Sixty New Zealand youths have a greater appreciation for mātauranga Māori in business after attending the Entrepreneurs in Action workshop in Wellington at the weekend.

Entrepreneurs in Action (EIA) is an extension of the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) – a programme supporting students to set up and run a real business. They're also encouraged to bring their own product or service to market and it's geared towards year 12 and 13 students with a keen interest in business.

Meanwhile, the national prize pool of $20,000 entices about 4,700 students to participate every year.

Successful applicants

EIA students from 53 different schools across NZ were narrowed down to 125 successful applicants.

The focus of this year’s event was strongly centred around te ao Māori, with groups of rangatahi (youth) needing to complete two business challenges: “Pūrakau Challenge” and “Aotearoa ki te Ao Challenge”.

Young Enterprise NZ's chief executive, Terry Shubkin, said she wanted the students to start thinking about how Māori culture is a positive differentiator in business both within Aotearoa NZ and globally.

Minister for economic development Barbara Edmonds spoke to the students and referenced the importance of Māori culture. She said te ao Māori was being highlighted during prime minister Chris Hipkins' trade delegate trip to China. 

Students embraced te ao Māori as Aotearoa’s ‘superpower’ through the challenges that were set. They presented innovative solutions in a way that honoured and respected this, Shubkin said.

She is committed to increasingly focusing on and weaving te ao Māori into YES.

“We asked our good friends at NZ Māori Tourism to set the challenge for us and worked with them to craft the final wording. They were the ones that came up with the idea of creating a challenge around Pūkārau.”

Pūrākau Māori are traditional stories from the Māori culture. The students pitched their ideas for new businesses that blended pūrākau with contemporary business, she said.


Shubkin said she was constantly inspired by the way young people engage with diverse cultures and ideas to make the world a better place.

Team Creative HQ won after impressing the judges with their journal, ‘He aha taku korero’. It aimed to empower rangatahi to become more aware of what is happening inside and around them.

The second challenge was thinking about an export company, but the idea was they would take the lessons from the first challenge into the second, Shubkin said.

Team Creative HQ also won ‘Aotearoa ki te Ao Challenge’ led by Te Taurapa Tūhono (NZTE).

Every EIA participant received a $1,000 Massey University scholarship, and because Team Creative HQ won both challenges, they received an additional $6,000 in scholarships each.

Shubkin said her team went in knowing that all of the students would be at a different place, both in terms of their understanding and their comfort level with te ao Māori.

“Rangatahi embraced this much better than people who might be two or three times as old as them.  

“So, we made sure we had a number of cultural mentors available to make sure that everyone felt safe with this challenge and had the opportunity to explore this challenge thoroughly.”

EIA is one of the highlights of her year, she said.

“Our students start as strangers, and spend their weekend building connections and solving problems with solutions we would never have dreamed of.”