Navigating Entrepreneurship and Māori Marketing: Insights from ATA

Matt Pryor
March 25, 2024
In the world of entrepreneurship, there are stories that inspire, motivate, and offer invaluable insights into the journey of starting and growing a business. Kiriana Eparaima-Hautapu (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Porou), co-founder of ATA, a Māori social media agency, shares her experiences, challenges, and wins in carving a niche in the dynamic world of marketing while championing te reo Māori.

Embracing an Entrepreneurial Spirit

This story captures the mauri of identity and heritage, which underpins the journey of Kiriana and her partner Sonny Ngatai (Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāi Tahu) as they embarked on their entrepreneurial venture with ATA. The decision to transition from traditional employment to launching their own pakihi stemmed from a growing demand for Māori communications specialists. They used their expertise to empower more businesses with culturally sensitive communications while embracing their linguistic heritage.

Kiriana and her partner and co-founder Sonny at the ATA tari

Overcoming Challenges, Celebrating Milestones

Starting a new business comes with its fair share of challenges. For Kiriana and Sonny, one of the pivotal moments was hiring their first kaimahi. Despite the initial uncertainties, they recognised the importance of taking calculated risks to fuel growth. Within a year, their leap of faith bore fruit as they expanded their team, setting a solid foundation for future endeavors.

Reflecting on their hīkoi, Kiriana emphasises the significance of whanaungatanga - a testament to the power of mahi tahi and community support.

Navigating Marketing in the Digital Age

In today's digital landscape, marketing has evolved into a multifaceted industry. Kiriana advocates for a holistic approach to social media marketing rooted in whanaungatanga. Beyond metrics like ROI and clicks, she emphasises the importance of authenticity and brand building - a sentiment echoed in ATA's own journey.

Championing Te Reo Māori

At the heart of ATA's mission lies a commitment to championing te reo Māori. Kiriana emphasises the evolving importance of embracing indigenous languages and cultures, particularly in marketing. As businesses strive to integrate te reo Māori into their communications, she stresses the importance of meticulous translation processes, and the need for authenticity and cultural sensitivity.

ATA's Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori work is a career highlight for Kiriana

Highlighting Success: The Māori Language Moment

Among the numerous campaigns ATA has spearheaded, Kiriana says the Māori Language Moment was a career highlight. Collaborating with Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori and For Purpose, they transformed Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori celebrations into a digital phenomenon, achieving over a million sign-ups. This success, she notes, was a collective effort, innovative approach, and unwavering commitment to promoting te reo Māori.

Kiriana's journey with ATA demonstrates a spirit of entrepreneurship intertwined with cultural advocacy. As businesses navigate the complexities of marketing in a diverse world, her insights serve as a guiding light, illuminating the path towards authenticity, inclusivity, and success.

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