Paully and Jessica Rawiri own Samāori and this week they're selling special Te Wiki o te Reo Māori coffee and tea products (Photos: Supplied)

Take your kawhe with a spoonful of te reo

E-commerce market Konei is showcasing local entrepreneurs, including a Māori-Sāmoan collaboration that combines te reo, coffee and chocolate into a delicious learning experience. 

He kawhe māu? Aē, koa! (Want a coffee? Yes, please!)

Enjoying a coffee with a dollop of te reo just got a bit easier this week thanks to a pair of South Auckland social enterprises.

Konei is an e-commerce site set up to support New Zealand brands and entrepreneurs, which has teamed up with Samāori to sell a special range of kawhe and tiakarete designed with packaging to help customers incorporate te reo into their everyday lives. 

The founder of Konei, Manawa Udy, says she first came across the Samāori products through a Christmas pop-up store her team was running at their co-working and event space Te Haa o Manukau.

“Samāori were one of the first to jump on Konei,” she says. “I use her coffee all the time but I think beyond people liking their products and saying how tasty it is, is that people like using products from Sāmoa that are investing back into Sāmoa.”

From left, Konei manager Amanda Kirkwood, Samāori founder Jessica Rawiri, Ngahere Foundation’s Mel Tautalanoa and Konei founder Manawa Udy (Photo: Supplied)

Jessica and Paully Rawiri started Samāori three years ago as a coffee cart business and it has since grown into a corporate events catering company that also sells a range of coffee and chocolate products, all sourced from Jessica’s homeland of Sāmoa. Jessica’s husband Paully is of Ngāti Paoa descent and for both of them, it was really important to do something that marked Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. 

“For our business we’ve always used Māori in our menus,” she says. “In our home, there’s lots of short phrases thrown around in both Māori and Sāmoan, and what’s good about Māori Language Week is that for one week we can focus on the language a bit more. For our kids, it’s about them knowing their identity and helping them to be brave to use it with their friends and family.”

Rawiri says while being competitive is a big feature in running a business, they are all about supporting and building up other local entrepreneurs.  

“The team at Konei are the same as us, they are all about collaboration. We’re growing, they’re growing, and together we can grow further.”

Udy says Konei was born out of the need to provide local entrepreneurs a space to engage with customers in a rapidly digital marketplace. 

“We know there is heaps of talent out there, particularly with our Māori and Pasifika people. But alongside that, we could see a real need for business support and development, particularly in terms of marketing and customer engagement. And then along came Covid and the resurgence of supporting local, and we could see there was an opportunity to enable a really good local shopping experience to happen at scale across Aotearoa.”

Udy says Konei provides lots of small businesses a place to market their products, while ensuring shoppers don’t have to visit a range of different websites to support a variety of Kiwi-owned enterprises. “Before we started Konei, all you could find was directories which still required you to be redirected to other stores, whereas Konei brings it all together – you can shop for as many brands as you want, all under the one transaction, which really makes it easier for the shopper.”

Udy says it wouldn’t have been possible without support from council-controlled organisation Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed), which has helped with the running of Te Haa o Manukau. “Ateed enabled us over time to gain these insights and work out where the needs are, and with this, Ateed came on board and gave us some funding to get the platform developed.”

Ateed’s Pam Ford says the CCO is committed to supporting South Auckland’s talented creative and entrepreneurial communities.

“Manawa has been a driving force behind showcasing South Auckland entrepreneurs and their products. This year has shown us that access to digital marketplaces and e-commerce know-how is critical for our entrepreneurs and businesses, as is supporting local, and we’re glad to be able to help initiatives like Konei.”

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