“I didn't choose the skuxx life, the skuxx life chose me”.

I love hearing new words.  

This week, at a hui of Māori entrepreneurs the phrase ‘Genetic Maorification’ was dropped into the conversation.   It draws from the concept of whakapapa;  genealogy being passed from one generation to the next and the impact of whakaaro Māori upon the maturing nationhood of this land.

Another way of putting it might be that infamous phrase from the Hunt for the Wilderpeople: “I didn’t choose the skuxx life, the skuxx life chose me”.   

It’s about the gift of stories shared with us about the traditions, the history, the sense of being associated with our heritage.   Identity; connection, belonging – the shaping of the land we call home.

This week, genetic Maorification was extended to the world of money. The new crisp dollar notes that fill our wallets are embellished with ‘Aotearoa’; ‘Te Pūtea Matua’ (the Reserve Bank) and the names of native birds like hoiho, whio, kārearea, kōkako, mohua.

The Brighter Money website is well worth a look.   It tells the story of how Aoraki came to land on the $5 note; or the “majestical” Tapuae-o-Uenuku, the highest peak in the Kaikōura range of mountains gracing the $20 note.



Ko te tauira e whakamahia nei hei kaupapa mō te moni pēke $100 ko Whakaaro Kotahi, mai i te wharenui o Kaakati, i Whakatū Marae, i te Tauihu o Te Waka.

And how proud are the iwi of Te Tauihu that for the highest denomination – the $100 note - the pattern used is of Whakaaro Kotahi from the Wharenui Kaakati at Whakatū Marae in Nelson.  Whakaaro Kotahi is a representation of the unity and consensus of the six iwi of Whakatū Marae.  That’s pretty special to have the stories and strength of iwi of Te Waipounamu being accorded the highest value in the banknotes that form the New Zealand mint.  Kotahitanga; whanaungatanga, mana whenua – all being shown to be “of value”.


When we think about telling our own stories, the tamariki of Ōnuku Rūnanga will have plenty of wonderful stories to share with the generations that flow on from them.   

Over the last weekend, as whānau flocked to Akaroa to celebrate the opening of the wharekai, one of the special features everyone has been talking about was the sight of the children, so proud and tall, serving their manuhiri, upholding the mana of the marae with every step they took.   What a wonderful memory for them to have; to be able to tell their mokopuna that they were such an integral part of the opening of the wharekai in April 2016.

The whānau from Ōnuku during the pōwhiri on Waitangi Day

The whānau from Ōnuku during the pōwhiri on Waitangi Day

A special moment for us all at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu occurred this week with the arrival in town of Julie Ruawai and Tracey Puha to sign the contract for Waka Whenua.


Waka Whenua prioritises belonging, identity, whakapapa and the absolute value of human life. The Ipu Whenua provides a modern tool for whānau to continue that wisdom. The project includes the construction of fully bio-degradable, leak proof, attractive and purposeful containers for whenua tapu (placenta). The waka are memory boxes to hold mementos and keepsakes and an opportunity to celebrate the birth of a child.  A key feature of the project is to facilitate and support whānau in the care of the whenua and the customary practice of storing and burying whenua.  The project team already has orders for 55 Ipu and 18 waka!.

Staying with Te Tauihu, the energy levels were certainly pumping high on Thursday, for Ann Martin (Te Āwhina Marae), Sam Thorn (Ngati Kuia), Chrissy Randall (Whakatu Te Korowai Manaakitanga Trust); Julie Ruawai and Tracey Puha (Waka Whenua), and Navigators Tane Whanga and Sean Delaney being trained in the art of Results Based Accountability (RBA) with the gloriously hapu trainer, Stacey McGregor.


I was interested in this recent university of Otago article, From Nigeria to Maori Entrepreneurship. Ruth is taking the concept of “entrepreneurial orientation” and looking at how it is perceived and manifested by Maori, based on Te Ao Māori.

“Although Maori culture was new to Ruth, she is from an indigenous group with parallels to Maori culture, particularly around the importance of whānau.   “That has given me a foundation to really be able to understand Maori culture. I don’t find it strange – I see similarities.”   Her research is also informed by her Master’s degree study in Sweden and Sami indigenous group who live in Umea. This laid a foundation of understanding indigenous issues”.


What was interesting in the Otago University article was a statement that “according to a 2015 MBIE report there is a low level of entrepreneurialism among Māori”.

Another report, the Canstar report suggests that although there are 487,900 actively trading businesses in New Zealand, “just under 1,000 businesses were identified as Maori enterprises. Over two-thirds of these were involved in agriculture, forestry, and fishing, either through direct operation or property rental and leasing”.

I find these statements about low levels of Māori entrepreneurship hard to believe.   Just in this hub alone, we have what might be described as nine Māori enterprises – Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu; Ariki Creative, Manu Media, Māui Studios, K4 Cultural Landscaping, Ihi Research, Matauraki Mahaanui, Te Tapuae o Rehua, Digital Natives Aotearoa.

Something to ponder about anyway…..we’d be interested to hear your views…..

Postscript: For those who read the headline and wondered what skuxx means….apparently, according to now celebrity actor Julian Dennison, Skuxx means "cool, funky, energetic and smart”.  Suits the kōrero around Māori entrepreneurship we reckon.

Coming Up in the next fortnight – and certainly not to be missed….

  • Watch out for Hon Te Ururoa Flavell; the Minister for Whānau Ora and his visits in Christchurch (Tuesday-Thursday); Dunedin (Friday) and Gore (Saturday)
  • Thursday 21 April; ‘Men Under the Pump’ – a symposium looking at men’s issues; Christchurch Community House, Te Whakaruruhau ki Ōtautahi; 301 Tuam Street, Christchurch (Minister Flavell is a keynote speaker)
  • Tuesday 26 April : Results Based Accountability Training – Dunedin
  • Wednesday 27 April; 5-9pm; Addington Co-op, 297 Lincoln Road, Addington –hui to announce three new investment rounds for Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu (further hui to follow in Murihiku, Whakatū, Hokitika, Ōtākou) [a separate pānui will be sent shortly]
  • Thursday 28 – Friday 29 April : Maara Kai Symposium, Christchurch.