MWDI HineBoss™ is a three-day wānanga provided nationally by Māori Women’s Development Inc (MWDI) – an indigenous financial institution, governed, managed and operated by wāhine Māori for the economic development of wāhine and their whānau.

MWDI was established by the Māori Women’s Welfare League. The aim is to support the further development of Māori with a firm focus on wāhine.

Since the wānanga started in 2016 MWDI HineBoss™ has provided support for over 700 women.

Tessa Waikari-Gudgeon is the Project Manager:

“We help support women to start a new business or expand their existing businesses and welcome women from all walks of life and who are at different stages – some already have a small business and need a little bit of help, others come with just an idea.

“During the wānanga our qualified facilitators are completely focused on our participants and giving them the best experience in the course. There’s lots of support for the participants throughout the programme and we make sure that it is a really safe environment for them.

“At the end of the programme participants leave with a business plan that is 80 percent complete. They get expert help to complete the last 20 percent, which is usually around the financials.

“If wāhine want to apply for a loan they are taken through an inquiry process where they’re fully supported through the stages and later referred to our Finance department.

“Once a wāhine starts her business loan application she will be able to get free support from Te Aka our life coaches, business mentors and specialist advisors. That includes expert legal and accounting advice, as well as advice and support from experts from the appropriate business sector such as retail and tourism. Tristanne Dunlop, who has an internationally accredited qualification as a life coach trainer, is one of the facilitators:

“Many of the women who come on our wānanga have had experience working with NGOs and charities. Their children are beginning to grow up, and they are thinking that they do have skills and a commitment to hard work – and that they can start up their own little business. Health and wellbeing is a big one – that includes things like soap and beauty products based on rongoā – or healthy kai products. And there is a huge emphasis too on how we can be papatuanuku-friendly – supporting our environment, not just through products but packaging too.

“Our tikanga and kawa, our standard procedures, involve getting a vision and mission statement, assessing cash flow, forecasting and getting a plan.

“The beauty of having things written down on paper is that it becomes incredibly more powerful and more likely to happen.

“Unpacking their money story is also critical because what is happening in their life in terms of how they manage money, will flow onto their business. We talk about My IRD and the things they need to do to manage their business accounts properly.

“We remind them that our people were born entrepreneurs. The wānanga is like pulling a blanket back and exposing all those skills again.

“Moana Tamaariki-Pohe, who designed MWDI HineBoss™, has a favourite whakatauki ‘I rito i ou tātou ringaringa te rongoā – In our own hands are the remedies.

“And you can see when someone is ignited. The breakthrough moments are wonderful. They lift the rest of the group.”

Jamie Lee Raumati attended a wānanga over four years ago. Two weeks after she finished she launched her business, Bag a Bean Ltd, which provides bean bags for concerts and events. It’s based in Auckland and has branches in Taupo and Hamilton – with another about to open in Queenstown.

We asked her, what was the best thing about HineBoss.

“Oh well – where do I start! I think the best thing for me was that expertise was what I needed – and the networks. I still work with some of the facilitators in my business. I out-source work to some of the networks I made. And I am still in touch with some of the women.

“There was no light bulb moment for me, but it gave me the confidence to make it happen.

“And developing the written plan, that was important. I did have one, but it was all over the place. I now have a good business plan and a strategy.

“I was not aware when I enrolled in the programme that I could get a loan of $50,000. But later I had a loan approved and it helped me to grow my business quickly.

“HineBoss is a practical programme that you can implement straight away. They give you the tools to help you get your business off the ground.

“And the thing I loved about MWDI is their manaakitanga for wāhine Māori wanting to smash it in business and for that my family and I are so forever grateful.”

A very recent participant, trained mid-wife Julie O’Connell-Robb, attended a small, (Level 2 alert level) MWDI HineBoss™ wānanga in Palmerston North at the end of February this year. We talked with her shortly after it finished and like Jamie the experience gave her confidence and skills:

“It is wonderful being in a space with other like-minded wāhine Māori – where you can just be yourself. There are not enough spaces where you can be just that.

“I went with the idea of doing both bi-cultural supervision for health and social service practitioners, (helping them reflect on their practice and identify how their biases can impact on Māori) and helping wāhine Māori heal intergenerational trauma though rongoā Māori. There is a need for both.

“So I already had an idea. The wānanga put me in a space where I now know that I can do it and I learned – these are the ways that you can make it happen.

“As a group we were able to validate our entrepreneurial skills. And since the weekend we have been in touch, both face-to-face and online, so we know we are never alone as we work to put our ideas into reality. We can continue to inspire each other.”

For more information on Māori Women’s Development Inc, business loans, other services or to register for MWDI HineBoss™ please visit, Facebook or feel free to call one of the team anytime on 04 499 6504.