Taking te reo Māori home

13 September 2017

Te Reo jars

Nikki Kennedy's business is putting te reo Māori into homes.

As Aotearoa New Zealand celebrates Te Wiki o te reo Māori – New Zealand Māori Language Week – it has an extra special meaning for University of Waikato student Nikki Kennedy. It brings New Zealand one step closer to revitalising te reo Māori, her dream and the vision for her start-up business, Taputapu.

Nikki has always been passionate about te reo. So when the Creative and Media technologies student began to notice the absence of the language in modern homes, she decided something had to change. With the help of the University of Waikato Summer Start-Up Programme, Nikki launched Taputapu, a business specialising in designing te reo Māori homewares.

Her products include blocks, bags and jars, all designed with Māori labels to increase the use of te reo in everyday language. The business has been running successfully online since 2015, and regularly sells out of products.Following her online success, Nikki transitioned Taputapu to include in-store retail, currently supplying products to Hūmārie in Parnell and Ahu in Rotorua.

To celebrate Te Wiki o te reo Māori this year, Nikki has re-launched her products on her website, hoping to encourage other New Zealanders to join the movement to normalise te reo in conversation. Nikki began studying at the University of Waikato through the Te Tohu Paetahi programme, a one-year full immersion programme designed to produce students to speak te reo Māori fluently and competently. She made the most of Waikato’s flexible degree structure, completing a double major in Design Media and Te Reo Māori.

“The programme had a real whānau feel and made the transition to university a lot easier,” Nikky says. “It was a challenge moving from small classes to massive lecture halls with up to 80 students, but it was such a great experience once I got used to it. I also loved studying in two different faculties because it allowed me to meet a range of different students.”

Nikki immersed herself in all aspects of life at the University, deeming her involvement with different initiatives such as the Summer Start-Up Programme and the Te Āhurutanga Māori Student Leadership Programme her biggest highlights.

Since finishing her Bachelor of Media and Creative Technologies degree in June this year, Nikki has been working as a graphic designer for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. She plans to return to university to study a Master of Design to increase her credibility as a designer.

Her ultimate goal is to make Taputapu her full-time job and have her homewares in homes and offices across Aotearoa New Zealand.

With the largest pool of Māori academics in the world, the University of Waikato is looking forward to celebrating Te Wiki o te reo Māori – Māori Language Week.