Thrive Manawatū

Kia Puāwai te Pitomata – Growing Potential to Fruition

Thrive Manawatū was a programme for people to explore how to start a social enterprise or for-purpose business designed to improve their community. The programme ran from February 2016, and the June expo was its conclusion.

This programme was specially designed for Manawatū, Horowhenua and Tararua communities and was a partnership between the Ākina Foundation and Te Tihi o Ruahine Whānau Ora alliance of eight iwi, hapū and Māori organisations, supported by New Zealand Post and Kiwibank. Ākina lead the programme design and co-facilitated workshops alongside Te Tihi.

Meet the participants

Justin Tane

justinJustin wanted to help parents share Māori heritage with the next generation through Māori soft toys. Justin’s next step was to run a crowdfunding campaign to raise money and take pre-orders for his first run of toys.

“I really want Māori tamariki to have toys that represent and make them proud of who they are. ”

Kiesha Dais

Kiesha was looking to create opportunities for teen mums to become the best versions of themselves. She hoped to create a resource and tool to allow young mums to focus on goal setting and to learn valuable life skills.

“I believe that life is what you make it and we can all achieve mauri ora by knowing what opportunities and supports are available within our community.”

Kelly Tahiwi

Kelly is a trustee of Horowhenua Lake Trust who wanted to create opportunities using waste, especially from food and lake weed, turning this into compost and energy.

“I want to support our hapū and iwi, build up our resources and upskill our people to support other projects.”


Warren & Virginia Warbrick

Warren is tohunga whakairo for Rangitāne ki Manawatū. He is an artist, historian, revered nga taonga pūoro maker/player. His project was to run a series of workshops and/or noho marae for rangatahi focused on a range of traditional Māori artforms.

“I look forward to finding out how to make my project ongoing and sustainable.”

Sillena McGregor

Sillena was looking to set up beehives on her whānau blocks to produce honey. The goal was to create employment opportunities and income to support the development of other initiatives.

“I am committed to projects and opportunities that will benefit our people.”

Gary Rakatau

Music had been Gary’s passion for many years. He had seen how music can change the lives of Rangatahi through teaching them good learning ethics, discipline and creativity.

“I want to support our hapū and iwi, build up our resources and upskill our people to support other projects.”


Chrissy Paul

Chrissy hoped to develop a social enterprise that provides an opportunity for the community and individuals to create their own enterprise.

“Thrive opened up a new sustainability avenue for our group, it’s not just about being reliant on funding but showing examples for setting up business as a community and being able to do it for themselves.”

Leon Tahana

Leon joined Thrive to learn new concepts he could take into creating his own business, with a focus on making an impact on Maori communities in the health and well-being space.

“Thrive has been good for helping me structure the process of business, showing us what’s out there for Hauora that has the capacity for social impact.”

Paora Johanson

Paora was addressing the inequities in Māori social, educational and health statistics while showcasing the amazing richness of Māori culture to the world.

“Thrive has been a real asset to the development of my enterprise in terms of planning, resources, administration and the myriad of social issues that exist within the aspirations of my enterprise.”

Mark Te Whaiti

Mark wished to address health inequalities, conditions and forming healthy habits to the individual, whanau and extended whanau. He offered the solution of providing a personable one on one service, or by working in small groups.

“My goal is to provide continued education and support to both present and future whanau.”

Corey Skipper

Corey has a background in butchery and wanted to use this to run programmes that will give Rangatahi the skills to become active on the marae and take those learnings into their everyday lives.

“Thrive has given me other ways to think about how I can do this and make an impact for whānau.”

Charlene Kihi

Charlene hoped to start a consultancy type enterprise that will provide services for whanau, hapū, Iwi and the wider community to support Tamariki that have experienced family violence/separation in their lives.

“Kids missed or lost in the systems need someone to connect the dots and empower them to get through the trauma of separation and family violence.”



For more information about Thrive Manawatū or any of our other past programmes, please contact the Ākina Foundation at