Our Founding Story

19th Aug 2020, by Amotai

Amotai (originally named He Waka Eke Noa) was officially established in 2018 by two wahine, Anna-Jane Edwards and Tania Pouwhare who sat within The Southern Initiative Team at Auckland Council.

Having spent time abroad and seeing supplier diversity initiatives in other parts of the world it struck Tania and Anna that this wasn't something that was already happening in Aotearoa.

Recognising that Māori and Pasifika were represented in some of our country’s poorest statistics they sought to create change in Aotearoa through first influencing Auckland Council's procurement and supply chains.

The advocacy, influencing and rounding up support started in 2014 alongside the piloting and testing of very small projects.

Over time they created supply chain opportunities through the Auckland Council family’s procurement, trialled, tested, and learnt what worked and what didn't for the New Zealand context.

Auckland Council and Auckland Transport have played a pivotal leadership role in intentionally using procurement to create opportunities for supplier diversity.

With growing interest from organisations around the country He Waka Eke Noa was established in 2018 to facilitate relationships with Māori and Pasifika businesses and enable the market to meet Buyers procurement requirements.

The development of He Waka Eke Noa (now Amotai) has been heavily influenced by the Australian commonwealth government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy and Supply Nation, the largest national directory of verified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. Together, these initiatives have proven to deliver step-change for Australia’s indigenous economy. We are thankful for the generous support of Supply Nation and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island businesses who have helping us bring supplier diversity to Aotearoa.

Supplier diversity is a strategic and intentional business process that proactively engages, supports, and enables businesses owned by indigenous peoples, minority ethnic groups, women, and social enterprises to be engaged in supply chains. This is known as business to business (B2B) procurement. Its aim is to level the playing field, so these businesses have fairer access to customers and markets.

The benefit for buyers is a more competitive market for goods, services and works, and potential for innovation and accessing untapped markets. Having strong supplier diversity and development practices creates a competitive edge for businesses tendering for public sector contracts where supplier diversity is a requirement.

Many countries – for example, the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, South Africa and China – have supplier diversity initiatives, including intermediaries (like Amotai) and policies for public sector social/sustainable procurement requirements. All the international evidence shows that supplier diversity initiatives ensure that indigenous, minority ethnic and women-owned businesses have opportunities to share in economic opportunities and prosperity and grow entrepreneurship and employment opportunities in their communities.