Photo source: Estelle Halford, Facebook
A specially selected group of Māori students from universities around Aotearoa are in Japan this week to connect with indigenous business as part of the Te Hononga-ā-Kiwa programme.
Each was selected for their passion in business, te reo Māori and the development of indigenous cultures around the world.
The students include Jack Potaka and Tauawhi Bonilla from the University of Auckland; Maui Brennan from the University of Canterbury; Estelle Halford from Auckland University of Technology; Kelsey Kauri and Ana Kirk from Massey University; Luke Moss and Donnella Ngohe from the University of Waikato and Denise Doctor, Kiriana Hirawani-McTaggart and Thomas Perfect from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
Waikato University students Moss and Ngohe each own their own clothing businesses.
Moss, of Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Rora, owns Kultured.
“It’s to promote reo Māori on a daily basis and just make people feel comfortable about their own culture and embrace who they are."
Ngohe, of Ngāti Haua and Ngāti Maniapoto, owns Tiare.
“It’s a representation of my father who passed away a couple of years ago," she says.
"With my own struggles as well with mental health I wanted to create a platform where we could normalise mental health and regulate our kōrero, hence the reason why I've named it Tiare which is Charlie in English and diamond is everyone else out there struggling."
Throughout the trip, the students will connect with Ainu business leaders and owners.
Donella Ngohe says she wants to, “grab all the mātauranga over there that I can, bring it back to our rangatahi and then [let them] know that they can follow the same pathway as what we are doing right now."
Moss says it's important for young Māori to be connected with other indigenous cultures “to see that as Māori we have struggles, as the Ainu people in Japan they have struggles but it's not until we come together that we will find success in an indigenous world."
Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makaurau student Estelle Halford, Ngāti Paoa, Ngāi Te Rangi, owns Reo Way Clothing and has already started exporting her brand to Japan.
"I was approached by a Japanese and Māori couple who expressed interest in selling Reo Way products in Japan… and it’s been booming," she says.
For these students, it’s not so much about making money, but more about fulfilling their purpose in business.
Ngohe says she was surprised when she found out her application for the trip was accepted.
"When I got the message I was like, 'Are you sure this is for me? Have I got the right email?' As soon as I found out I went straight to my dad and thanked him and before we came up to Tāmaki Makaurau I went and visited him and I said, 'Look, dad, This is us. We're going to do it. We're going to normalise mental health'."
The 10-day trip will also include a visit to the New Zealand Embassy and the Tuku Iho Exhibition.
Te Hononga-ā-Kiwa Programme delegation of students to Japan:
Jack Potaka Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws, University of Auckland
Tauawhi Bonilla Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws, University of Auckland
Maui Brennan Bachelor of Commerce, University of Canterbury
Denise Doctor Bachelor of Applied Management, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
Estelle Halford Bachelor of Business, Auckland University of Technology
Kiriana Hirawani-McTaggart Bachelor of Applied Management, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
Kelsey Kauri Bachelor of Science - Human Nutrition, Massey University
Ana Kirk Bachechor of Arts, Massey University
Luke Moss Masters of Māori and Pacific Development, University of Waikato
Donnella Ngohe Bachelor Arts and Social Science Double Major in Psych and Screen and Media, University of Waikato
Thomas Perfect Bachelor of Applied Management - Accounting, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology