When Donnella Phillips was looking to buy her son’s 18th birthday a taiaha (a long, thin hand weapon usually made from natural hardwood, sometimes whalebone), she found an authentic one online. I was frustrated that I didn’t have one. Made in New Zealand. And it was at a Whanau gathering in Pataua that Phillips discovered that she wasn’t the only one with that problem.
“We were all talking about the lack of retail stores online selling convenient yet authentic Maori items. We decided that we needed to create a marketplace-like platform so that we could sell our products like the Maori Universe.”
The next step was to apply for Kōkiri, a Maori-led business accelerator program for startups. The group submitted their business plan and application just before midnight, the day before the application deadline. Celebrations followed soon after we received the news that the 2022 intake had been successfully accepted, and it was time to get things in full swing.
“We were pretty stunned to be involved and knew it meant we were serious about what we were trying to achieve,” says Phillips.
“And while we thought we knew what we were going to be working on, we certainly underestimated how much it accelerated. After the first workshop the reality A check was made and I realized how huge it was and that all the brains needed to work together… Cowpapa.
And then, pretty early on, a big shift happened in what the family team was really trying to create. According to James Davis-Sigley, the pitch was repeated many times to clarify what the final business offering would be.
“We entered Kokiri with the intention of launching Maori River as a shopping site. Then it turned out that the real challenge was in the actual verification process. So we had to turn what we were doing upside down and create a solution that would help us identify the business we were shopping at as genuine Māori. ”
This was a pretty big pivot for the group that originally decided to solve that concern after developing the shopping site. But they soon realized that the seal of verification had to come first.
“By creating the website we knew we were going to be fighting companies that use Te Ao Maori but are not actually Maori owned and don’t contribute to the growth of the Maori economy. It became a bigger problem, fighting cultural appropriation and its negative impact on the Maori economy, so we are here to help solve that problem,” says Phillips. .
That is why Maori Rivers now has a verification process built-in. This is a mark of verification that informs the purchaser that the product or service is from Kaupapa his Māori business. Users can also connect to their Hapū and Iwi, as well as places to purchase from verified Māori-owned businesses, service providers, and professionals.
“At first, we were at a superficial level with plans to launch a website, but now we have verification, product locations and directory locations. We haven’t actually done any promotion or marketing, but we’re pretty much ready,” says Davis-Sigley.
And Mahi was certainly done to get them to where they are at this point. .
“We realized that this was more than just a business and that helping the Maori economy grow was something that would benefit all Maori people, so it was important to check everything. Only once, if I hadn’t done Kōkiri, I probably would have started the show early in June, but thank goodness for telling me to give you time to make sure everything is right before proceeding. “We did it,” says Phillips.
“From our own cultural values of Tikanga to acknowledging Kaitiakitanga, we don’t have to do what others are doing. We need to do what we think is best for Kaupapa. I have.”
And for a family that not only works together but also plays together, they know that keeping things separate has been an important part of their success so far.
“This is a business and sometimes you have to step off that side and pop into the marae kitchen with a tea towel. We try to have real conversations,” says Davis-Sigley.
Combining skills from all disciplines including IT, education, corporate sales, business management and creative development, wānau is very proud to have built the first indigenous platform of its kind anywhere in the world. . There are also over 23,000 Māori businesses registered in New Zealand, and by mid-2023 he hopes to have 2,000 verified and sold on the Māoriverse.
Story by Erin Harrison.in cooperation with Kokiri.
Innovation Nation is a series celebrating stories of innovation and diversity in entrepreneurship across New Zealand.
https://nzentrepreneur.co.nz/maoriverse-verifies-maori-made-products-with-mark-of-authenticity-and-a-marketplace-to-sell/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=maoriverse-verifies-maori-made-products-with-mark-of-authenticity-and-a-marketplace-to-sell Maori Rivers authenticate and market Maori products – NZ Entrepreneur Magazine