In the photo, Momi at left takes time out from her research to relax with the staff outside the Manawa Honey office, Karioi White (Production Assistant), Kaahui TeRire (Executive, Markets & Projects) and Marama Huiarangi (Production & Marketing Assistant). Mahalo nui i kou hele ‘ana mai e kipa iā Momi and best wishes with your research.
Business success is not commonly known in isolated areas such as Ruatāhuna, so we always enjoy reaching out to people across the world, who are interested in what we’re doing in Manawa Honey. In February 2020, we had a visit in February 2020 at Manawa Honey from Momi Afelin, who is a Watson Fellow from Hawaii. The Watson Fellowship is awarded to selected US university graduates as a one-year grant ‘for purposeful, independent exploration outside the United States’. Momi chose as her area of interest ‘innovation in island communities’, and specifically ‘how our island upbringings shape the way that we problem solve, and how this is manifested in social innovation and/or social entrepreneurship’.
Momi was born and raised on the island of Moloka’i where her family has lived for many generations. She explains: ‘We are a close-knit community of 7,000. We have two gas stations, two grocery stores, and one high school. We are known as Moloka’i Nui a Hina, great Moloka’i child of Hina, the goddess of the moon. I was privileged to grow up here and loved learning about how older Hawaiian communities problem-solved and innovated and how this was still evident in the population of Moloka’i today. You can see how Momi’s home of Moloka’i is the inspiration for her project on island innovation.
Momi learned of Manawa Honey through Shay Wright and Travis O’Keefe of Te Whare Hukahuka, when they were facilitating a workshop in Samoa for the Young Pacific Leaders programme. Te Whare Hukahuka is a consultancy based in Auckland that focuses on Maori development and leadership, whose vision is to improve the lives of 10 million indigenous people. We have worked with Shay and Travis in recent times on strategic issues, and we’re honoured they are sharing our story of business development.
Momi was intrigued by the story of Manawa Honey and approached us for a visit to learn more about our development and operation as a business. During her visit, Momi asked about how we built our capability of Manawa Honey by training and developing our own people of Ruatāhuna, and how we had applied our traditional tikanga (values and practices) in the way in which we run the business.
Manawa Honey also took away some insights from the meeting with Momi, firstly about the incredible opportunity offered her and others like her to connect across cultures through the Watson Fellowship, and secondly about the collaborative ways in which social enterprises are developing in islands of the Pacific that Momi has visited, such as Samoa.