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Innovative indigenous thinking from Whakaaro Factory


A business established by young entrepreneur Ani-Oriwia Adds in 2013 is taking the world of indigenous design and digital communication by storm, using their craft as a way to enable their clients to tell stories from a uniquely Māori perspective.

CREATIVES: Some of the Whakaaro Factory team, from left Fiona Wilson, Noti Henare, Ani-Oriwia Adds, Te Rangiapia Wehipeihana, Georgia Gifford, Isabella Parkinson, Te Ihiroa Oranga Whenua and Seth Stewart. Absent: Aretha Ngawaka, Hape Ki Tūarangi Cook-Porter and Maddison Southey.

The company, Whakaaro Factory, recently moved into a new eco-friendly building on Katea Street in Riverbank Park, which houses Ani and her team of Māori born-and-bred creatives. The team includes 10 employees and six contractors.

The business started for Ani with a digital online CV, which she needed after graduating from Film School. She majored in documentary directing, which was creative, but certainly not in the field of design.

Clearly a leader, Ani attributes much of her skills to the elders of her iwi – Ngāti Tukorehe, Te Atiawa and Muaūpoko – and her parents: Dad Peter Adds based in Wellington and Mum Fiona Wilson at Ōtaki Beach.

“Many of my elders have been fighting for our culture to be seen and appreciated over many generations,” Ani says. “I was inspired by that and naturally grew up with those attributes and values.”

She’s taken those same virtues into Whakaaro Factory where the team of creatives and business experts ensure that te ao Māori is protected and enhanced throughout all business operations. Ani says she is committed to delivering services with a te ao Māori lens first, then applies the creative skills and experiences that have been learned to-date to bridge gaps that exist in society.

Another goal for the team at Whakaaro Factory is to help its clients (Māori and non-Māori) understand the beauty of the Māori culture.

Ani believes there are many opportunities to enhance other aspects of Māori culture that just need to be communicated differently in this day and age, to work out the best way to showcase the deeper essence of the culture.

Ani has brought the business from her home office to the new premises in Ōtaki for several reasons.

The first is that her iwi, hapu and whānau are here, this is home; secondly Ōtaki is what Ani describes as a progressive Māori hub creating the perfect fit for Whakaaro Factory’s business model and values; and lastly and by no means less important, Ani wanted the business to be accessible to local people, for employment and services, as well as government agencies and many other organisations. 

Ani wants Whakaaro Factory to continue to grow the opportunities that her iwi, hapu, marae, Māori enterprises, Te Wānanga o Raukawa, kura kaupapa and whānau have been doing for many years.

“We want to provide another pathway for employment for our whānau, support our rangatahi to grow in our industry and explore opportunities to work with like-minded Māori entrepreneurs here in Ōtaki,” she says.

Innovative indigenous thinking from Whakaaro Factory



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