Brought up in a Māori household, young entrepreneur Tī Karohia-te-mārama Hēnare started her customised poi selling business to teach the Tikanga of poi and other Māori taonga.
Henare is a year 13 student and head girl at Te Kāpehu Whetū.
While she started the business HAKA tuku-iho as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) programme, the 17-year-old wishes to continue and work on it even after school. Henare hopes to expand her product range and other Kapa Haka products too.
She has made over 100 poi so far.
Henare said Kapa Haka played a big role in the growth of her language and beliefs.
"My father introduced the language to me at a very young age and I learnt most of Tikanga (customs and traditional values) and Te Reo through Kapa Haka.
"I make poi and when I sell it, I teach Tikanga around poi and other Māori taonga. I explain the names of different parts of the theatrical prop, such as the pōro (ball), taura (chord) and hukahuka (tassel).
"Those are the crucial elements and the Tikanga needs to be shared more.
"I also attach a card along with it, highlighting how to look after the poi."
Henare said she started her business from scratch when her whānau donated raw material to make poi.
"My sister taught me how to make poi. I helped her to make it for senior Kapa Haka groups and thereby getting the first-hand experience to do that.
"Since I already had the knowledge of making poi, I thought I could make it into a business."
Henare said it was important to remember the significance of poi because people believed it was only for women.
"There has been a lot of debate about it being specifically for women when in the past it was actually used by men and that is the one belief I want to share and expand.
"Social media helps me a lot and that is a top medium for me to make a sale."
Te Reo helped the young entrepreneur through the connections with her whānau, said Henare.
"They have the knowledge of Te Reo Māori and poi and I have access to that Tikanga, which makes it easier. I have also learnt many things on my own since working on this business.
"So, I am not just teaching Tikanga, but I am also gaining, learning and flourishing through it."
Being able to present herself as Māori and also because she had tipuna who were Pakeha, the bilingual unit taught her to accept her pakeha side as well, said Henare.
"The preservation of Te Reo is important to me because of my whakapapa.
"I have tipuna who have fought very hard, my father Tātai Henare is a full-time Māori teacher who also teaches kapa haka, my grandfather was one of the 12 apostles for the Kīngitanga, and my great grandfather Ta Hemi Henare (James Clendon Tau) fought for our Reo to be spoken and kohanga to be started.
"For me, it is just to respect the hard work my tipuna have done and honour my father, grandfather and great grandfather. It is because of them that I am able to speak my language today."