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Pōtiki Poi is gearing up for Te Matatini

A Dunedin-based poi manufacturer, which is helping New Zealanders across Aotearoa to embrace Māori culture through the art of poi, is gearing up to participate in Te Matatini.

Georgia Latu, 16 years old, is the chief executive of Pōtiki Poi which produced about 30,000 poi for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup campaign, ‘Wā Poi | It’s poi time’, and retails poi in 30 Countdown supermarkets across Aotearoa.

The Ngāi Tahu and Ngāpuhi descendant is humbled by Pōtiki Poi’s journey so far.

“Right at the beginning when I was 12-years-old, my goals were to walk into a store and buy Aotearoa-made poi which Countdown is doing now and for our poi to be at Te Matatini,” says Georgia.

She and her Mum, Anna Latu, are making her second goal happen. They hosting a stall at Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tangata Markets at Ngā Ana Wai (Eden Park, Auckland).

During the week of Te Matatini, free Pōtiki poi have been placed throughout Tāmaki Makaurau to bring kapa haka to the streets and rouse interests in the art form. Not only that, every dollar from Georgia’s poi sales at Te Matatini will go towards those who have been affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

“It’s worth it to showcase taonga and to be in an environment that empowers taonga like mau poi - both on stage and off stage.

“We’ve made 3,000 short corded poi, 1000 long corded poi and we have kākāhu (clothing), posters and mau rākau (stick games) for Te Matatini. We’re so excited to be at our first Te Matatini Festival. It’s a platform that celebrates te ao Māori (the Māori World). A place where we can be ourselves and connect with others who are passionate about Māori culture,” she says.

Georgia’s passion for poi saw her named the 2022 Young Māori Business Leader Award winner, 2019 GirlBoss of New Zealand Supreme Trailblazer Award and more recently a semi-finalist in the 2023 Kiwibank of the Year Awards’ University of Canterbury Young New Zealander of the Year category.

Georgia named her business Pōtiki Poi after the surname of her people’s ancestor, Tahu Pōtiki, who led them to Te Waipounamu (South Island) and for Api, her pōtiki (youngest brother) who lives with Trisomy 21. She wanted to ensure that her pakihi (business) would one day support him and community members like him. Pōtiki Poi’s workforce also includes Pasifika whanaunga who share their reo as well as learning Māori words such as the elements of the poi including taura (chord), aho (tie) and hukahuka (tassle).

With Georgia close to accomplishing her goals, a new task on her wishlist is to partner with a Te Matatini rōpū haka (haka team).

“Our rōpū haka are stars. Each kapa (group) has their own unique style and making poi. I’d love any of our Matatini kaihaka to use our poi on any stage. That would be a joy for our Pōtiki Poi whānau because our differences enhance our mātauranga (knowledge) and enables us to grow, learn and appreciate each other. That whakaaro (concept) is why I love our culture, its artforms and te reo Māori because it is unique to Aotearoa,” says Georgia Latu.

The Pōtiki Poi stall is located at the Matatini Markets Pakihi (Business) village at Eden Park.



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