Mahuki Showcase 2017

Five days later and we’re still coming down from the mad rush that was our Mahuki Showcase, 2017. TideTalk was on show for the hundreds of potential stakeholders who came through our demo hall, and then all eight Mahuki teams pitched their businesses at a beautiful sit-down dinner upstairs at Te Papa’s marae.

I’m so proud of the TideTalk team. Koni had everything sorted, including me (because, professional makeup artist!) and I just love how our newer team members fell into the crowd-schmoozing like seasoned pros. And then we had our t-shirts and shell necklaces and the mock-up of our app on display, and then we met soooo many fascinating people!

It’s been such a privilege for TideTalk to be nurtured for the last few months by the Mahuki program. These guys went big for us at our Showcase event. The amount of thought and preparation that went into making it such a special evening was really impressive.

I feel so honored to have shared the pitching stage with my friends and fellow entrepreneurs – Holly Norton from Collaborate, John Gelbolingo from Local Flair, Jaemen Busby from SimplyFi, Chris Lipscombe from ContinuX (Morph), Wei Jian Leong from ScimitAR, Jesse Armstrong from Vaka Interactiv and Brian & Phil from I Want to Experience.

I was more nervous and emotional than usual with this presentation. Our pitch includes the TideTalk origin story, so I talked a lot about my family – which always gets me with ‘dem feels’ – but then I saw my team at the back of the room, and all our supporters in the audience, and it hit me just how far TideTalk has come… and how many hands it’s taken to get us here.

With heartfelt gratitude, we’re so excited to take the next steps in our TideTalk journey.

Roll on 2018!

First Official Focus Group

Thank you to everyone who hung out with Koni at our first official TideTalk Focus Group.

(Although we’ve had several one-on-one Q & A sessions with you before, we’re calling this one ‘official’ because of the flip chart paper, Post-It notes and refreshments.)

Your insight is invaluable! Some things you helped validate:

  • Yes – scenario based learning sounds like a good idea
  • Gamification is very important, especially with measurable progress
  • We should build some sort of pretest to make sure learners are starting at the right level
  • We need a safe space to practice our language because… mocking.

Got it. Watch this space.



Back of House at Melbourne Museum’s Pacific Collection

Why is it such a buzz to go ‘back of house’ at a museum? Because museums can typically only display like 2 or 3% of all the objects they’ve collected. Imagine the treasures that every day visitors don’t get to see!

Melbourne Museum’s Pacific exhibition was a little bit… disappointing. I liked the overall concept – you walk into the space and hoisted high above your head are these canoes. It’s like you’re at the bottom of a pristine ocean, looking up at… unrecognizable sails. And then you notice display cases of islander-looking things scattered around the ‘ocean floor’ near you.


Liz Bonshek, head of the MM’s Pacific Collections, explained that the exhibit was designed by architects, actually, to align with the structure of the innovative building. She was hired two years ago to re-imagine this space, to create an actual celebration of Pacific culture, but it’s taken all this time to just get the collection in order, etc.

She’s getting there, though, and is excited about finally drafting a proposal soon.

In the meantime, she graciously invited me to visit Melbourne Museum’s home for objects from Pasifika. Amazing!

One thing I learned: when you’re in New Zealand and you think of Pacific people, you automatically think of Polynesia. When you’re in Australia, Pacific people means Papua New Guinea and Melanesian cultures. Liz’s collection from that part of Oceania far outnumbers the objects she has from Polynesia (and Micronesia)… but what she does have is pretty impressive.

If I wasn’t sworn to secrecy I would post those images up for you (I’m soooo tempted!)…

I guess we’re all going to have to wait a bit longer to see Melbourne Museum’s Pacific collection on proper display.

I can’t wait.

A Wall of Family

My new favourite museum display is in the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the Melbourne Museum.

Manager John Patten pointed at a wall illuminated with faces and told us, as long as you have indigenous ancestry in this part of Victoria, you’ll find a relative on this wall.

Then he proceeded to point out all his own relatives – that’s my Uncle, that there is my grand aunt, there goes my cousin, etc. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of ‘family’.

Such surprising power in such a simple display concept.

Te Wiki o Te Reo at Te Papa

To celebrate Maori Language 2017, Te Papa asked The League of Live Illustrators to create images celebrating Maori legend.

It’s like watching those FB videos of amazing illustrators, except live and in real time.

You walk by in the morning and an artist is beginning to sketch a mysterious something on the window. Walk by later and that something is a beautiful octopus and then there’s a fish and a marae. You purposely walk by a few more times during the day and watch the image become more colourful, more animated. Soon you realize that a story has unfolded.

Definitely a fun way to commemorate Te Wiki o Te Reo this year.

A challenge from the Dowse

I heard so much about The Dowse from my high school art teacher, I imagined it would be filled with cocktails, berets and 10-minute lectures about the nuances of colour.

I was wrong, but not disappointed.

The works on display are still intriguing, but far more about …people… than I expected. Like one collection of portraits, several of them adorned with fresh kawakawa leaves. We learned that these leaves are gathered every week and placed on the images of people who have passed away, as an acknowledgment of their enduring life force.


I was impressed by Dowse director Courtney Johnston, whose passion for her work sometimes moved her to tears, sometimes exploded in a rant against ‘the system’ as she hosted our visit. She’s fiercely intelligent with the kind of fearlessness it takes to dismiss a conventional digital presence in favour of real, in-the-flesh experiences of art.

My biggest takeaway from our visit to the Dowse was when someone (was it me?) asked Courtney about her online strategy and she said something like, we’ve got the content. How about you build your own digital audiences for it?

I was like, sweet. Done.