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Māori business accelerator announces 2022 cohort

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Kōkiri is pleased to announce the successful Māori-led start-ups invited to participate in the 2022 programme. Ten technology-enabled start-ups from a wide range of industries such as fintech, edutech, food & beverage, trades and hauora make up the fourth Kōkiri cohort. As the Aotearoa business community is learning to adapt to COVID-19 in the community, the potential and opportunity for Māori led start-ups, with impact positive global business aspirations continues to grow.

Saara Tawha, Kaitiaki for Kōkiri at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is excited at the potential demonstrated by the businesses coming through the selection process.

“We have seen a real jump in both the number of applications and a really high quality of ideas coming through this year.  Many of these ideas have been enabled by the COVID-19 driven increased use of technology. Our wider Kōkiri community is looking forward to coming together and providing wrap around support to the whānau stepping out of their comfort zones, and testing these promising ideas.”

In 2022, with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 prolifically present within the community right across the motu, Kōkiri will deliver a fully online accelerator programme, with a combination of 2-day intense wānanga, weekly workshops and aspirational speakers. Traditionally the programme has been delivered kanohi-ki-te-kanohi (in-person, face to face) but Kōkiri are no strangers to needing to adapt, having successfully run their 2020 programme predominantly online also.

“Our updated and improved online pre-accelerator course has offered a great testing ground for whānau who didn’t feel ready to apply “cold turkey” and provided the introduction into the idea of an accelerator, and how to validate their start up ideas.”

The 2022 cohort includes 26 founders across the 10 start-ups, from across the North Island. Founders come from all walks of life and represent an exciting mix of experiences and skillsets.

Callaghan Innovation – New Zealand’s innovation agency – are committed to developing Māori businesses and see innovation as a crucial pathway to success for Māori. Max Thompson, Product Owner Startups, at Callaghan Innovation says “This year’s Kōkiri Accelerator cohort features teams with incredible Māori entrepreneurs and innovators who are creating scalable and values-based tech solutions that are good for the world.”

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

Spark Māori Development Lead, Riki Hollings says, “Spark are proud to continue supporting this Māori driven kaupapa that enables our Pakihi Māori community at a time in which it is needed most.

“New Zealand businesses have been at the forefront of innovation for many years, so it’s exciting to see a segment from the Māori economy break through too. Innovation is in our DNA so it’s really exciting to stand side by side with these start-ups and help them succeed.”

The 2022 Kōkiri Accelerator will run until the end of June, and programme will be capped off with a Showcase event on the eve of the new Matariki public holiday, 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 2022 Cohort – Team Overview

VentureOverviewTeam Members
Maui and the NFTs
Based in Waikato, Tāmaki Makaurau, Bay of Plenty & King Country
Nau mai ki to mātou waka tauā, te waka o Toa. He whenua hou kei tua tawhiti e tipu matomato ana I ngā rourou ma te katoa e taria ai he tapuwae Māoei, Māori ake nei. Welcome to TOA, who are on a mission to bring truly authentic Māoritanga in all its mana to the digital world through NFTs.Michael Poipoi (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngā Puhi) Peke-Tupaea Manawaiti (Maniapoto) Taite Smith (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi) Taumata Soloman (Ngāi Tūhoe) Joel Tamihana (Ngāti Wairere, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rangitaane, Tainui)
Seasick Sunscreen Co.
Based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Wellington
Founded on a mission to protect people and the planet, Seasick Sunscreen Co. seeks to provide high quality sun protection, whilst reducing ocean pollution through harmful sunscreen chemicals and single-use plastic.Natalie Jones (Ngā Wairiki, Ngāti Apa)
Māori Verse Based in Whangarei & Te Taitokerau  Diving into the digital space, Māori Verse is a marketplace, directory and central hub for Pakihi Māori. A online space that connects consumers with Māori products, services, courses and events.James Sigley (Ngāti Awa,Ngāti Kahungunu) Edith Davis (Ngāti Korora, Te Waiariki, Ngā Rauru) Donnella Piripi (Ngāti Korora, Te Waiariki) Wiha Hiku (Te Uri o Tai, Ngai Tūteauru) Taite Raniera, (Ngāti Hine)
iRangatahi Based in Tāmaki Makaurau – Auckland  iRangatahi is an edtech platform that looks to bridge the diversity gap that exists in the tech sector, opening the doors for rangatahi māori (youth) to explore careers in tech.Dawson Marama (Ngāti Whakaue, Tuhourangi, Te Arawa) Cam Te Paa (Ngā Puhi)  
Inter School League
Based in Rotorua
Inter School League is shaking up the E sports and gaming industry, by creating a structure for healthy, competitive opportunities to engage in gaming for all ages.Manaaki Vercoe-Kameta (Te Arawa) Liam Morgan Paul Suwanapossee  
TAIORA – The Kindness Institute Based in Tāmaki Makaurau – Auckland  The Kindness Institute are leaders in youth mental health and their new partner service “TAIORA” is an edtech, evidence-based resilience and mindfulness teacher training program that will have lasting benefits for youth, teachers and health professionals in Aotearoa.Kristina Cavit Brady Polkinghorne (Ngāti Tamaterā) Te Aorangi-Kowhai Morini (Waikato, Tainui, Ngāpuhi)  
Let’s Get Building Based in Tāmaki Makaurau – Auckland  Let’s Get Building is a digital networking tool centred around the trades industry. Designed to connect those in the industry to support future growth, development and career opportunities.Tamati McLeod (Te Atihaunui a Pāpārangi) Astrid van Uden  
Ao Tiakarete Based in Tāmaki Makaurau – AucklandDecadent and luxury chocolates, created from the heart of Polynesia. Ao Tiakarete incorporates high quality ingredients sourced from across the Pacific, to serve their customers, and has aspirations to build the world’s first Polynesian cacao school and apprenticeship programme.Thomas Hilton (Ngā Puhi)
TK Tapui Based in Kirikiriroa – Hamilton  A stock photography/videography platform that provides representation of Māori and Pasifika cultures. A game changer for businesses in Aotearoa looking for diversity and inclusion in their brand imagery.Tainui Berryman (Waikato) Kimberley Berryman (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Raukawa)
Green Light Escrow
Based in Tāmaki Makaurau
Green Light Escrow is taking a fintech solution to the trades industry, to support tradies to have better access to fair and on-time payments.Max Semmons-Russell (Te Rarawa / Te Arawa) Steph Kennard Mike Semmons

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 2022 is proudly funded by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and Callaghan Innovation and delivered by Te Ahikōmako – Centre for Māori Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Hamilton. We are excited to soon announce our new and returning sponsors for 2022, joining long-time sponsor Spark NZ to support the Kōkiri programme and this year’s start-ups.


Media Contact Saara Taawha – Kōkiri Kaitiaki
[email protected] 027 807 8556

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