National | Business

Businessman named to influential Māori 40 Under 40 university list

Tamati Rakena is the founder of Taiao Clothing and Tahunakura Charitable Trust, which supports Northland students into tertiary education.

And now he's a member of  an exclusive club,

Rakena hails from Mitimiti and his business is based in Kaikohe.

Thus week he was named as a member of an exclusive 40 Under 40 list of influential Māori who graduated from the University of Auckland.

"I was taken by surprise! I'm not even 40 years old yet," Rakena says.

The annual list recognises graduates who have achieved exceptional success within their field and made a significant community impact while in their 20s or 30s.

The 40 Under 40 list recognises graduates in the categories of business leaders, influencers, performers, entrepreneurs, humanitarians and disruptors and innovators.

Rakena's whānau business, Taiao Clothing and Tahunakura Charitable Trust, aims to help provide a pathway for the youth in Northland to gain an education and employment.

Taiao Clothing / Source My Taiao

Now he's taking on a new challenge to back the New Zealand wool industry because synthetic clothing is not sustainable.

“If people dispose of the clothing it gets dissolved by the land. So it returns to where it belongs, which to me is thinking sustainably.”

As world leaders reach their final day to tackle climate issues at COP-26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Rakena is looking at wool products for his brand.

He supports sheep farming but some of its practices must change, he says.

Other outstanding Māori graduates to have been selected for this year’s list include:

  • Marcia Hopa - (Ngāpuhi, Waikato and Ngāti Whātua), Māori businesswoman, television presenter and kapa haka leader.
  • Cat Ruka - (Ngāpuhi, Waitaha), the first Māori woman executive director of Auckland's Basement Theatre.
  • Te Aopare Dewes - (Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Rangitihi iwi), who is a partner at law firm Chapman Tripp and leads Māori legal group Te Waka Ture; and
  • Shilo Kino - (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Maniopoto), an award-winning author with Huia publishers, a freelance columnist with Newsroom, the Guardian and the Spinoff
    and a news reporter at Marae.