New Business Platform helps Māori enter Tourism Industry

By Mare Haimona-Riki

After only 10 months, a new Māori business platform is looking to expand.

Named ‘Stay Native’, it empowers Māori to enter the lucrative tourism industry by offering to host travellers at their homes and marae.

Following the old proverb of “ka mate kainga tahi, ka ora kainga rua”, CEO Te Ara Armstrong (Ngāti Hine/Ngāti Wai) explained the origins of the business idea:

“We actually tried to put our house up as an 'airbnb' but it wasn’t very successful…. We then invited tourist to stay with us and our whānau…. We took them to our aunties and she would teach them to weave flax out of their garden and then we would take them to another aunty and she would teach them to make rewena bread”.

The Armstrong whanau went on to monetise this approach and build a website, offering others the opportunity to do the same.

The fast success of Stay Native has shown the whānau that their model could help other indigenous communities as well.  They are now seeking seed funding to improve the delivery of their services.

Armstrong said, “We’re talking with tourism organizations in Australia and Pacific Islands as well, to roll out the model to indigenous communities all around the world”.

Armstrong met with Lance Wiggs (Punakaiki Funding) to help perfect his pitch to potential investors.

Wiggs says that Māori have unique qualities that allow them give them an upper-hand in the business world. 

“What beautiful about this particular exercise with Māori businesses, is that everybody has a great story. It’s truly authentic, we have wonderful story tellers as well, it’s a natural thing that come out of Māori”.

Armstrong will be attending the “Te Kōmaru” business forum hosted by NZTE next month.