Meta Boost launches in partnership with Tourism Industry Aotearoa

Nick McDonnell, Head of Policy for New Zealand and the Pacific Islands


We know many tourism businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and are excited to reconnect with new customers. The Digital Tools Report (2020) by Deloitte showed that 61% of consumers surveyed in New Zealand who have started purchasing from new small businesses reported that social media helped them to discover these businesses. That’s why we partnered with Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) to bring Meta Boost, our digital skills training program, to Queenstown and Rotorua, to support over 200 small businesses with the digital skills they need to bounce back.

These free in-person workshops were designed alongside TIA to help Kiwi businesses connect with new visitors and potentially workers - local and from overseas; encouraging them to stay, shop, eat, and experience Aotearoa. While the locations differed, the same energy and anticipation about the re-emerging tourism sector was clear.

Alongside expert advice from Meta’s Kiwi Community Trainers, each workshop featured a panel discussion between local businesses who are using Facebook and Instagram to thrive. In Queenstown, we heard from Shotover Canyon Swing, Black Sheep Backpackers and Ziptrek. In Rotorua - Aotearoa Dive, Real Rad Food and Blue Lake Top 10 Holiday Park took the stage to share their digital marketing journey.

National Party Spokesperson for Small Business and Commerce, Andrew Bayly MP joined us in Queenstown and commented, “These businesses have really struggled during COVID, so it’s essential to share this content about how to use Facebook and Instagram as we see tourists coming back in.”

When small businesses succeed, the wider economy benefits and this is critical to New Zealand’s pandemic economic recovery.  Meta is proud to support TIA in enabling the tourism sector to thrive online. As Ann-Marie Johnson, TIA Communications Manager, says “This is an exciting time for tourism businesses as they gear up for the return of our international manuhiri. These workshops will give operators the confidence to make the most of the latest digital tools to tell their stories and attract new customers.”

Meta has trained over 5,700 kiwi small businesses via its Meta Boost programme and has now delivered 85 workshops for New Zealand SMEs, providing vital skills to reach new customers in a changing and rapidly digitising market.

If you weren’t able to make these events, you can access more free training via the Small Business Learning Hub, and connect with thousands of businesses on the Meta Boost New Zealand Facebook Page.

Meta partners with Māori digital creators to Launch New AR Experience for APEC 2021

Mia Garlick, Director of Policy for Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands – November 10, 2021


Like many global events over the past 18 months, governments, companies and  attendees have had to adapt to attending events virtually. APEC 2021 is no different.  With delegates and participating nations unable to experience Aotearoa New Zealand in-person this year,  we wanted to create an experience to allow delateges to learn more about  te ao Māori (the Māori world)  as if they were able to visit New Zealand in person.

To help bring this experience to delegates in their home countries, we wanted to create an immersive experience that delegates and our online community could engage with. Coinciding with the launch of APEC 2021, we’re delighted to announce our partnership with a coalition of Māori digital creatives and designers to develop a ground-breaking new augmented reality (AR)  experience to virtually experience a piece of te ao Māori. Available now to over one billion people on Instagram, Ngā Atua Māori (‘The Māori Gods’) is an innovative and interactive way of telling the Māori creation story.

The launch of Ngā Atua Māori  during the APEC CEO Summit highlights the importance of Indigenous economies and culture to the region — the APEC region is home to 70% of the world’s Indigenous communities.

Parenting with Māori creatives 

The Ngā Atua Māori experience was conceptualised and led by Lee Timutimu, CEO and Founder of Arataki Systems, in collaboration with Māui Studios, a Māori-owned creative agency based in Aotearoa.  To help with the development of the AR experience, the team worked with Singapore-based not-for-profit digital arts organisation, The MeshMinds Foundation, to develop the effect’s 3D characters and face effects, based on creative by Arataki Systems and Māui Studios.

Addressing the importance of this partnership and the creativity of telling this story , Lee Timutim said “it’s been a real pleasure partnering with Meta on this project. I was particularly impressed at how respectful and culturally aware the Meta team were right throughout the course of this project. It was incredibly important for us to maintain full control and creative license over our stories, and we were allowed the freedom to do so. In our experience, Indigenous stories can only be told by Indigenous peoples for reasons of authenticity, provenance, and mana (credibility). I’m also stoked that this project demonstrates how a small Indigenous owned tech company like ours, can successfully partner with a global tech giant like Meta! My sincere hope is that this will inspire other indigenous owned tech companies here in Aotearoa New Zealand, and around the globe, to do the same”.

