Maori entrepreneurs gather

By David Porter

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Hemi Rolleston said more than 200 people had already registered for the event.
Hemi Rolleston said more than 200 people had already registered for the event.

Callaghan Innovation's second Maori Inspire Event Matariki X will be held in Rotorua this Saturday.

Hemi Rolleston, Callaghan Innovation's general manager Maori economy, said more than 200 people had already registered for the event, which aims to bring together ambitious, innovation-minded Maori entrepreneurs from across the country, plus selected rangatahi.

There are 14 confirmed speakers, including a number with strong Bay of Plenty connections, taking part. Matariki X's goal is to explore the importance and role of innovation and the opportunities it will bring to the Maori economy.

"We ran the first event in Auckland a year ago to get some of the most successful Maori companies and people to inspire others to go to the next level," said Mr Rolleston.

"This year's event is about drilling down. There is a big push towards the regions from government and the Maori economy in particular is significantly based in the regions. "

The theme is Innovation, Inspiration and Overcoming Failure, said Mr Rolleston, who originally hails from Rotorua.

"If we get the right people on the stage and in the audience we will have a recipe for a lot of potential connections and inspiration," he said.

Networking will be encouraged by providing an app to all attendees that will allow them to connect with everyone taking part.

Mr Rolleston said the format would be similar to a TEDx event. Speakers would be grouped onto three panels with each speaker limited to 15 minutes, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.

The idea was for successful Maori to share the stories of their success and also the challenges they had encountered on their innovation journey to explore the unknown and take their business to the next level.

The speakers come from a variety of educational and social backgrounds, but shared a passionate attitude and a doggedness to overcome the challenges put it in front of them, said Mr Rolleston. Another key theme would be technology.

Steve Saunders, managing director of BOP-based Plus Group, who will talk about the agri-tech work his company is doing in robotics, said he and his fellow panelists would be discussing "the good, the bad and the ugly" of their journeys.

"From my perspective it's an important part of Maori development to get them involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem."

Maori Inspire Event Matariki X:

* When: Saturday, June 11, 2016, from 9am to 5pm.

* Where: Novotel Rotorua Lakeside

* Registration fee: $100

- Rotorua Daily Post

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