Tucked away in the old Mount Maunganui Police Station is a hidden treasure that's the first of its kind in Tauranga Moana.

"A lot of people have come in still thinking it's the police station," said owner Marcia Taikato-Whauwhau. "But they like the fact this is here and they've never seen anything like it."

Māori at the Mount is Tauranga's first mahi toi store, featuring artworks by local Māori artists.

"I think it's important for our people to be able to get in there and be able to sell their mahi toi if they choose to.


"We had nothing like this in Tauranga except for tourist shops [selling goods] that are made in China. It's a bit of an audacity for tourists to be buying things that aren't even made in New Zealand, so that's what the whole idea was."

Taikato-Whauwhau is a full-time youth worker and approached Ngāti Rangi iwi with her idea, opening up the shop in January.

"Mahi toi is Māori-made art - weaving, carving ... we also do rongoā, which is Māori medicine. We do Māori-made rocks and korowai."

When Taikato-Whauwhau isn't at the store, she's advocating for the homeless as one of the co-founders of Tauranga's first women's shelter, Awhina House.

"Tania rung and she said 'mate, I got an idea'. There was a hole there. There was nothing for women. We have emergency housing, we have a place for our men, but we didn't have a place for our women to be safe.

"I came from the other side of the tracks, so I was brought up in a good home. We never had to struggle. I had everything that I needed growing up so I suppose it's just compassion for others."

But it's her new store which is especially close to her heart.

"Anything Māori means everything to me. I was brought up in a time where being Māori wasn't cool, but it is for kids now. But just to show them you can do whatever we want if you put your mind to it."


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