The collaboration was conceptualised and developed entirely by Māori artists and creators with  Andrew Baker, Managing Director of Tika Learning, providing cultural advice and creative input throughout the development of the experience and narrative. Mr Baker shared that “this was an exciting project to be involved in with Lee and the Meta team. It’s brought together some of Aotearoa’s most talented storytellers to share a Māori creation story that is both ancient and new tech; personal and collaborative; Indigenous and globally relevant and about the past and a future full of potential. Ka mau te wehi whānau!”

About the Ngā Atua Māori AR Experience

The Ngā  Atua Māori AR experience brings to life 3D animated characters that represent five of the Māori gods, and tells their stories through an AR world effect. There is also a 2D AR face effect that enables users to also create their own Instagram Story inspired by the Māori creation story.

The effect starts by introducing Ranginui – the Sky Father and Papatūānuku – the Earth Mother. Through this story, the user is then introduced to five of the more commonly known Māori Gods – Tangaroa, God of oceans and seas; Rūaumoko, God of earthquakes and volcanoes; Tāwhirimātea, God of wind and weather; Tūmatauenga, God of war; and Tāne; God of forests and birds. These represent five of the more than 70 Gods in Māori storytelling.

The 3D animations of the five Māori Gods featured were voiced by (Stacey Morrison (narrator); Scotty Morrison (the voice of Tāne); Matai Smith (the voice of Tangaroa); Piripi Taylor (the voice of Tūmatauenga); Chey Milne, the voice of Tāwhirimātea; and Tamati Waaka (the voice of Rūaumoko). The Ngā Atua Māori AR experience was based entirely on the research and writings of Tamati Waaka, who is a published author in his own right and a highly respected te reo & tikanga expert.

Drawing on APEC’s focus around Indigenous economy this year, we are honoured to support the Māori creative team behind this new AR experience, themselves highlighting the diversity of the Māori economy in the high tech and digital sector. Even if you can’t visit Aotearoa in-person, this technology allows over one billion people on Instagram the chance to immerse themselves in the Māori creation story.

Further APEC 2021 support

The AR experience adds on to the further work Meta is doing in support of APEC this year, including to sponsor more than 150 small businesses from APEC countries to attend the 2021 CEO Summit event.

As we develop new technologies on the road to the Metaverse, it’s our priority to continue investing in Indigenous digital skills and inclusive opportunities to expand these vibrant local creator communities.

2021 Boost with Facebook program in partnership with Whāriki

Nick McDonnell - Head of Public Policy, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands – September 28, 2021


We recently wrapped up our 2021 Boost with Facebook program in partnership with Whāriki Māori Business Network, reaching hundreds of small Māori-owned businesses with digital marketing training. We hosted five in-person workshops in Whāngarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua and Wellington and pivoted our last two events scheduled in Christchurch and Dunedin into a virtual event focused on Te Waipounamu (South Island) in response to the recent lockdown. The workshops provided free digital skills education delivered by two of our Kiwi Facebook Community Trainers on how to use Facebook and Instagram to continue to grow, innovate, stay resilient through uncertain times, and connect with customers locally and globally. Each workshop finished with a panel discussion highlighting local businesses who are using Facebook and Instagram to thrive, such as Nikki Kennedy from Taputapu and Anton Matthews from FUSH.

We’ve been inspired by these small businesses looking to take the next step in their digital marketing journey, and we were thrilled that 92% of attendees say they have improved their digital skills confidence following the training. Teresa Watkins, CEO of Monster Creative, who attended the Whāngarei workshops commented, “There were some great practical tips shared at the workshop but my absolute highlight was being surrounded by so many successful pakihi (businesses) Māori in one room. The presenters were also fantastic, very natural and informative.”

Facebook is grateful to have worked in partnership with the amazing team from Whāriki to bring these workshops to life. Heta Hudson, Whāriki Chairperson, says “Having successfully delivered Boost with Facebook across the motu (country), we know Māori businesses are embracing social media and digital technologies to build their businesses and tell their own unique stories. Hearing local business ‘heroes’ share their inspiring journey’s and seeing the whanaungatanga (connections) amongst the businesses in the room, has been one of the best outcomes for us. Even better, we have seen the whanaungatanga continue online, with many taking the opportunity to share, like, comment and tautoko (support) each other’s business and kaupapa (purpose).”

