Kōrero with Joelle Holland, Founder of Hawaiiki Pēpi

October 26, 2023
We caught up with Joelle Holland, owner and founder of Hawaiiki Pēpi for a kōrero about the whakapapa of her self-funded pakihi selling products for pēpi and the 'why' behind their kaupapa.

Kia ora Joelle, thank you for taking the time to kōrero with us. Ko wai koe nō hea koe?

I am a  26-year-old wahine Māori, born and raised in South Auckland. I have recently graduated with my Bachelor of Teaching degree (Te Aho Tātairangi -  Kura Kaupapa Māori). I am a māmā to two beautiful pepi, Ivy-āio and Ryda Hawaiki. As a wahine Māori and māmā, the two most important parts of my life came together to create Hawaiiki Pēpi. I am extremely passionate about my culture, my language and my people.

“Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori."

The language is the life force of the mana Māori.

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You’re the founder of Hawaiiki Pēpi. Can you tell us about your pakihi?

Hawaiiki Pēpi is a Māori-owned pakihi that creates Māori-designed products for pēpi. We aim to enhance identity, whakapapa, and pepeha through our products and in turn create strong, confident and proud Māori.

The name Hawaiiki derives from my youngest son, Ryda Hawaiiki and is also the place in which our Māori people came from and where we go after death.

What products do you currently stock?

Our Aio Minkys are thick polyester blankets, double-sided and made of the softest Minky fabric. Our 100% knitted cotton paraikete are named Niho, an adaption of the Niho taniwha design. Our Aio dummy clips are another stylish addition to our product list and are one of a kind. We have recently launched our playmats, named 'Te Kotahitanga' and 'Tauranganui' after my Nanny Barby and Koro Pipe’s marae in Te Puaha o Waikato. Extra special because both are no longer here with us and they hold a special place in my heart. I pay tribute to where I come from.

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Our pakihi has thrived since our opening five months ago - our accomplishments to date include:

  • We are now an established company - huro!
  • We are now GST registered!
  • We have made well over 1000 sales in the last five months!
  • We had our first stall at the Tainui Regatta.
  • Ngāti Whātua Pēpi packs (we provide pēpi blankets for Ngāti Whātua pēpi packs) - we have received our first bulk order of 40 x blankets and are about to start putting together our next bulk of 100 x paraikete.
  • We have received back end funding for our pakihi from Whai Rawa - Ngāi Tahu in their Pakihi Toolkit.

Our designs exemplify Māori culture and is a reflection of the many and varied special qualities inherent in our babies during the fusion of spirit and body at conception.

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If you don’t mind sharing, how did you raise the pūtea to start your pakihi?

My tāne and I had been saving to buy our first home, this meant missing out on things our peers were doing e.g. spending money wisely and always buying 'needs' and never 'wants'. Ultimately, being as financially strict as possible. We decided to take a risk and go all in for our pakihi financially, making this one of the most important decisions of our lives.

You’re a māmā to two beautiful pēpi. How do you juggle your commitment to whānau with growing your pakihi? We say juggle because ‘balance’ often isn’t realistic!

Being a māmā will always come first for me, however, balance for me is working a full-time day job, spending time with my pēpi immediately after work, making tea for the whānau, bathing pēpi, putting pēpi to sleep and working on the pakihi late into the night and sometimes early hours of the morning. I don't see this being the long-term norm, however a necessity for the short-term to allow me to meet the needs of both my pēpi and pakihi.  

What keeps you going?

Customer photos, beautiful messages about reconnection with te ao Māori, reconnection with te reo Māori. These messages fill my heart and make me feel like I’m making a difference. Every like, comment and share, and all words of support never ever go unnoticed. I believe in every single one of you and pray that our pakihi helps you to see your true potential as Māori and stand true in your identity.

You offer Afterpay and Laybuy for your customers. What was the thinking behind having that offering and how integral is it to your sales?

Afterpay and Laybuy are integral to sales because it is a means of payment familiar to most. It allows for those who don't have ready cash on hand to purchase our products when and if they choose. In keeping in line with the digital economy, Afterpay and Laybuy is a must.

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What is a challenge you are currently facing in your pakihi and how are you working through it?

Currently we are working on keeping our products in stock as they sell out within a few weeks of launching and it takes up to three months to restock.  

Don’t give up on yours dreams! Me manawa tītī, KARAWHIUA!

Where can our Whāriki whānau find Hawaiiki Pēpi to shop and stay up to date with your new releases ?

Shop via our website and follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

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