National | Asia

Māori tertiary students creating business in Vietnam

A delegation of Māori tertiary students and tech business owners are set to fly to Vietnam for the Te Hononga-ā-Kiwa programme to build business relationships.  The key focus of this trip will be business development in start-up entrepreneurship and technology.

Casey Jacobs, creator of Poipoi Kākahu, was chosen for the trip.  She’s in her fifth year at The University of Waikato pursuing a Master of Arts in Tikanga Māori.

She hopes the new skills she will learn will during the trip will help her develop her clothing business.

"I created it out of wanting to get te reo Māori into homes through our pēpi and using words and ideas that show how our special our babies are."

Four Māori businesses are participating in the programme and will be matched with students to complete a project that will progress business aspirations within Southeast Asia.

Māori business owners taking part include Lee Timutimu of Arataki Systems, Jesse Armstrong of Vaka Interactiv, Kawana Wallace of myReo Studios and Jordan Tuhura of Maui Studios.

“At Vaka Interactiv we develop storytelling technology for museums, art galleries, cultural organisations to help bring those stories to life in magically compelling ways,” says Armstrong, of Ngāti Hine and Tainui.

“About 12 months ago we launched our first product which was culture lens and it's the world's first cultural storytelling portrait where we bring actual portrait characters to life, historical or fictional, and we have them tell their stories and interact with the audiences.”

Armstrong is looking forward to building connections with business people in Vietnam and hopes to build projects with new customers.

“And then on the other side, the major benefit is that we get to expose our world to the rangatahi that are coming with us,” says Armstrong.

Students will also participate in presentations and site visits across Vietnam, and learn from successful start-up businesses.

The group will leave on Saturday, August 23 for 11 days.

Delegation attending


  • Ella Boyd Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Commerce, University of Otago
  • Casey-Anne Jacob Master of Arts, University of Waikato
  • Suzanne Hepi Bachelor of Business, Massey University
  • Johannah Katene-Burge, Bachelor of Management Studies with Honours, University of Waikato
  • Keri O'Connell Masters of Digital Business, University of Waikato
  • Celeste Rakena Bachelor of Management Studies/Bachelor of Laws, University of Waikato
  • Cale Silich Bachelor of Laws, University of Auckland
  • Erana Matene Bachelor of Business, University of Waikato
  • Queenisha Davis Bachelor of Management Studies, University of Waikato
  • Sidney-Rei Stoneham Bachelors of Business Analysis, University of Waikato
  • Lionel Anderson Masters of Business Administration, University of Auckland
  • Kahui Tihore Bachelor of Commerce, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Esther Bacon Bachelor of Business, University of Waikato
  • Lyric Te Marino Bird Masters of Business, University of Otago


  • Lee Timutimu, CEO - Arataki Ventures
  • Jesse Armstrong, CEO - Vaka Interactive
  • Jordan Tuhura, Projects Manager - Maui Studios
  • Kawana Wallace, CEO - myReo Studios