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Māori business accelerator announces 2021 cohort

Kōkiri is pleased to announce the successful Māori-led start-ups invited to participate in the 2021 programme. Seven technology-focused start-ups from a wide range of industries such as film production, fintech, tourism and wellbeing make up the third Kōkiri cohort. As the local economy shows signs of early recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 and the last financial year, Kōkiri and its partners remain committed to developing early-stage Māori ventures as the dust starts to settle in local and global markets.

Aubrey Te Kanawa, head of Kōkiri at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa says that now more than ever, we need to support the new wave of start-ups and whānau ventures. “The last 12 months have been challenging for some new or early-stage start-ups in Aotearoa so the additional support we have been able to provide this year to entrepreneurs and teams outside of our traditional Kōkiri accelerator programme has increased the impact of the Kōkiri kaupapa.”

Kōkiri delivered a series of two-day workshops and then an online pre-acceleration course focussing on building validation evidence for the participants startup idea. The short course helped to engage grassroots start-ups in acceleration methodology and proven business validation tools within a kaupapa Māori environment.

“We know innovative ideas and new technologies are being developed outside of the big cities and urban areas so hitting the road and then providing an online space to connect with start-ups was a significant development of our pre-acceleration activities in 2021.”

Aubrey Te Kanawa, head of Kōkiri at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa

The 2021 programme officially kicked off last week with the first kanohi-ki-te-kanohi noho (in-person residential) portion of the programme delivered in Kirikiriroa – Hamilton. “Last year we were 95% online digital delivery due to lockdown restrictions so this year we are excited to be running a hybrid or blended programme, with sessions split between in-person and online delivery,” says Te Kanawa.

“The range of industries, sectors and issues being addressed in this cohort are so diverse and we are excited to be working with all of the teams, business coaches and mentors for this cohort.”

The 2021 teams are from all corners of the country including start-up hot spots of Otautahi (Christchurch) and Gisborne. The new cohort has founders from all walks of life and for the first time since Kōkiri started in 2018, female founders have outnumbered their male counterparts.

Callaghan Innovation – New Zealand’s innovation agency – are committed to developing Māori businesses and see innovation as a crucial pathway to success for Māori. Aroha Armstrong, group manager Māori economy at Callaghan Innovation, says “COVID has put a spotlight on Aotearoa with our people centered approach, and the globe is watching!”  

“The Kōkiri Accelerator highlights Māori as natural entrepreneurs and innovators creating scaleable technology that is good for the world with this exciting new cohort.  We’re deeply proud to see the number wahine founders coming to the fore, solving global problems with values based tech solutions”. 

Aroha Armstrong, group manager Māori economy at Callaghan Innovation

Alongside funding from Callaghan Innovation, the Kokiri programme is proudly supported by some of Aotearoa’s leading organisations that share the values and aspirations for Māori entrepeneurs and start-ups.

MYOB Head of Technology, Grant McIvor, says: “Technology is a powerful driver for positive change; when good technology is developed, it has the ability to transform lives – the way we live, our mahi, and how we communicate or connect.

“This year’s Kōkiri cohort is a shining example of the innovative, creative talent we have right here in Aotearoa who are creating meaningful, Māori-led businesses that have the potential to shape the future and boost our economy.

Grant McIvor, Head of Technology at MYOB

It’s great to see such diversity in the range of business concepts presented so far, and I look forward to working alongside these teams as they continue to simplify, enhance and even challenge the status quo using technology, and help them to accelerate their business ventures,” he says.

The 2021 Kōkiri Accelerator will run until the end of July and programme will be capped off with a Showcase event to celebrate the teams journey and provide a launchpad for the next phase for each team, whether its investment, product launch, or founder recruitment.

Kōkiri 2021 Cohort Teams
The Kōkiri 2021 Cohort whānau

Kōkiri 2021 Cohort – Team Overview

incluvu Based in Rotorua, Bay of Plenty start-up, incluvu, are championing digital accessibility in Aotearoa. The Rotorua based team are developing software to address neuro diverse issues such as dyslexia, colour blindness and Irlen syndrome in online learning environments.Danielle Caudwell (Te Arawa) Roslyn Morshead
In the Flow State Based in Tāmaki Makaurau – AucklandEarly-stage fintech venture, In the Flow State,  has developed an application to support rangatahi (youth) and whānau (families) managing current financial situations and planning for the financial future through accountability, support, credit building and rewarding positive habits and achieving goals.Tyrone Tangata-Makiri (Ngāpuhi) Kamilla Witehira (Ngāti Kahungunu) Naomi Taripo  
Korawai Based in Tāmaki Makaurau – AucklandWearable technology start-up, Korawai, bringing together hardware, biology and design to create a unique offering in the growing global pet tech and pet care market.John Taimana (Ngā Puhi, Te Kawerau-a-Maki)
Fiona Taimana
Juan Pablo Forero Sachith Muthukumarana
Āmio & Pogo Tourism Based in Ōtautahi – ChristchurchĀmio was created by five frustrated University students that wanted to connect with authentic tourism experiences, without an agent or marketplace middleman. Designed for tech-savvy, young professionals and families, Āmio, will effortlessly plan travel activities and itinerates.Angus Gieseg (Ngai Tahu) John Ryan Tyler Stanley Sam Verdellen James Brown
Rafael Goesmann
The Best Kept Secret Based in Turanganui-a-Kiwa – GisborneThe Best Kept Secret is an online marketplace that leases designer fashion to solve the quintessential millennial problem – a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear. Offering access to designer brands without the designer price tags to shrewd online shoppers.Paige Arago-Kemp (Ngati Porou) Paris Arago-Kemp (Ngati Porou) Celeste Donner (Rongowhakaata)
The Granary Based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Wellington Watch VideoThe Wellington-based creative duo is disrupting film making methods with virtual production. Film-tech production company, The Granary, are utilising technology that can support local content creators with high-tech and Hollywood ambitions.Amber Marie Naveira (Tainui) Victor Naveira
Rāngaiāngai-the-wellbeing-collective/ Based in Kirikiriroa – Hamilton and Tāmaki Makaurau – AucklandHealth-tech start-up, Rāngai, have built a one-stop shop for hauora (health) in Aotearoa. OOSH app provides access to wellbeing products and services, no matter the time, day or location and enables users (individuals, groups or organisations) to customise and tailor available offerings.Tuihana Ohia (Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngai te Rangi, Te Arawa) Puamoeawa Phillips (Tainui, Tuwharetoa, Taranaki) Donna Phillips (Tainui, Tuwharetoa, Taranaki) Tim Mehrtens

About Kōkiri

Kōkiri is a Māori business acceleration programme, based on kaupapa Māori values, focused on accelerating early-stage start-ups that have bold ambitions and are impact positive.  Kōkiri supports Māori-led start-ups that have high-growth potential to develop their business capability and wellbeing, through tailored experiential-based learning, supported by mentors, coaches, and experts in a safe and culturally responsive learning environment. Kōkiri 2021 is proudly funded by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and Callaghan Innovation and is sponsored by AJ Park, Arataki Systems, Auckland Unlimited, AWS, Company X, Hillfarrance, MYOB, Poutama Trust, Spark, and Tompkins Wake.


Media Contact Aimee Burness – Manager Community Experience & Events [email protected] 0273059354

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