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Matariki X: Environmental innovation and iwi investment

MEDIA RELEASE

CALLAGHAN INNOVATION

01 August 2019

Environmental innovation and improving iwi investment a focus for
Māori innovators and entrepreneurs at Matariki X

More than 250 businesses leaders, iwi, rangatahi and representatives came together at the two-day business event Matariki X, held in Rotorua on Friday, and it was clear some key areas of focus are emerging for the Māori economy.

This was the third time Callaghan Innovation has held Matariki X and this year’s event included a series of masterclasses with practical advice and insights on critical business competencies, such as how to raise capital, how to establish an export model and channels, and demystifying data.

“After two huge Matariki X events over the last three years, we wanted to ensure that as well as inspiring our attendees, we were arming them with valuable, practical information and ‘next steps’ for their business,” says Vincent Campbell, acting manager of Callaghan Innovation’s Māori Economy Group. “Knowing the basics of things like raising capital, or how to start exporting, can make all the difference between a business succeeding or giving up.”

“By far our most popular masterclasses were environmental innovation and improving iwi investment practices. To me that says as Māori we are starting to understand where we want to make an impact and how we need to improve. Iwi in particular play a key role in supporting more Māori tech businesses and preparing rangatahi for the future.”

Headline speakers at the sold-out event in the Rotorua Energy Events Centre included Bailey Mackey from Pango Productions, Rachel Taulelei from Kono, Jesse Armstrong from Vaka Interactiv, Nikora Ngaropo of Nikora Ngaropo Motion & Design and Miriana Stephens from Wakatū Incorporation and NUKU ki te Puku.

The common thread among the speakers, who included the leaders of Kiwi startups and established global businesses and spanned a range of industries, was that Te Ao Māori (the Māori worldview) is an asset in today’s business world.

Rachel Taulelei, CEO of Food & Beverage company Kono which employs over 400 staff, says “Te Ao Māori is a real strength, a real grounding”.

“One of the questions my colleague Miriana Stephens asks us to think about is: are we being good ancestors? I think that is super profound. When our children look back, will they think ‘they looked out for us’ or will they think that we oversaw a real slash and burn period in our history. If we look back at ancestors, the way that they interacted with the land, was a very regenerative relationship with the whenua and moana.”

“In terms of where we should focus our energy to ensure a successful future, science and R&D is exceptionally important. Focusing on nutrition and wellness is super important. But, in the end, if we're not caring for our whenua and our moana, all of it is completely lost.”

Campbell, Acting Manager of Callaghan Innovation’s Māori Economy Group, says the resounding message of the day was that there’s never been a better time to be Māori.

“Māori have always been very innovative, although our unique framework hasn’t always aligned to corporate success frameworks. But our unique Māori worldview – our generational approach to people and the environment – is becoming a competitive advantage here in New Zealand and globally.”

Bailey Mackey, CEO of Māori-owned television production company Pango Productions, echoed this sentiment saying “it’s our time on the world stage. I’m incredibly optimistic about our future, both in a storytelling context here in Aotearoa, but also internationally.”

As New Zealand’s innovation agency, Callaghan Innovation has a remit of working with highly innovative, technologically complex and commercially savvy businesses. It now works with over 115 Māori businesses that have met these standards, and there are more in the pipeline. Many of these are moving into its ‘high-growth’ portfolio with global reach, but Mr Campbell says there is much greater potential to tap into.

ENDS

Matariki X Inspire speakers:
• Billie Jo Ropiha - Founder, B'DET – environmentally friendly personal hygiene
• Bailey Mackey - CEO, Pango Productions – content changing perspectives about Maori
• Rachel Taulelei - CEO, Kono NZ – NZ food & drinks firm exporting to over 25 countries
• Jesse Armstrong - Founder and CEO, Vaka Interactiv –interactive media experiences
• Nikora Ngaropo - CEO and Founder of Nikora Ngaropo Motion & Design | Young Animators
• Miriana Stephens - Director, Wakatū Incorporation and Founder, NUKU ki te Puku

Panel: 'A Courageous Conversation' of business thought-leaders:
Takurua (Tak) Mutu, Ngapera Riley, Shay Wright, Mel Gollan, Nikora Ngaropo, Jesse Armstrong, Miriana Stephens, and Hemi Rolleston.

Matariki X Masterclasses
• Separation processes for natural products
• Doblin’s 10 Types of Innovation
• Crowdfunding options for business growth and development
• Investment – building an investment ready company
• Start-up to sustainability
• Environmental innovation
• Social impact
• Building a global business with NZTE
• Sound iwi investment practices and processes: Getting the basics right
• Introduction to innovation mindsets
• Demystifying data – how to make it work for you

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