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Dunedin teen wins Maori business award

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An Otepoti teenager who founded the world’s largest poi maker and an organization that helps marae reduce their waste are among the winners of this year’s Maori Business Awards.

Georgia Latu (Kai Tahu, Ngapuhi), the 16-year-old founder and managing director of Potiki Poi, won the Young Maori Entrepreneur Award, a recognition she said she was moved by.

”We’ve been through a lot lately, one of my best friends passed away not long ago and so when I look at this award I see my best friend. And also see the hard work that has been done to make Potiki poi the largest poi manufacturing company in the world,” said Georgia.

In 2019, then 12-year-old Georgia poi poi as a fundraiser, managing to win $1,000 in three days.

At the start of Potiki Poi, Georgia was asked in an interview where she sees her business going, to which she replied, “I want to walk into a store and buy the original Aotearoa poi”.

“And now we can enter a countdown and buy the original Aotearoa poi. ”

The contractor has since been contracted by the Women’s Rugby World Cup to manufacture 32,000 poi, an order it says took an entire whanau.

“We sent a tono to our hapori, to our community to come and help Potiki Poi carry out this crazy order and thanks to that, we were actually able to offer a lot of rangatahi in Otepoti a first job, which is also amazing,” Georgia said.

There are 20 people on Potiki Poi’s payroll, with about 80 orders per week. But Georgia aimed to continue expanding.

Georgia said she hopes to launch a new clothing brand for Potiki Poi in the coming days.

Another winner was Para Kore, a Maori organization that supports the marae to reduce waste, which won the Te Tohu Whakanuia te Rangatira a Manuka Henare – an award that recognizes education, service and leadership.

Para Kore Kaihautu Matua Jacqui Forbes said it was a huge honor.

Para Kore received the Energy Global Award for New Zealand for its marae-based program that reduces waste to landfill by up to 85%.

“It’s an award that recognizes Manuka Henare, which makes it even more special. . . we started as a small project within another organization called Extreme Zero Waste and grew over time. So we’re really humbled and appreciate this recognition,’ Ms Forbes said.

Ms. Forbes and her team started with three marae in 2009. They now work with more than 730 ropu, including marae, kohanga reo, kura kaupapa and social service organizations.

She recognized that as part of manaakitanga, marae tended to have a lot of leftover kai, so she helped reduce the amount of waste.

More marae should embrace composting and use organic waste to help grow more kai, she said.

“Another thing that we like to educate about is that the situation we find ourselves in right now is that we are in linear economies and they are extractive in nature and they are based on making profits before everything,” Ms. Forbes said.

“So looking after papatuanuku or looking after people is not a goal or an objective of our current economic system that we have, and the system was created out of colonialism and capitalism.

“It’s good to look at kai’s whakapapa as well and remember how our tupuna and how we still do now, collect our own kai and how our ways of collecting our kai were interrupted by colonization.”

The managing director of therapeutic care brand Aotea, Tama Toki, has won the Maori Entrepreneurial Leader Award and the Kaitiaki Business Leader Award.

“The work that we put into this business, it can be quite difficult, it can be quite difficult by its very nature to run a facility that produces our rongoa and we chose to take a difficult path but it felt right.

When you’re recognized like that, it’s really very special,” he said.

The incorporation of matauranga Maori was vital in his business.

”We don’t do it for the sake of doing it, we do it because it feels right…the hierarchy of values ​​we have as a company is underpinned by our tikanga and our kawa” , did he declare. said.

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