Whether he's organising culturally focused educational trips for students or private adventures for wealthy tourists, Takurua (Tak) Mutu, 34, is an action man of business.

The Rotorua-based co-owner and director of tourism and event company MDA Experiences has won the University of Auckland Aotearoa Young Māori Business Leaders Award in recognition of his success.

Mutu realised his passion for the outdoors outweighed his desire to study more after completing university papers at high school.

Takurua (Tak) Mutu, and his partner Jayne, after receiving the award. Photo / Supplied
Takurua (Tak) Mutu, and his partner Jayne, after receiving the award. Photo / Supplied

He began his career in adventure tourism guiding rafts and sledges on New Zealand rivers.


After eights years working in the industry he found himself wanting more.

In 2009 Mutu bought into Multi-Day Adventures, now MDA Experiences, splitting his role between outdoor guiding and business growth and development.

In 2011 Tak and his brother, Tu, bought the company outright and began its expansion.

Fast-forward to 2019 and the business has increased from just three staff to 40, with three subsidiary companies to complement the brand, including Mountain Bike Rotorua.

The whānau-oriented business, with a strong focus on Māori culture, includes Tu, cousin Ariki, and high school friend Megan.

His partner Jayne, a teacher at Rotorua Intermediate School, supports his endeavours and from time to time will work in the business on their ventures in the education sector.

The couple are keen mountain bikers and say their 3-year-old daughter is fast becoming a fan, insisting on riding with Tak when he's off-road.

When Tak received the award on Friday night, he said he was truly humbled.


"An award of this prestige was something I never expected to receive and to be surrounded with such phenomenal people has definitely made this an inspiring experience".

Mutu is looking forward to continuing to grow with the people around him, working on brands with a strong social licence and providing positive benefits for the community and the environment.