Same Mana – Different Language
Three quarters of the Pacific Business Trust’s HATCH 2018 cohort content creating business No Six – (pictured from far left to right above as) Niko Meredith, Benji Timu and Hannah Teipo undertook four intense weeks of learning Mandarin at the National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei City Taiwan at the start of 2019. The trio became immersed in Taiwan’s indigenous culture and meeting indigenous people and business owners as part of the North Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPE) programme with a mind to expand.
The programme, which initially started in 2018 for Maori business students, expanded this year to include Pacific Kiva Business Scholars, with five being taken directly from our 2018 HATCH cohort.
“We knew the opportunity to go to Taiwan was business-related, so we said yes,” says Hannah, whose favourite part of the trip was meeting the indigenous people of Taiwan.
Niko and Benji agree, particularly as it yielded similarities between cultures which soon became a running theme and point of interest for the content creators.
“We had a saying while over there,” says Niko, “’Same Mana, different language’.
“This speaks to the ancestral connection shared between the Pacific and explains the sense of belonging we felt in Taiwan.”
While the group felt opportunities to make meaningful business connections were challenging, with the language difference providing some of those challenges, connecting with the others from the CAPE cohort fostered a sense of family.
It also helped having the other HATCH participants on board, too. For the business partners of No Six, they produced daily content which inadvertently opened up a few business opportunities.
It opened Hannah’s eyes and made her appreciative of the support No Six receives from organisations such as the Pacific Business Trust and programmes like HATCH.
“As a Pasifika business In New Zealand, I feel we have an upper hand because we’re from such a small population, but in Taiwan, trying to be a business with millions of people in such a dense area is quite inspiring,” she says.
“We’re very fortunate with the opportunities we have here in New Zealand, especially with PBT and programmes such as HATCH, which genuinely help our business.”
Benji says the constant affirmation of No Six’s value from PBT helped them step out of their comfort zone in a completely foreign country, and the business partners agree that HATCH helped them grow.
“Having that bit of business knowledge behind us helped us understand how opportunities arise, and how we should utilise them.”
Hannah adds that just by going through the HATCH programme left them in a better position on the trip when it came to talking about their business.
“Hatch was really good in that it validated our ideas and enabled us to communicate them.”
One particular indigenous business which stood out to Hannah and Niko was Hbun: Indigenous Lifestyle.
“He makes sustainable products from just natural materials and resources in Taiwan and I thought that was the coolest,” says Hannah.
“It was cool to see an indigenous business monetise on their culture and way of life, instead of foreigners misappropriating their traditions.”
What they all agreed on was the CAPE trip and programme, while intense, allowed them to return with the same Mana they initially went to Taiwan with, as well as bringing more opportunities through the acquisition of a different language.
Check out some of the content No Six were able to create while on the exchange: