Who runs the world? The response to that question posed by feminist icon Beyonce Knowles in one of her chart topping hits, was quickly answered in the title of the aforementioned song. Who runs the world? GIRLS do.
Ngati Porou has a strong tradition of female leadership - many of our senior whakapapa lines bear female names, and the majority of our marae are named after women. In contemporary times women hold positions of mana within our marae, kura, community groups and organisations.
However when it comes to the Ngati Porou economic world, there seems to be a disparity between Ngati Porou men and women. According to the 2013 Census, Ngati Porou women earn less money than Ngati Porou males, and are less likely to have full-time incomes. Although women are represented within the governance of our Iwi commercial entities, the numbers of females holding positions of power and influence at executive and senior management level are far less. One of the theories suggested as a reason behind the gender gap is that presently our Iwi economic development is mainly focused on the 3 F’s: Farming, Forestry and Fisheries. Industries which traditionally have been male dominated and where women are less likely to climb the corporate ladder.
To help address these issues, while at the same time providing support to help stimulate the micro- economy of Ngati Porou, Whanau Oranga ( the Social Services division of Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou) have teamed up with Maori Womens Development Inc (MWDI) to facilitate a series of business workshops. The purpose of the workshops are to help empower and enable Ngati Porou women and their whanau towards economic and financial independence. By sharing knowledge and information, the series of three wananga which have been held so far, have helped foster the development of business ideas, opportunities and upskilling amongst aspiring Ngati Porou women entrepreneurs.
Above: MWDI Chief Executive, Teresa Tepania-Ashton, with Ngati Porou Hold Co Business Development Manager, John Hockey and TRONPnui Senior Manager, Anne Huriwai.
In December 2014 a three day work- shop was held at Te Tini o Porou in Kaiti. The purpose of the workshop was to introduce He Oranga, an online financial literacy course delivered in conjunction with Massey University. Many of the participants from that programme enrolled in the second wananga held between Wednesday 18th March and Friday 20th of March at Hinepare marae in Rangitukia.
Thirty participants (including some men) attended the Mai Biz wananga, which was aimed primarily at Maori women interested in starting or further developing their own businesses. The group was broken up into five teams, each containing members with varying levels of business knowledge, to create “virtual companies”. Within each “company” group members decided amongst themselves who would take on the roles of CEO, Project Manager, Operations Manager, Production Manager, Financial Controller, Marketing Researcher and Customer Services Manager. They then had to discuss and decide upon what their business idea would be.
Cherry Henry was one of the Mai Biz participants and her team created a fictional company called Koira Floristry. She says her role as Production Manager involved creating budgets and costings for supplies. “During the brainstorming process, everyone came up with different ideas. Because I actually wanted to start my own floristry business, and had photos which could be used for marketing materials, everyone decided to go with that idea. To find out more about what our roles involved, our tutors held mini-workshops specific to each company position. I wanted to know everything about what it takes to run a business, so I tried to eaves drop in on all the sessions to find out what the marketing person does, what the financial controller does and so on.”
Mateawa Keelan was another Mai Biz participant and says her team created a fic tional East Coast based hunting and fishing adventure tourism business". Our group talked about what our passions were, and we all expressed a passion for the out-doors. We decided on our venture because one of our team members actually wanted to run a hunting and fishing business, another two actually are hunters and we could all share good hunting stories. We used the marae’s internet to do our online research about what people in the real world are actually charging for these types of services, and to create our budgets.”
She says the facilitators created an environment which was very motivating. “Right from the start they put you in a positive frame of mind, which inspired us to want to learn and to co-operate with each other. When we got stuck on something, or were feeling abit tired, they came along and gave us the energy to keep going.”
Above: TRONPnui and MWDI teamed up to run a series of business workshops for emerging entrepreneurs at Hinepare marae in March.
On the last day of the wananga the five groups presented their business plans to a panel of nine judges: Te Ikaroa Rawhiti MP, Meka Whaitiri; Mayor Meng Foon; Ruatoria business owners, Eddie and Olivette Clark; Business wom- an, Tina Karaitiana; TRONPnui board member, Lilian Tangaere-Baldwin; and Business Development Manager for Ngati Porou Holding Company, John Hockey. In addition to the floristry and hunting and fishing concepts, the judges also heard business presentations from the other companies - a coastal retreat, a mobile takeaway outlet and a local kai service.
After hearing the presentations the judges provided individual feedback to each of the five groups, and also collectively identified key themes they all had in common. In their summary they said all the business demonstrated a strong passion for the coast – the whenua and its people. As well as a unique cultural point of difference in comparison to businesses offering the same services in other regions. The potential to build their customer bases, by networking and collaborating with businesses providing complementary services was also identified as a common theme. In other words, the five groups had not offered five different products but one total Ngati Porou experience.
John Hockey, the Business Development Manager for Ngati Porou Hold Co says he was very impressed with the calibre of the presentations for a number of reasons. “Firstly, they had good ideas supported by a sound level of detail within each of the business plans. Secondly, there was a good demonstration of including other members of the community with their plans. This collaborative approach to business, whanau working with whanau, means that our individual skills and resources are collectively used. It is this that creates a strong and powerful formula for success. My other observation was that each presentation related to the tourism industry. This demonstrates that there is a genuine pride within our rohe on what we have to offer, which is not surprising as we live in an awesome place!”
Above: Areta Koopu ( Chairwoman of MWDI) checks out one of the new Ngati Porou Business Apps at the launch.
At the conclusion of the judges feedback, an award presentation followed, with Mateawa’s team, Waengakia Hunting and Fishing, winning first place for their business strategy. In addition Mateawa and four other Mai Biz participants were each presented with a surprise award – a Kiwa Business SLAM scholarship valued at $5000, which incorporated taking part in an intensive two day workshop facilitated by multi-media company, Kiwa Digital. This workshop was held at Hinepare marae the following week, and involved taking the five scholarship winners through an accelerated process of designing and creating a digital marketing app to promote their own real-life business.
Cherry was also one of the Kiwa Slam scholarship winners and says the workshop motivated her to kick start her floristry business idea into reality. “We each had to come up with a business and marketing strategy, so I decided to give my business a name and came up with “Cherry Blossom”. We worked with a graphic designer to create our logos, a sound recordist to create our audio ads, which was all put together with visual images to create our apps.”
The launch of the five digital apps created during Kiwa Slam took place at the Waiapu RSA in Tikitiki on June the 5th. Among the whanau and community members who attended included the Chairwoman of MWDI , Areta Koopu . She said, “I’m delighted to see more Ngati Porou women gaining further confidence and knowledge in the business arena. In the future you will see this knowledge being passed down onto your whanau. Keep moving forward, you ‘re not alone. Our organisation will continue to support you in your journey.”