Te Orokohanga (the beginning)

June 2021

As a wahine in business, I am proud of the journey and everything I have learnt so far. It's been great to grow, connect, and share my ideas and passion with others.

For those who are new to the Taputapu whānau, I'd like to share my journey with you, and how Taputapu was birthed.

I started Taputapu from a desk in my bedroom while studying and boarding with friends. The idea came to me one day as I sat in our lounge one day, discussing the absence of Maori language within modern homes. The idea of having our Reo on homewares to increase everyday use of words would be an amazing start for all of us who are second language learners in Te Reo.

When I came up with the idea, my university had just come up with a Summer Start-up programme scholarship grant of $5000, which I applied for with my idea and successfully received, along with mentoring and workshops to help me with starting a business or project.

I remember the late nights in the garage packing orders with whānau help, studying during the week and learning quickly as I went along. The humble beginnings I reflect upon always make me so proud of how far we've come.

When I started Taputapu, the brand elements aligned quickly. The idea, the name, and the logo happened within a night. It resonated with me so much. Our logo has become our identity, marker, and our audience recognizes our logo.

Taputapu in English means utensils, equipment, products, tools etc. So when I decided on the name Taputapu for my business, I felt it encompassed our objective of making Māori homeware while allowing the business to grow and expand into other areas if needed.

Our logo represents our mission of getting Te Reo Māori into homes. The circle represents vision, the whare represents homes, the placement of the word Taputapu focuses on our business name, and focuses on Te Reo Māori. The black and white colours gave our brand a minimalistic feel, keeping it simple.

Our first products were glass Kitchen Drink Cannisters - Tī, Kawhe, Huka and Mairō clip top jars and it was great for second language learners. We had the kupu Māori, the kupu Pākehā, and an example of how to pronounce the word and then a sentence of how to use that kupu. I had feedback from a customer who said they loved those jars. She'd encourage her girls to make the cuppa teas and ask them to use Te Reo Māori.

I would print the labels out, cut, wet and then apply them onto the glass. The jars were baked in the oven and then packed into boxes. The process was long and tedious. Over the years, our jars went from glass, ceramic, tin and most recently, black glass. These canisters were our bread and butter and have gone through a long development process.

For the first three years of business, I sourced our jars locally and went through the entire production. The challenges I faced were not having enough stock and the amount of time it took from start to end - driving to pick up the product and deliver to printers and boxing the items. I looked into the opportunity to import our product and found a manufacturer who could provide a heap of stock, printed and packaged, which mean my time was only spent on dispatching items to my customers.

However, using an overseas manufacturer also provided risks, and it meant that I didn’t know how our product was being produced; I was no longer part of the process. I knew that importing large quantities from overseas contributed to negative impacts on our taiao. And having our Maori products manufactured overseas instead of here on our land didn’t feel right. So during this time I completed my degree, masters, moved house, set up our workshop from home, imported products, expanded our following and tested our products and systems.

We are now in our fifth year of business and have added our graphic design services to Taputapu, which means our branding needs to shift to represent our full range of services. I know where I want Taputapu to go. I no longer want to import as I want to make and produce our own products.

I’m not interested in creating large volumes of products that will harm our taiao. I want to focus more on smaller quantities that are handmade, made with love, and will last a lifetime.

It’s come to that time for me to let go and stir the waters. At the end of an era, a closing chapter, my baby has grown and is ready to leave the nest. It’s exciting and scary coming to a place of change. I have told myself that a rebrand will help communicate our new direction.

Join us on our exciting journey forward with branding, as we share more details.


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