We were privileged to be joined by Minister Peeni Henare, Minister Kelvin Davis and MPs Tamati Coffey, Paul Eagle and Jamie Strange at the events in their electorates. Addressing participants in Whangārei on the 22nd July, Minister Kelvin Davis shared his support for local business owners saying, “To see the way Māori business in Te Tai Tokerau has grown and the number of you here today is heartwarming. It’s fantastic to see the partnership approach being established between Whāriki and Facebook to deliver training and workshops across Aotearoa for Māori small businesses. Being open to and embracing new ways of learning, especially in an ever-evolving digital age is vital…if you can incorporate your people and stories into your business that’s a real winning combination.”

Thanks to all the small businesses who took part in the programme and to our partners Whāriki for their vision in bringing such impressive pakihi together. We are committed to investing in education and local programs as part of our ongoing support to small businesses in Aotearoa and look forward to supporting more businesses in the future. If you weren’t able to make our Boost with Facebook events, you can access more free training from Facebook via the Small Business Learning Hub, and connect with thousands of businesses on the Boost with Facebook Aotearoa New Zealand Facebook Group.

The pandemic has hit Māori businesses hard, but many find success online

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer – September 15, 2021


This post was also published in the NZ Herald on 15 September 2021. The same day, Sheryl Sandberg joined New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Hon Nanaia Mahuta, to participate in a roundtable hosted by New Zealand’s Whāriki Māori Business Network, together with Indigenous SMB owners from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States in the lead-up to APEC 2021, which is being hosted this year by the New Zealand Government. 

The success of Maureen Taane’s design shop HAPA is a story of resilience through two disasters. Maureen (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Uekaha) started by operating out of a shipping container as part of a project to reopen a mall in a part of Christchurch that had been devastated in the 2011 earthquake. HAPA sells gifts, jewelry, artwork, and homewares made by nearly 300 local and Māori artisans. People love them. Maureen now has two stores in Christchurch, and sells across New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaii through its website and Shops on Facebook and Instagram.

The second disaster has affected everyone. The pandemic meant that HAPA’s stores have had to close for long periods during lockdowns, and many of the designers have struggled to get supplies and had to juggle work with home schooling and care responsibilities. Maureen and her team focused their energy online to keep HAPA going, using Facebook and Instagram to reach potential customers and tell the stories of the designers they support.

Resilience is something business owners across New Zealand have had to show during the pandemic – especially for those run by Māori communities. As an APEC report concluded this year, whenever New Zealand goes into recession, Māori are disproportionately represented in the groups most vulnerable to economic shocks. Māori-owned businesses are also a big part of the tourism industry, which has felt the brunt of travel restrictions.

Facebook’s global State of Small Business surveys have also found a stark gender disparity. During Covid, female-owned businesses are more likely to have closed than male-owned ones, more likely to have seen sales drop, and significantly more likely to be concentrated in the sectors most affected by restrictions on business.

But there are real signs of hope. Like HAPA, many businesses have made it through by focusing their efforts online. For some, it’s been the difference between staying afloat or going under. For others, it’s given them a whole new lease of life.

Even before the pandemic, more and more people were spending their time and money online, and businesses were increasingly going digital to reach them. What had been a gradual trend accelerated dramatically last year when having a digital storefront, taking online orders, and reaching customers remotely became a necessity for businesses everywhere. The good news is all these things are much easier than they were just a few years ago – and that’s especially good for communities who have historically had fewer opportunities to succeed.

Over the winter Facebook ran a series of digital skills workshops for Māori-owned businesses in partnership with the Whāriki Māori Business Network. The message was simple: making the shift online needn’t be daunting. Here are three things every business can do to be a success online:

  • Establish your digital presence. For many this is the biggest leap. Yes, setting up a website can be complicated and expensive. But, in just a few clicks, anyone can set up a Facebook Page or an Instagram Business Profile for free. There are even free tools available to make it easy to take orders and sell online.
  • Learn the basics of digital advertising. Some small business owners think advertising is something only big companies can afford – and that used to be true. But with personalized ads you can reach people you think will be interested in your products for just a few dollars. Learning the basics is easy – you can quickly learn how to create effective ads, identify audiences to show them to, and measure your results.
  • Know where to get help. There is support out there if you know where to look. The New Zealand Government also has a Covid-19 financial support program for small businesses. Māori businesses can connect with friends at the Whāriki Māori Business Network. Businesses can also visit the Boost with Facebook Aotearoa New Zealand Facebook Group, learn from experts in Facebook Blueprint, and find user-friendly resources and trainings at Facebook’s Business Resource Hub.

