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In 54 hours from ‘Imagine if’ to ‘Here’s how’

(Image: Startup Weekend 2023 "Imagine if..." full cohort)

“Imagine if we had alternative transport up and down the coast and the sea was the new SH35.” said Pane Kawhia.

“Imagine if we could learn to speak the reo through play, we had an app where you can learn your pepeha and produce it as a real book.” said HineAio Apatari.

“Imagine if we walked alongside 1000 dads for 1000 days to give their tamariki the best start in life.” said Tim Marshall.

Last weekend Tairāwhiti’s fifth Startup Weekend brought 35 participants on a journey from imagination to creation. On Friday night, 17 courageous people pitched an idea, by Sunday night six teams presented their fleshed out business concepts in front of a panel of judges.

The ideas were diverse, as you can see in the quotes above, as were the participants. Their ages ranged from 17 to 70; 60% identified as Māori, 31% as NZ European, and 7% as another ethnicity; 51% identified as male and 49% as female. What brought everyone together was the willingness to mahi hard, be open to learning and make a difference.

Teams validated their problems and solutions on Saturday and some even started to prototype products. Team Slash for Cash was out at the back of the school grounds lighting a fire (with permission) and burning slash in a bucket. By Sunday they were making biochar briquettes to show to the judges.

(Image: Team Slash for Cash making biochar. From left to right: Paul Te Kahu, Matene Maraki, Kyrah Dewes, Thabiso Mashaba, Pane Kawhia, HineAio Apatari.)

Meanwhile team Arohamai Funeral Homes had grown from three to six members and was scouting out properties. And Adriana was rollerskating around for her team's video on Gizzy on Wheels. Nexus Scholar had decorated their workspace with prototype slides and hand drawn graphs, it all looked very legit nerdy. The Creative Collaborators were outside doing jumping jacks with Colart Miles our mentor wrangler, as part of their creative process. And team DNA (Dads Need Awhi) was interviewing young dads and writing poetry for their final presentation.

Despite, or because of, all this madness, the teams pulled together on Sunday and all delivered tight presentations to our panel of judges: Annette Wehi, Te Pūoho Katene, Sam Holdsworth, Paul Naske. We took a bit of a different approach to our judging and prizes this year. All of the teams received thorough feedback from the judges and all of the teams are invited to access mentoring support after the weekend. That being said, there’s nothing like a bit of emotional release and a drumroll, so we wrapped up the night with the announcement of our honourable mention: DNA; third place: Nexus Scholar; runner up: Slash for Cash; and the winner of Startup Weekend Tairawhiti 2023: Arohamai Funeral Home.

What an amazing weekend it was. We are all on a buzz here at Tāiki e! Impact House. Pretty tired but vibing on the energy of the weekend. And full of gratitude to all the special people that make this weekend possible. Our facilitators, mentors, volunteers, judges, org team, sponsors, and most of all, our participants who bring the magic.

Ngā mihi nui.


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