These kupu are the guiding whakatauākī for Callaghan Innovation, an organisation that is committed to creating new and smarter ways of doing things to benefit all New Zealanders. This week, I was privileged to attend a Māori Innovation Leaders hui in Te Whanganui a Tara, along with our Capability Development Lead Mihi-Rose Tipene. You’ll find more details about this event later in the blog, but it has left me thinking about the nature of innovation. What does innovation look like for our whānau and hapori?
All too often we find ourselves thinking about innovation on a grand scale – giant nets that are clearing our oceans of plastic, self-driving cars that are improving road safety and saving us time. While there is no doubt that these sorts of technological advancements are both impressive and important, they’re still a little out of reach for most of us. If we focus only on this sort of radical innovation, we risk discouraging whānau from thinking about the seemingly small changes they can make to affect their wellbeing – because innovation can also be something simple that makes life easier for one whānau.
When it comes to investing in innovation, we need a shift in mindset.
Whānau Ora has shown us that innovation comes in all shapes and sizes, and that a big kaupapa can come from a small idea. From Little Shop of Taonga, a toi Māori business born out of a dream to create a different lifestyle for one whānau, to Reigning Downs, a riding school created by a former school teacher who saw horses as a way to address gaps in the education system, to Matariki Mushrooms, a whānau business that is helping others to grow their own kai and restore our whenua.
These are just a few of the entities we have been proud to support over the past eight years, who are demonstrating the power of grassroots innovation to affect real change. When investment into innovation is only accessible by large organisations, it shuts whānau out of the opportunity to shape their own futures.
I believe that the Callaghan Institute stands alongside Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu in recognising the power of innovation at every level. It is my hope that more organisations will come to see what we see: the innate ability that whānau have to create their own solutions, and the inherent right we should all have to explore the unknown and pursue excellence.