The He Kakano fund supports young entrepreneurs

In 2018, Blake Armstrong experienced traumatic personal challenges that resulted in complete memory loss.

That year, he bought himself a camera to capture his memories.

He is now one of two Mana Rangatahi alumni to be selected for a new youth entrepreneurship fund. Mr. Armstrong, from Dunedin, and Mokoia Rata, from Taupo, were recently selected as the first recipients of the $2 million He Kakano fund, which would provide funding to around 100 young entrepreneurs over the next two years.

The fund – a partnership between The Prince’s Trust Aotearoa New Zealand and the Department of Youth Development – ​​had $1million donated by the government and was matched dollar-for-dollar by private and corporate philanthropy.

Miss Rata and Mr. Armstrong each received $10,000 for their respective businesses.

After buying his first camera, Mr. Armstrong began volunteering with a local music production taking pictures where he landed his first paying client.

He grew his business, Armstrong Photography NZ, while following the Mana Rangatahi program.

The 12-week program was based on the application of Maori Matauranga principles, critical thinking and resilience-based activities for the modern working environment of young people living in Dunedin.

His business had now grown into professional sporting events including Super Rugby at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

“I like to focus on those memories for others now that I’m back in a good space,” he said.

His funding would be used to purchase more equipment and he had been offered a photography apprenticeship mentored by other photographers in Dunedin.

Miss Rata (26) moved to Dunedin in 2020 ‘to stand on her own two feet’ after spending three years studying indigenous Maori art on the North Island.

She taught people how to make traditional Maori medicines in Dunedin and found that ‘the demand was for the products and not so much for the learning’.

She joined Mana Rangatahi soon after moving to the town where she was inspired to start her own business, Kohatrade, making and selling her traditional products.

Late last year, she returned to her home in Taupo, where she lives partly off-grid with her family, to focus on growing the business.

Miss Rata was delighted to be a beneficiary of the fund, saying she would use the money for distribution and marketing.

“I’m so grateful.”

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