Psychoactive Helping to Harness the Power of Community for Small Māori Businesses

Nov 3, 2020
5 Minutes
Members of the Te Puni Kokiri cadetship programme walking down the street
As a small business it’s cool knowing we can help Māori grow in the digital tech industry, says the founder of a Wellington digital design agency. "The Te Puni Kōkiri Cadetship is a massive opportunity."

In the post-COVID 19 economy, small business owners with their sights on the future are recognising the value of collaboration. Through the Te Puni Kōkiri Cadetship programme, three creative companies are sharing their baskets of knowledge, so their kaimahi and businesses can thrive. Watch this video about their collaboration.

Andrew Hillstead founded Psychoactive Studios digital design agency to create beautiful, interactive, user friendly web products and experiences. He is now teaming up with cultural storytelling tech company VAKA and cultural photography business Soldiers Rd Portraits. All three are on the brink of big, bold expansion.

Find out more about Vaka’s basket of knowledge.

Find out more about Soldiers Rd’s basket of knowledge.

Psychoactive studio and Vaka's logos

Two heads better than one

Psychoactive Studios has shared its bright and airy office space on Wellington’s Cuba Street with VAKA for two years. The working relationship is soaring to new heights as the two company directors come together as mentor and cadet. Andrew is helping to develop Jesse Armstrong (Ngāti Hine, Waikato-Tainui) co-founder of VAKA, to ramp up his business for global growth.

Te Puni Kōkiri Cadetships support employers to develop Māori employees of any age and at any stage of their career, so they can extend their skills and grow as leaders. Digital and media business is just one example of the target industries Te Puni Kōkiri is actively encouraging Māori involvement in. These are based on forecasted growth areas post COVID-19.

Knowledge is community

Andrew isn’t the only one doing the mentoring. Jesse himself is helping one of Andrew’s kaimahi Māori to reach new heights as well.

“We want to connect Jesse with my employee Callum Mudgway to create a supportive environment where he can grow. Callum’s an amazing designer. He now needs to be able to stand with mana and strength to present and work with clients every day,” says Andrew.

Under Jesse’s guidance, Callum (Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāi Tahu) is building his communication and leadership capabilities.

“Jesse is such an intelligent dude. Who knows where I'd even find someone like that? I can pick the top tech industry minds and Māori entrepreneurship leaders. He’s also helping me improve my reo and will introduce me to some of his Māori networks,” says Callum.

The benefits flow from Callum to the whole business believes Andrew. The Cadetship will help Psychoactive Studios’ culture and diversity to grow.

“We work with a lot of Māori companies and organisations, having Callum and Jesse in this space, will really help us connect better to

Digital skills to reclaim Māori imagery

At the same time, Andrew is sharing his web skills with the owners of cultural portrait photography business, Soldiers Rd Portraits.

For nearly eight years, sisters-in-law Taaniko and Vienna Nordstrom have been styling customers in Māori regalia for indigenous inspired vintage portraits that plant a seed of cultural identity and integrity. The business is now preparing to expand nationwide.

“Andrew’s helping us to bring the visual side of our business to life in a way that will be perfect for expanding and telling our stories” explains Taaniko (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, Rongomaiwahine, Waikato-Tainui).

“He’s showing us how to update our website so that it's fresh, modern, showcases our work and gives people an idea of what we do at a glance,” agrees Vienna (Ngāti Porou).

As Cadets, Taaniko and Vienna see Andrew’s support as crucial to helping them achieve their business goals.

Benefits to business owners

Andrew confirms that business owners interested in the Cadetship programme, like him, do not have to be Māori themselves. They just need to have Māori staff whose potential they want to develop.

“This is a collaboration between Māori businesses and non-Māori businesses who have Māori staff. We’re all trying to get into the community and encourage others to be part of this journey. We want to harness the strength that's out there and take Māori with us so that we can enable as many Māori businesses as possible to succeed”.

To find out more about the Cadetships programme contact Te Puni Kōkiri.