Whakamāori is a startup proudly based in Ōtautahi, Christchurch. Our mission is simple: to "whaka māori" or to make things Māori. Waka, a certified te reo translator/interpreter, and James, an seasoned bitcoin/web3 developer, form the backbone of our team. Together, we are driven to normalise te reo Māori for all.
Founding Story and Progress:
Whakamāori is a startup proudly based in Ōtautahi, Christchurch. Our mission is simple: to "whaka māori" or to make things Māori. Waka, a certified te reo translator/interpreter, and James, an seasoned bitcoin/web3 developer, form the backbone of our team. Together, we are driven to normalise te reo Māori for all. Waka's extensive experience, which includes collaborations with top NZ brands and government organisations, underpins our approach. James complements this with his technical prowess, developed over five years working on international, often bilingual, web3 projects. The heart of Whakamāori beats with two core values: Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and Auahatanga (creativity and innovation). Our purpose is straightforward: we aim to assist organisations in translating their English-only digital platforms into te reo Māori. Our target market is New Zealand and international organisations keen to diversify by adding a reo Māori option to their websites — with a special focus on Kiwi web3 companies. For now, Whakamāori is a two-person operation, but we're supported by a reliable network of contract developers and translators. Despite being in the early stages of our journey, we're enthusiastic about our mission and determined to make it a reality.
Progress & Traction
Whakamāori is currently in the pre-revenue phase, focused on developing our pilot product, Kārikoha (a reo Māori platform for buying NZ phone top-ups and gift cards.) We’ve already built much of the underlying API and frontend, however, we need to gain several approvals before we can become an authorised “virtual retailer.”
Progress has been a bit slow so far — Waka is transitioning careers, and James is splitting his time with his other consulting work. Despite this, we've made large strides in preparing for our financial operations. We’ve gotten approvals for several payment gateways such as Stripe, Windcave, POLi, and various digital currency platforms, setting a solid foundation for our vision of accepting Bitcoin and other digital currencies in the future. We're on the cusp of applying to Pae Hokohoko (the government’s marketplace for service providers.) This is pending the formalisation of our company and procuring the necessary insurances.
Our immediate goal at Whakamāori is to bring our service to life and start welcoming our very first clients. It's an exciting stage for us, and we are focused on ensuring a seamless experience for our customers. Although we're currently a duo, we're certainly not working alone - we have a supportive network of contract developers and translators that are as enthusiastic as us about making reo Māori more accessible. If you're intrigued by our vision or have a passion for making a difference, we'd love to hear from you. Don't hesitate to drop us a line at email@example.com. We're just getting started and the journey ahead is looking promising.
Whakamāori’s biggest challenge!
We’re going through a few challenges right now. Our primary hurdle lies in navigating the complexities of governmental tender applications, a process we're still learning about. In addition, our team faces constraints due to Waka's ongoing career transition and James' parttime commitment. Nevertheless, we're fully dedicated and steadfast in our determination to overcome these challenges.
Whakamāori opportunities for Web3
We’ve got several ideas. To start with, we’re accepting digital currencies like Bitcoin from day one, making our services accessible to a broader market. Furthermore, we're committed to caring for our environment - we plan to offset our carbon emissions through blockchain-verifiable carbon credits. With a focus on Web3 companies as initial customers, we aim to make the crypto space more inclusive for Māori, so that all New Zealanders can benefit from it.
What do Whakamāori see as New Zealand's super power in setting up a Web3 business?
We believe that NZ’s super power lies in its straightforward business setup processes and relatively friendly approach to cryptocurrency.
As a nation, we're fortunate to have tech-friendly laws that allow businesses to compensate their employees with crypto, and to accept crypto as a legitimate form of payment. Our tech sector is also good in general - we have many great engineers, and it’s easy to connect with anyone from any industry given our small size and “2 degrees of connection”.
However, there are also unique challenges. Crypto companies often struggle with discrimination from overly cautious banks. Most Kiwi accountants don’t understand how crypto works. Furthermore, crypto is currently treated as property rather than currency. This distinction, while seemingly minor, introduces additional administrative burdens and complexities for businesses operating in this space.
For the ecosystem to truly flourish, we reckon Aotearoa requires a more comprehensive understanding and acceptance of crypto by financial institutions, more appropriate tax treatment, and accountants who are more versed in cryptocurrency tax law. By addressing these issues, Aotearoa can continue to be a fertile ground for web3 startups.
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Co-Founder of Whakamāori, James Scaur.
James is a seasoned software developer skilled in localisation and accessibility technologies. After several years overseas, he returned to Aotearoa with a profound appreciation for Māoritanga, and is dedicated to making the digital world more inclusive and navigable for Māori.
Co-Founder of Whakamāori, Waka. Waka is a certified te reo translator and interpreter with a robust portfolio in assisting top Kiwi brands, NGOs, and government organisations with their Māori ambitions and initiatives. Currently undergoing a career transition, he is committed to integrating reo and uara Māori into the digital landscape.