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Accelerating the next generation of Māori start-ups

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Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is searching for future entrepreneurs and innovators to take part in Kōkiri – a Māori business accelerator programme. Applications for the next programme intake are open now.

Launched in 2018, Kōkiri is a joint programme between Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and Callaghan Innovation – New Zealand’s innovation agency. Ventures with tech-based products or services are invited to apply for the unique Māori business accelerator. Teams with bold ambitions to deliver not only profits but positive social, cultural, and environmental outcomes are sought after to disrupt the status quo locally, with the view to global scalability.

Aisha Ross – Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Kōkiri Director

“The Māori economy is thriving and diversifying at the same time. Right now, we’re seeing new technologies and digital tools disrupting traditional businesses and markets with Māori entrepreneurs making their mark in these emerging industries,”

says Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Kōkiri Director Aisha Ross

“We’re committed to accelerating the development of Māori-led ventures as we recognise entrepreneurship and innovation as a key enabler of whānau transformation in Aotearoa. We see Kōkiri as a significant driver behind high-growth, impact-positive ventures which contribute to the future success of the Māori economy,”

says Ross
Lee Timutimu is the founder and CEO of Arataki Systems

Kōkiri alumnus Lee Timutimu is the founder and CEO of Arataki Systems. Lee is joining the Kōkiri team on the road as they run a series of information sessions in December.

“We’re proud to be a Māori-owned tech company based in Tauranga. We started our business journey with Cultural Trails, a proximity-based story telling application. Through the Kōkiri programme we developed our business, increased founder capability and were able to expand across all of Aotearoa,”

says Timutimu.

Since completing the inaugural Kōkiri programme, Arataki Systems has gone on to launch four new products. The most recent product is new proximity booking app, Bookd. Lee’s experience in Aotearoa’s booming tourism industry led his team to create a new booking platform that allows small businesses with minimal marketing budgets to compete with larger operators. Keeping his local community in mind, Bookd also keeps tourism spend via online bookings in the local economy.

Ian Musson, Maori Business and Relationship Manager at Callaghan Innovation, says Kōkiri is built on a strong foundation of kaupapa Māori values – something that makes it distinctive as an accelerator programme globally.

Ian Musson, Maori Business and Relationship Manager at Callaghan Innovation

“Innovation is in our whakapapa and we are only starting to unlock the tech potential,” says Mr Musson. “Kōkiri has gone through incredible growth since first launching in 2018. It’s recently become the newest member of the exclusive GAN community and is developing a number of international investment and market-entry relationships. The programme continues to provide opportunities to Māori-led start-ups to develop high-value and high-impact venutures.”

Applications for Kōkiri close on Sunday 2 February 2020, when the selection panel will select up to 20 teams to participate in the two-day Selection Wānanga held in Hamilton on 21 – 22 February 2020.

The Selection Wānanga is a new addition to the accelerator as a demonstration of the Māori value – whakawhanaungatanga or relationship building. It will allow the invited teams to connect as a group, meet the programme management team and interact with the selection panel. A series of intense pakihi (business) and start-up workshops will be completed to put the ventures through their paces while the programme team and selection panel conduct interviews and observe each team working together.

The 2020 cohort will consist of up to 10 teams that will complete the intense 12-week residential accelerator programme before pitching their venture for investors and the wider business community in July 2020.

Kōkiri applications need to be submitted by a team where at least one founder must identify and have Māori whakapapa and their venture is :-

  • an early stage technology based start-up business;
  • impact positive having a focus on profitability, social, cultural, or environmental outcomes;
  • fully committed to and looking for market readiness, investment and growth.

Kōkiri 2020 is being officially launched on Thursday 5 December 5:30pm at Te Ahikōmako – Centre for Māori innovation and entrepreneurship, located within the Managakōtukutuku campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Hamilton. In December, the Kōkiri team are hitting the road with information sessions held in the following location.

To view the full events schedule, programme information and application criteria visit

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