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Student sees value in Maori language label

A GISBORNE university student has started a business to revitalise the Maori language. It’s called Taputapu and specialises in designing Te Reo Maori homewares.

University of Waikato Bachelor in Media and Creative Technologies student Nikki Kennedy came up with the idea when she noticed an absence of the language in modern homes.

Around the same time, the university launched its summer start-up programme (SSUP) and Nikki took it as a sign to apply. She says the programme gave her everything she needed to bring her idea to life.

“The SSUP programme ran over 10 weeks and offered a $5000 scholarship, one-on-one mentoring, workshops and all the tools you need to start up your own company or project,” said the former Lytton High School student.

While her idea required some management and marketing knowledge, not being qualified in that area did not put Nikki off. She knew her idea had value and with the right help and support, she could make it successful.

Successful it is. Nikki is selling out of products weekly through her website www.taputapu.co.nz.

But she says her main focus is on her official launch in July as part of Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori (Maori Language Week).

Getting involved with different kaupapa, such as SSUP and Te Ahurutanga student leadership programme, have been highlights of Nikki’s time at university so far.

“These opportunities have introduced me to some incredible people who I may not have known otherwise,” she said.

Along with the SSUP scholarship, the third-year student has received two Maori Excellence Awards, a Te Tohu Paetahi Scholarship and Te Ahurutanga Scholarship.

Her key to success?

“Being passionate about what you study. If you are not passionate about it then everything is hard and becomes a drag. I don’t see why anyone would spend their time, energy and money on a qualification that means nothing to them. I’m lucky I’ve found something I love,” she said.

Once she graduates, Nikki wants to run her own company and be her own boss.

A TE REO BUSINESS: Former Gisborne woman Nikki Kennedy has started a business aimed at helping to revitalise the Maori language. During Maori Language Week, in July she will launch the business which includes selling homeware items like glass storage jars with te reo labelling. As well as the name of the product in te reo, it has a sentence which could be used with the word in it. Picture supplied