skip to Main Content

Taking indigenous excellence to the world!

The chocolate industry in Aotearoa, New Zealand is growing, and momentum is gathering across the sector, as is the awareness of what Tom is working on with Ao Tiakarete.

Tom Hilton is taking indigenous excellence to the world, through chocolate.

For rangatahi, the world is now finally re-opening and people are starting to leave – we need to retain their talents, and to do so we need to provide the opportunities our rangatahi need and want.  Ao Tiakarete is offering one such opportunity, by developing an edtech platform for rangatahi to gain skills as chocolatiers.

Ao Tiakarete was founded as an eCommerce site that has been growing and generating revenue steadily since day one.

Ao Tiakarete has been funded by ‘Help on the Marae’ to run some chocolatier training classes for rangatahi, and is currently working on a partnership with Puro – Med Can, medicinal cannabis-infused chocolates that can be prescribed by GPs across the country.

The word is out and Tom has already received several inquiries from those wishing to become his apprentices.  Ao Tiakarete is a regular presence around Aotearoa, including the upcoming ‘Eat NZ – Kai Hou’ at Matariki, and a Bay of Islands Matariki event alongside Hangi Master – Rewi Spraggin.

In the next 12 months, Tom plans to launch his edtech app, scale up the production side of the business, take on his first apprentices, increase the national awareness of his product and the educational opportunities he offers, and have at least one stockist in both the US and the UK.

If you would like to support Ao Tiakarete, Tom is currently looking for advisors to join his advisory board. The business is also looking to identify the right brand and marketing consultancy/agency to support business development.

Founder, Tom Hilton (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Whatua, Whakatohea) trained under a Professional Patisserie Scholarship – City & Guilds. He is a professional pastry chef/chocolatier with 11 years of experience and has worked in three Michelin Star Chef Restaurants, and alongside Gordon Ramsay.

Tom is now a bespoke chocolatier for high-profile customers and has served his delicacy to dignitaries including the Queen of England, the Rothschild Family, and Che Fu.

Connect with Ao Tiakarete

PHONE: 0212529548
EMAIL: [email protected]
FACEBOOK: @ao.cacao
INSTAGRAM:  @ao.cacao


Thomas Hilton

Founder (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Whatua, Whakatōhea)

Kōkiri Coach

Huw Jones

Business Coach

Kōkiri Experience

Coming through the Kōkiri business accelerator has given Tom exposure to the wide range of people who form the Māori-led business community that has wrapped around his cohort.  Tom says that Kōkiri has been the “best thing – kicking me up the bum to push me into areas that I had never thought of.”

Tom believes that Kōkiri has helped him to grow, and pushed him into a space of being comfortable in the uncomfortable.

The things that have made the biggest difference are the new networks, the doors that have been opened, having Huw Jones as his coach, and also “When I mention that I am a part of Kōkiri, I get an instant respect because of the association.”

Tom believes that others should apply to Kōkiri ”If you have a conceptual idea or a vision that you want to take to the next level, Kōkiri is the right environment to push people to their absolute levels of potential and it’s all done within a kaupapa Māori environment.”


Back To Top