Enhancing Māori Culture
Revitalising the art of poi. I have grown up from a very early age watching my mum studying, researching and teaching Hauora Māori. She has taught me the importance of combining relationships and knowledge. Understanding the facts or details without having a connection or relationship with the kaupapa, is pointless. So to ensure we really are connected to our product, we have done our research.
Mum and I were so privileged to have met up with the beautiful Rachel Wesley from the Otago Museum to look at a small range of poi when we first started out. This experience has helped us decide on a unique design for our taura (cords) and hukahuka (tassels). It has also helped me to encourage people to buy the right size taura (cord), as I feel it is really important that we use our poi as they were created to be used. The sound the upoko (head) makes depends on the weight and covering. It is important to know how to get the right sound and create a rhythm, not just to simply spin a poi. I am passionate about reteaching the art of poi, as originally as I can.
For the last few years, Mum and I have been completely in love with watching 'Call the Midwife' every Friday night. My absolute favourite character has to be Reggie. I have never personally known anyone with Down Syndrome, until January 2019 when my little brother was born. The day he arrived, Mum knew she was booked in for a C-section early in the morning, but I really wanted to attend a pōwhiri with my classmates in Murihiku (Invercargill). I begged her to let me go, and assured her I would come straight to the hospital as soon as we returned to Ōtepoti.
When I finally made it to her room, mum handed me my baby brother and I starred down at him, instantly in love, then she casually said, "this is Api, Georgia, the doctors think he may have Down Syndrome". To which I replied, "Oh wow, does he? Really? That is so cool!" I know my mum and she knows me, we quickly re-named his syndrome Api-Syndrome, thinking it sounded a lot more positive than being down.
Api turned 4 months old about the same time I dreamt up Pōtiki Poi, and he has been such an inspiration behind my business. I love all my siblings, but I seriously can't wait to see how amazing my baby brother will be when he grows up. For the future sustainability of my business we are employing those with diverse abilities to work for us, with the hope that some day Api might be able to continue my dream and run the business himself.
Making Eco-Friendly Poi
Some afternoons mum picks up my siblings and I up after kura (school), we grab some afternoon tea and then we head to a series of Op-Shops around Ōtepoti. Although I often roll my eyes as I can see that we could take ages, I am also super proud of my mum for her passion in finding great materials and resources that make our poi so unique.
One of the core values that underpins our business is the desire to ensure that our products do not add to our global waste problems. I am the next generation and I need to make a difference now for papatūānuku (earth mother). I have decided to use as much re-purposed or up-cycled materials as I can. We are now taking peoples wool or fabric wastage and creating some beautiful poi.
When I was in the Otago Daily Times recently, I mentioned that black wool was a struggle to find, and that we were happy to take any wool we could get, if people had any unwanted leftovers. Almost days after the article was on the front page, we had a number of awesome people approach us, offering us wool. We have been so thankful. We have also got a fantastic relationship with Stitch Kitchen and are proud to access a range of materials from their swap shop.