Toi Ohomai Supporting Success of Ngāti Whakaue Businesses

Taurua Grant, Tatiana Kiwi-Knight, Kimberly Rangiahua, Bart Vosse and Liesl van der Mescht

Wednesday, 27 Jul 2022

Supporting the future success of Ngāti Whakaue-owned businesses (pakihi) and the local Rotorua economy is the driver behind a business development programme between Ngāti Whakaue Assets Trust, Toi Ohomai and RotoruaNZ. 

Ringa Rautia is a 10-week programme to help strengthen and grow Ngāti Whakaue-owned businesses. Ringa Rautia came about after Ngāti Whakaue Assets Trust, which had identified a significant gap in support for startups, approached Toi Ohomai and RotoruaNZ with a solution. 

The programme is being spearheaded by Ngāti Whakaue Assets Trust Distributions Manager Tatiana Kiwi-Knight, Toi Ohomai Business Tutor Kimberly Rangiahua and Academic Lead Liesl van der Mescht, and Regional Growth Advisor and entrepreneur Linda Bradbrook. 

In 2019 Ngāti Whakaue Assets Trust made a strategic shift in its distribution portfolio from a cash grants model to standing up initiatives for its iwi. 

Ngāti Whakaue Assets Trust CEO Taurua Grant says when an initiative is designed, it is important to first engage with iwi to understand what the needs are. 

“We establish what role the Trust can play to support those needs, with consideration to what existing initiatives are out there so that we aren’t duplicating unnecessarily. 

“Our pakihi were identified as a priority area because of the positive flow on effect of strong Ngāti Whakaue-owned business for the social and economic wellbeing of the iwi.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic was, in some ways, a catalyst for many entrepreneurs across the country to go out and start a business. This was witnessed in Rotorua as well. 

Linda and Tatiana, who have both worked in the business support space, developed the concept of a 10-week programme that offers group sessions focused on different areas of business, with additional weekly one-on-one sessions with a dedicated business coach. Those who complete the full programme also have an opportunity to apply for a contestable $5000 grant. 

Toi Ohomai was a natural fit to deliver the workshops and tutor Kimberly says she jumped at the chance to educate the community through an iwi-led initiative. 

“On a personal level, I’ve seen whānau running their own businesses, but I’ve also seen them struggle as they didn’t have the skill set to navigate some aspects of the business world. This is what we want to combat,” Kimberly says.  

“We want to ensure the success of these whānau and their businesses and we have put together a team of tutors who are experts in their field, who can offer tools to help these businesses go further.” 

Topics covered by Toi Ohomai tutors will include strategic planning, sales, tax, legalities, building a team and attracting investment. 

Toi Ohomai Faculty Dean Bart Vosse says the partnership is a great example of collaboration to ensure future success. 

“Toi Ohomai is committed to our rohe and aims to find ways to best serve our communities. This opportunity means we can offer knowledge and tools to upskill those in small businesses. 

“Rotorua is full of innovative and creative entrepreneurs, and we want to enable them to succeed. Success to them may be on a local, national or global scale and we want to help facilitate that.” 

Bart says enabling small businesses like these benefits not only them, their skills and confidence but also the wider community. 

RotoruaNZ Chief Executive Andrew Wilson says RotoruaNZ is supportive of this pilot initiative and the innovative ways that Ngāti Whakaue are wanting to engage and support Whakaue start-up businesses.  

“We hope that learnings through this approach can influence future programs focussed on driving innovation in our community.” 

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