Dean Hu’akau and Rickie Kewene are both full of praise for He Kākano, a student enterprise programme for Māori run out of the Otago Business School. “It has shown me that anything is possible,” says Rickie.
He Kākano runs every year in November/December. The competition is organised by Otago University and Otago Polytechnic, in collaboration with PowerHouse Ventures and Te Puni Kokiri.
Senior students of Māori descent attend a four week programme. They learn about various business concepts, such as how to generate, evaluate and develop a good business idea – and turn it into reality. The programme culminates in students pitching their own ideas to a ‘Taniwha Den’ of judges.
The theme in 2014 was Kaitiakitanga: guardianship, protection, preservation or sheltering. Groups had to develop a business idea around this concept. Dean’s group proposed a nationwide Māori business website. “At the moment all Māori business websites are regional,” he explains. Dean was the recipient of the Continuing Education Award.
Rickie’s group focused on the idea of summer Iwi jobs – liaising between Iwi and students to provide summer jobs that would meet the needs of Iwi. “Young Māori students currently do not have a relationship with their Iwi/Hapu,” he says.
The Marae visit was the highlight for them both Dean and Rickie. “Meeting the facilitators, fellow students, speakers and people on the Marae was the best part,” says Dean. “Everyone was so interesting, informative and positive.”