Maori business owners from around the region will have the chance to network with other like-minded communities, at an upcoming conference held in Tauranga.
Te Hekenga III is the third national meeting for Maori business networks and Maori SME's throughout the country.
Mana Taiao Events director Jacqui Rolleston says the event is well-anticipated by businesses communities.
“Even though it does have a focus on Maori businesses, a lot of strategic partners and advice givers are non-Maori.
“It's beneficial for everyone. These speakers can also benefit a lot of non-Maori.”
The event was formerly run as an initiative of the Tauranga Maori Business Network, says Jacqui.
“It is now independent of them and is run by Mana Taiao events, but we collaborate a lot with local Maori businesses to bring it all together.”
She says there is a real need for the event in the local area.
“There are a lot of Maori business networks nationally, but none from a local perspective, so we see a need to pull these networks together, by hosting this event.
“We looked at taking the conference to Wellington, but we ended up bring it back because we wanted to share the benefits of hosting the conference with the city.
“We tend to pull in a lot of sponsors and support from the local area. We have around ten sponsors including local and national.”
Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Priority One and MoanaFM are some of many local sponsors. At a national scale, the event is also being sponsored by Te Puni Kokiri.
“In addition it's well supported by Minister of Maori Development, Nanaia Mahuta and Minister of Regional Economic Development, Shane Jones, who will both be at the event.”
She says the event has a great line up of speakers.
“We've got Ian Taylor as a key note speaker, he has extensive experience in media and on top of this has also created a lot of software solutions for sporting events
“One of these was the America's Cup. He also spoke at Matariki X, the Callaghan Innovation Conference.
“We have speakers from New Zealand Maori Tourism businesses, including one named John Barrett who runs a tourism experience in Kapiti.
“Brad Kora, will also be sharing a speech on his music background with LAB and as a business owner of a mixed martial arts gym in Whakatane.”
Jacqui says one of the most exciting speakers is Christian Wroth, creator of the widely popular Pipi Ma doll and winner of innovation award at the 2017 Rotorua Westpac Business Awards.
“We also have a three person panel of people with portfolios around Maori economic development, who will be able to provide some really good advice not only to business owners but those who are looking into starting a business.
“Our speakers are divided into two categories, including people who give advice for business including marketing finance accounting.
“The other type is those who are in business and they give journey stories.
“We have a great calibre of speakers not only at the conference, but at our registration evening on February 14, which is free.”
She says the event is beneficial to all.
“It's not just for small businesses, it's also for trusts and hapu. They can get a lot of very good advice, networking opportunities and alliances for investing.
“We've focused this event to carter to those in a business space who are wanting to develop.
“We're looking at small-to-medium-enterprises but also larger enterprises, because there's a double spin-off.
“The smaller businesses can learn off the bigger fish and bigger businesses are happy not only to mentor but to see what's happening in the economic development area.”
The networking conference will be at Trinity Wharf from February 15 and 16, with a free registration evening on February 14 at Tauranga Art Gallery.
Registrations can be made on the Te Hekenga website.