our nannies would carry us around – piggybacked, wrapped within their blankets; keeping us snug and close; protecting us from harm while at the same time exposing us to all the elements of the word.

This is just a few of the 100 or so interpretations of waha we can find amongst the wisdom in the Ngata Dictionary. It all serves to crystallise and emphasize the concept of waha, associated with the essence of communication and perfectly appropriate for a business in marketing and the art of persuasion.

As we all know it is the ‘gift of the gab’ that captures the essence of communications these days - and our ‘waha’ or mouths are an important part of that. I understand that this is one description that fits Tuteri-balanced by the quiet determination of Rohario!

This is an industry which is based on two way relationships. It is our ability to build respectful relationships, reciprocal relationships and to tell stories that connect to others which will be a valuable resource for your company.

I have always thought that we need more Maori to be a part of developing the stories and messages that are promoted here in Aotearoa – to tell our stories; to relearn our history.

And I have to think your timing was absolutely appropriate – to be giving birth to this new business on the very day that one of our greatest leaders and entrepreneurs was born many years ago.

I am talking about Te Kirihaehae Te Puea Herangi, born at Whatiwhatihoe near Pirongia, on 9 November 1883. Te Puea played a crucial role in re-establishing the King Movement as a central force amongst her people. But it was in her commitment to planting hope that she will most be remembered for.

There are countless achievements that Te Puea pursued; in her absolute commitment to excellence; to innovation and to the future of her people.

Deciding to launch Waha on this day is therefore an act of great purpose – which focuses on the unlimited potential that we have as tangata whenua to do wonderful things. It is a step forward, tracking over the footprints of Te Puea, while creating your own unique signature.

It also reminds me of the freedom that comes with being self-determining, setting our own course of direction; whether we are self-employed or a part of a business.

It is hard work, but it is so much more rewarding to know that you have been the architect of your own success.

As we know now, entrepreneurship is in our DNA. We descend from a long line of some of the greatest innovators, the most daring of adventurers. Our tupuna were early adopters of many things and sailed the pacific building relationships and entering into sophisticated business negotiations abroad and at home.

These characteristics have been passed down generations, and I see evidence of that all over the place, particularly in our children. Some people may describe these characteristics for ‘haututu’, but what it is - is our children exploring the world, learning, and innovating.

And that is a brilliant attribute to foster in our whanau.

In order to run free and wild, our children need role models. They need to see success so that they know that their dreams and aspirations can be achieved. They need to know that being a ‘tutu’ is not a bad thing, but brings with it a special quality that should be loved and nurtured.

Our Maori Business explorers and entrepreneurs can be and must shape our future to best embrace our tamariki in ways which will enable them to experience multiple opportunities and endless possibilities.

I understand that Tuteri and Rohario you have young children – and I congratulate you for the legacy you are creating for them, and for doing it together as a whanau. Today is a celebration of the future, but also a celebration of what we can achieve as whanau – and in my mind that is a fine example of Whanau Ora. You are leading us into new frontiers; demonstrating the explicit value you place on our culture, our tikanga, our reo and our skills as unique to business, to tourism, to the economy.

It is said that if art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow their vision wherever it takes you.

What I have seen already through the branding and presentation of WAHA is that I have absolutely no doubt of the significant benefits that arise from the capacity to produce beautiful, valuable outcomes that are truly Māori specific.

There is an incredible diversity of organisations including marae, that could positively draw on the expertise of Māori marketing; Māori branding and Māori communications.

One of the things that the Maori Party has been focused on is supporting Maori businesses to flourish, both here in Aotearoa and in the international arena.

We have coined the phrase the ‘Maori edge’ to describe a point of difference and value-add proposition that we bring to the table by having a strong grounding in our culture. We have seen a mind-shift in this country.

Part of it relates to our own growing sense of self-esteem as whanau, hapu and iwi; and part of it relates to our maturity in business, and our venturing to new lands and seeing new horizons. It’s funny but true, that we had to venture to the other side of the world in back to learn of the value we have within ourselves, and to teach others around us of the strength that we have.

Now that we have dipped our toes in the international arena, we see that actually the Maori edge that we bring to business is like gold, it is a winner. This is wonderful, but the reason it is wonderful is because it means we can be ourselves in the corporate environment. We can be Maori and be successful.

Now when you look around you see that Maori business is a growing business. It brings to mind images of strength, resilience and unlimited potential. We are a new and emerging powerhouse in the economy. And we are getting acknowledgement for that from around the globe.

So I wish you well in your future work, and I congratulate you for the courage and fortitude it has taken you to get to this point. I look forward to seeing your business flourish, but most of all I am excited for your whanau and the world of difference that this venture could make for you all.

Tena koutou katoa


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