Q&A with Maimoa Creative

Q&A with Maimoa Creative

In a nutshell, what is Maimoa Creative and how did it come to be?

Maimoa Creative is a Māori-owned brand based in Tauranga that is passionate about promoting the Māori language and culture through unique designs, products and resources. Our aim is to help normalise the use of te reo Māori in everyday life, empower tangata whenua to be proud of their māoritanga, and support learners on their journey. I started this little pakihi (business) in Jan 2019 to merge my design skills and passion to advocate te reo Māori. I had not long finished a one-year full-immersion te reo Māori language course, which was the beginning of my reclamation journey and reconnecting with my whakapapa.

You’ve created some beautiful products to help promote the Māori language and culture. What has been your favourite to design and bring to life?

It’s hard to pick, because there have been some really incredible opportunities, including collaboration projects with other like-minded businesses and creatives. One of my favs would have to be Kāri Māori, a Māori-inspired deck of beautifully illustrated playing cards. The product is the result of a collaboration between Maimoa Creative and Konei, where we worked with Jordyn Elise to create the illustrations. My role was vectorising and colouring all the line art, a process in which I went to my happy place fine tuning all the little details. The effort and love poured into this project are evident in the final product, and the positive feedback from customers, who treasure its uniqueness, has been truly heartwarming.

Can you share a favourite memory or milestone in your brand's journey so far?

The year I moved from ‘side-hustle’ to ‘full-time small business owner’ was a significant moment for me. It felt like very slow growth, but by the end of year two I was able to concentrate all my energy towards growing my pakihi to a point where I could contribute towards providing for my whānau, all while doing something that I love and am passionate about.

Do you have any favourite Māori words or phrases that hold special meaning for you?

I have a lot of whakataukī/whakatauākī (Māori proverbs) that hold a lot of significance to me, but the one that currently resonates with me is, "He reo hapa e taea te whakatika, he reo ngū e kore e taea" - Te Korou Whangataua “You can fix a language that has mistakes, but you can’t fix a language that is not spoken,” which is an encouragement to not let the fear of making a mistake prevent you from speaking te reo, learning, and growing.

What's one thing you wish more people knew about te reo Māori?

I wish more people were aware of the historical context of te reo Māori. Many negative attitudes toward the language and its associated culture stem from a simple lack of understanding about its history and the challenges it has faced. For many years, the language and its speakers endured significant suppression, resulting in generations, including my own, who now must undertake considerable effort to reclaim a vital part of our identity that was nearly lost. I believe understanding this history would foster greater respect and appreciation for te reo Māori and its significance to te iwi Māori, and to Aotearoa.

We recently printed the Parāoa Parai Tea Towel for you, tell us more about this famous recipe!

Yesss, one of our best sellers! Our illustrated fry bread recipe tea towel is a product that evolved quite organically. During Matariki, I shared a snippet of me making (delicious 🤤) fry bread on our insta stories. The response was overwhelming — so many people requested the recipe that I decided to share it, and it quickly went viral. The timing coincided with the second nationwide lockdown in Aotearoa, which likely fueled its popularity as everyone was home, bored and hungry 😅. Supermarkets started limiting supplies like oil and yeast — and I wouldn’t be surprised if the fry bread craze was a contributing factor 🤭. Amidst this buzz, a follower suggested turning the recipe into a tea towel, and I LOVED the idea. I pulled out my design tools, had the design printed by your awesome team, launched it, and the first batch sold out within days. It has since become a staple item in our online store, and our recipe is still shared far and wide.

What's the most rewarding part of running a brand focused on promoting the Māori language?

Hands down receiving messages from customers and followers who share how our content and/or products have inspired them to start or further their learning journey of te reo Māori. One follower shared, “Honestly, following you is what gave me the push to reconnect with my reo and enroll in a course. You’re doing amazing things with your work and I hope you realise that!” I like to save these types of messages as a source of comfort, clarity and confirmation for when I’m having a bad day or feeling a little lost. It gives me the warm and fuzzies every time! They also serve as a potent reminder that the insights and content I share have the ability to affect meaningful change in the lives of others.

What does the future look like for Maimoa Creative? 

I always struggle to answer the ‘where do you see yourself in 5-10 years’ type questions! While I am naturally a planner and organiser, my approach to my business has ironically been somewhat different. I tend to be more reactive, following my instincts and making adjustments to the course based on how certain initiatives are received. That being said, my overall goal is to create a highly recognised brand in the Māori language learning space that continues to create unique resources and content for beginners. I have had ‘develop a beginner reo Māori online course’ on the goal list for a couple years, so who knows, maybe one day it might just happen .

On a lighter note, what's your go-to way to unwind after a busy day of running a successful creative business?

Glass of red 🍷 and snuggled up to my tāne on the couch watching one of our series on Netflix. If it’s been a week of late nights (which I try and avoid at all costs, but sometimes it’s the only way I can catch up with mahi), then I will treat myself to a full body massage at Thai Touch.

Check out more of Aroha's inspiring mahi on the Maimoa Creative Instagram

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