After a period filled with hardship and heartbreak for so many, I believe there are many reasons to be optimistic. In 2021, you don’t need anyone’s permission to turn a good idea into a successful business.  The ongoing digital transformation can be good for businesses in New Zealand, especially for Māori-owned businesses and others that have often had barriers placed in their way.

Boost with Facebook is back – in partnership with Whāriki

Nick McDonnell - Head of Public Policy, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands – July 16, 2021


Small businesses are a driving force of the Māori economy and the Māori economy is critical to a thriving New Zealand. That’s why we’re excited to be back on the road in partnership with Whāriki Māori Business Network. We’ll be visiting seven locations across Aotearoa offering free digital skills education on how to use Facebook and Instagram to continue to grow, innovate, stay resilient through uncertain times, and connect with customers locally and globally.

We kicked off our first in-person Boost with Facebook workshop in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) yesterday and were joined by business owners ready to learn and grow their business. We met with small businesses, many whānau owned, looking to take the next step in their digital marketing journey, and we were thrilled with the enthusiasm and commitment by attendees.

Heta Hudson, Whāriki Chairperson, says “We know our business community are using Facebook and Instagram, especially our whānau businesses. Our recent nationwide survey of businesses in the Whāriki Māori Business Network showed that 86% of businesses used Facebook and/or Instagram to market their business, and 89% said that digital technologies have been important for their business since the start of COVID-19.”

Addressing the audience, Hon. Peeni Henare, MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, Minister of Defence and Minister for Whānau Ora shared his support for local business owners and commented on how digital tools can help support the Māori economy to stay resilient. “Today’s hui is one of those avenues that can help take Māori business to the world. Digital technologies are a tool that can allow you to grow your kaupapa and your business, and I hope that you all get an opportunity to engage with the kaupapa that has brought us here today, but also with one another.”

The pandemic has shown that digital skills are imperative to help businesses adapt and build resilience, and their survival is necessary not just for the people they employ, but also their communities. Below are some insights on Facebook and Instagram from two of the business owners who shared their story at the workshop in Auckland.

Harmony Huntington started Aria Collection, an activewear company with a mission to improve the confidence of women across Aotearoa. After having her second pēpi (baby), Harmony found physical activity was a great tool to help combat postpartum depression, and when Harmony was wearing activewear she liked, it gave her a positive mental health hit. In June 2020, Harmony put out a Facebook post to gauge interest in her product and got an amazing response. Since then Harmony has used Facebook and Instagram as the main marketing tool to grow her business which now has over 4,700 followers on Instagram.

We were also joined by Geneva Harrison from Tuhi Stationery, which creates Māori inspired and designed stationery. Tuhi Stationery have used Facebook to build a community of customers, allowing them to test new ideas and see what resonates before creating products. This has helped them to incorporate te ao Māori concepts in a meaningful way. Facebook has also been a key driver of growth, with business Page insights helping them to identify the target audience  for an advertising campaign featuring their growing range of products, which lead to 63% of sales referrals coming through Facebook over the last seven days.

The success of these business owners and entrepreneurs wouldn’t have been possible without resilience and an ability to  embrace creative solutions through building their skills in digital marketing and technologies.

We continue to invest in education and local programs as part of our ongoing support to SMEs  in Aotearoa and look forward to supporting more businesses in the weeks to come — register to join us today.


Te Tai Tokerau – Whangārei

Thursday 22 July

9am – 2pm


Waikato – Hamilton

Thursday 29 July

9am – 2pm


Waiariki — Rotorua

Friday 6 August

12pm – 5pm


Te  Whanganui a Tara – Wellington

Friday 13 August

12pm – 5pm


Waitaha – Christchurch

Friday 20 August

12pm – 5pm


Ōtākou – Dunedin

Friday 27 August

12pm – 5pm


If you aren’t able to make our Boost with Facebook events, you can access more free training from Facebook via the Small Business Learning Hub, and connect with thousands of businesses on the Boost with Facebook Aotearoa New Zealand Facebook Group.

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