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Māori are leading the way in tech success and business acceleration: Kōkiri

From our Partners

By Callaghan Innovation

9 May 2022

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Māori business founders across Aotearoa are taking their expertise and applying it to tech, creating successful future-focused hi-tech businesses.


Kōkiri is a Māori business acceleration programme, based on kaupapa Māori values, focused on accelerating early-stage Māori led start-ups that have bold ambitions, are impact positive and technology-enabled.

Led out of Kirikiriroa, but open to teams from across the motu, Kōkiri works with an annual cohort of Māori-led start-ups that have high-growth potential to develop their business capability and wellbeing.

The Kōkiri programme provides teams with tailored experiential-based learning, access to supportive mentors, coaches and experts, and a safe and culturally responsive learning environment. 

Callaghan Innovation is one of the sponsors of the Kōkiri accelerator, through its Accelerator programme.


The Kōkiri portfolio – 36 teams of thriving Māori tech businesses

It’s no secret that the Kōkiri portfolio canvasses plenty of impressive Māori tech businesses – and it’s growing. The 2022 cohort features 26 founders across the 10 start-ups, from across the North Island, with a range of expertise, skills and founder knowledge.

Kōkiri Programme Manager, Saara Tawha, says that to date, Kōkiri has supported 36 innovative Māori-led teams in their tech journeys.

“Kōkiri works with Māori start-ups across a range of sectors,” says Tawha. “There’s no shortage of tech excellence being demonstrated by the Māori-led teams of entrepreneurs  we’re fortunate to have worked with over the past four years.”

Check out some of the incredible teams from previous years’ cohorts – or read about this year’s current cohort here.

Nau Mai Rā – Co-founded by Young New Zealander of the Year 2021 - Ezra Hirawani, and Benjamin Armstrong – 2020 Kōkiri Cohort

New Zealand’s first kaupapa Māori electricity retail company - Nau Mai Rā want to end power poverty in Aotearoa through the spirit of manaakitanga – care of others

Korawai – Co-founded by John Taimana and Fiona Taimana – 2021 Kōkiri Cohort

Wearable pet technology to provide comfort to your pooch from your mobile device - Korawai is a local wearable tech start-up with a vision of comfort through connectivity for those who can’t seek help themselves.

Barrett Dynamics – Co-founded by Manu Barrett and Nikki Barrett – 2020 Kōkiri Cohort
Pursuing cheaper solar power for the people - Delivering affordable and efficient solar power to communities is one of Barrett Dynamics core business objectives.

The Kōkiri point of difference – and lessons for other accelerators

Tawha says the Kōkiri point of difference is that the programme is kaupapa-based.

“We work with the founders to understand how they define success,” says Tawha. “Often our founders are focused on what positive impact they can create – for their communities, whānau, or the world around them, as well as what legacy they are leaving for future generations.”

This founder-focus means the programme has been tailored each year to ensure that it’s as accessible as possible for Māori founders to join.

“By incorporating tikanga, te reo Māori, and ensuring our programme is delivered through a Te Ao Māori lens, we’re making sure more Māori have access to a kaupapa-based programme to accelerate their tech ideas,” says Tawha.”

Max Thompson, Product Owner Startups, at Callaghan Innovation says, “Kōkiri plays a critical role in tech acceleration in Aotearoa by ensuring that Māori-led start-ups have access to a programme that utilises a by Māori, with Māori, and for Māori approach. Kōkiri has also supported dozens of exceptional startups - all creating products, services and solutions to make the world around us a better place”

Keep an eye out for news on the many exceptional start-ups Kōkiri works with by checking out their website below.



Callaghan Innovation is delighted to again be a strategic partner to Techweek 2022 - check out our Techweek’22 event playlist here, and mark the activity in your calendar.

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