A three-day MaiBiz workshop held at Wairarapa College yielded almost a dozen new business ideas and products among 130 students at the school and was the first of its kind in the region.

Wairarapa College deputy principal Pam Redpath said the workshop, which was funded through Maori Womens Development, enhanced the economics element of the school curriculum and was likely to be repeated.

There had been 130 Year 11 to Year 13 students involved over the three-day workshop, she said, which started last Wednesday and was led by business consultant and tutor Mark Douglas.

Student teams had been formed and Wairarapa business owners and entrepreneurs had been invited to judge each product and business ideas the teams presented. Student Dylan Walsh, 17, was part of a group that developed a bacon toaster as an innovation that "wouldn't just take part of a market but would fill the market".


The Year 13 student was looking to study commerce at university from next year and believed he had a "home advantage" as his mother, Stephanie Gundersen-Reid, was chief executive of both the Wairarapa and Manawatu chambers of commerce.

Other products and services that students developed included vegetarian WaiGrown heat 'n' eat meals that used only homegrown ingredients, a ReceiptMe app that kept track of purchases, expenditure and receipts.

The winning idea was a medical centre proposed by the Innovation Corporation team that envisaged one-stop shop health treatment for all-comers.

MWDI spokeswoman Kitty Bennett said the organisation was a unique "indigenous financial institution" formed by Maori women for the economic development of Maori women and their whanau. She said the organisation had a 20-year history of offering business starter loans and had often handled applicants who presented "without a business background". The group started business education workshops aimed at adults before finding "we should actually begin earlier with young students and open their eyes to the opportunities they could possibly have to become self-employed".

"Not everyone gets a job and not everyone gets employed. Sometimes you just have to employ yourself."

She was pleased the MWDI MaiBiz workshop had been finally rolled out in Wairarapa and said similar courses had been already run at colleges in Wellington, Wainuiomata, Taita, Naenae, and at Rotorua Girls' High School, and at numerous schools in Auckland.

A group of MVDI representatives from Wairarapa were there to hand out certificates to each of the teams and the presentation of medals to each member of the winning team.