Pasifika businesses forging new digital frontiers

A three-day pre-accelerator workshop held at Te Papa’s innovation hub Mahuki in May saw five selected teams experience design, technology, mobile, security, data collection management, social media authentication, language protection and technology.



The workshop was held by Te Papa and the Pacific Business Trust to support promising Pasifika businesses, as they take on commercial opportunities in the global culture and heritage sector.


Mahuki general manager Tui Te Hau says the teams worked intensively with the Pacific Business Trust to build their business foundations and now have the opportunity to explore a valuable channel to national and international markets through this workshop, and applying to the Mahuki accelerator programme.


“As part of the three-day workshop, the businesses were on site at Te Papa and could step through the doors out onto the museum floor to interact with and observe museum visitors.


“They also had opportunities to work with Te Papa staff, in order to further develop their business ideas,” she says.


In selecting teams to join the accelerator programme, Te Hau says they looked out for innovation and solutions that will connect New Zealanders to their history, stories and treasures.


“There are many rich Pacific stories that also help tell global stories such as climate change, navigation, and forging new frontiers.”


Pacific Business Trust chairman Fa’amatuainu Tino Pereira says the Mahuki Pacific Innovation event marked a 21st Century approach by the Trust to ensure that a growing number of Pasifika young people are engaged and taking up tech opportunities.


“I am proud that PBT is taking a leadership role in this for our communities,” he says.


Pacific Business Trust chief executive Kim Tuaine says collaborating with Mahuki opens the door for Pacific tech entrepreneurs to hopefully assume a position as innovators in the culture and heritage sector.


“Our key objective is to highlight the opportunities the Mahuki incubator has to offer our Pasifika communities.”


The teams have the opportunity to apply to the Mahuki accelerator programme and will continue to be supported by the PBT.


The Pacific Business Trust is funded by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples to ensure business growth and innovation relating to Pacific business development.


Participating teams


Best by Peers


Janet MacFarlane is in the process of setting up ‘Best by Peers’, an online social discovery platform. While there are already countless individual online profile and social media platforms, Janet’s focus is on creating a credible and trustworthy digital presence, so that we can use social technology to influence more positive change.


Creative Blackstorm


Blackstorm Creative is a company driven on the creative path to take on the Information Technology, Digital Media and Design industry. With the digital world continuously expanding, they are dedicated to being ahead of the game, meaning we can produce your content to suit any format you can think of. They utilise the best tools and many years of experience to produce a product that will exceed expectations and leave a lasting impression. Their main objective is to produce excellent content.


Manaui Media


Manaui Media Limited (MML) is a team of two, Lillian Arp and Koni Rairoa. Their vision is to preserve the cultures of Oceania through learning through their flagship project Tide Talk - a language learning app. They are initially focusing on helping to preserve and teach Maori and Pacific languages, but this technology will eventually have global application. They have backgrounds in people management, training (development and delivery), customer service, business and general geekiness which will allow them to get the job done.




SimplyFi is a team looking at using technology that will address the loaning process for lending and borrowing of items within museums. Their vision is to streamline this process for the benefit of all museums to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays and costs involved in the process. Their team came together in 2016 with a creative background producing advertising for small businesses. They feel this background will serve to benefit them in producing tech solutions for the GLAM industry.


Vaka Interactiv


Vaka Interactiv is on a mission to connect people to culture. They strive to do this by developing interactive technology solutions that create meaningful connections between exhibition visitors and the exhibition featured. The four co-founders are proud South Auckland based, Maori and Pasifika entrepreneurs who aim to accelerate Vaka Interactiv from startup to scale up. Their primary goal is found in building a global business that is fuelled by market disruption and innovation.


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The Pacific Business Trust is a 'not for profit' Charitable Trust set up in 1985, providing economic development services for Pacific Businesses and Business People within New Zealand.