‘Hinepreneur’

‘I love knowledge, I love learning’

‘I love knowledge, I love learning’

BUSINESSWOMAN: Bobbi Morice outside the Ruatoria Pies premises in Waiomatatini Rd, Ruatoria.

Picture by Josie McClutchie, courtesy of Te Puni Kokiri
Bobbi Morice and her husband Pakanui Webb outside the former Makarika Station homestead, the dream home she bought in 2013.

Picture by Josie McClutchie, courtesy of Te Puni Kokiri
Bobbi Morice (centre) with her whanau (from left) sons Kahutiaterangi and Pakanui (jnr), husband Pakanui Webb, daughter Hinekehu, son TeAhoMatua and daughter Atawhai TeRangimarie in front of their home.

Picture by Josie McClutchie, courtesy of Te Puni Kokiri

Bobbi Morice didn’t want to leave the Coast to find work so she bought a business in Ruatoria. Ironically, her success as a businesswoman now takes her away from home a lot and may ultimately lead her overseas.

A young mum at 17, home owner at 23, business owner at 30 and enterprise mentor at 43, Bobbi has always had a strong desire to be independent and succeed.

Born in Te Puia Springs to parents Jim and Ruira Morice who were also born and raised on the Coast, Bobbi attended Ngata Memorial College until the age of 17 when her son Kahutiaterangi was born. Thanks to her mother and grandmothers’ example, Bobbi says she knew how to run a household from a young age, so at 21 she began the process of buying her own home.

Buying first home a major accomplishment

Among the first to graduate from a home ownership course run in Ruatoria in 1994, Bobbi bought the house under the Low Deposit Rural Lending Programme, a partnership between Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, and Housing New Zealand to address housing challenges.

It was a complex process because Bobbi was only eligible for a loan of $35,000 and the dwelling, an old shepherd’s house at the back of Tolaga Bay owned by Landcorp, had to be transported to her whanau land in Hiruharama. She was 23 and a mother of two by the time the sale went through.

Looking back, Bobbi says buying her first home was one of her biggest accomplishments.

“I grew up in a supportive household full of love. But even as a young solo mum, I always believed it was important to manage on my own, be independent and not have to rely on anyone else,” she says.

Next: buying a business

Bobbi’s next major decision was to buy a business in Ruatoria so she could live and work on the Coast and raise her tamariki at the foot of Mt Hikurangi alongside the Waiapu River, where she herself grew up.

Bobbi and her husband Pakanui Webb bought the Kiwi Tea Rooms in 2004, a business previously owned by her grandparents in the 1960s and then her aunt and uncle in the late 1970s, who had it for 28 years.

“I grew up with them as my role models and could see what they had achieved through running their own business.

“The way I looked at it, if you wanted to achieve things in life, being self-employed was a way of making it happen. I believe it’s the way of the future for our people up the Coast, something I’m incredibly passionate about — creating your own lifestyle, not relying on others,” she says.

“Although I was the third generation of our family to own the business, I knew nothing about how to run the show . . . but I did know how to work hard and handle money. We renamed the tearooms Sunburst Cafe Lounge, gave it a new look and rebranded the Kiwi Pies, Ruatoria Pies.

“The first year was very challenging but we got by, thanks to support from my sister, parents, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunties, uncles, nannies and papas. They helped at the shop, my sister taught me how to do the books, whanau looked after our kids so we could work and when we went to pick them up, they were bathed and fed and ready for bed.

“My husband and I worked long hours and it was hard at times but our goals kept us focused. We had set ourselves goals and it was exciting to be working towards them. We were doing it for our children’s future. The cafe provided holiday work for the kids too.”

Four good years before GFC 2008

The business enjoyed four good years before the financial crisis of 2008 struck, prompting some tough decisions.

“When the recession hit, whole families began leaving Ruatoria to find work elsewhere so we had to figure out what we could do to save the business. With support from Te Puni Kokiri Maori Business Facilitation Service, we restructured our business model, closed the cafe and takeaways and focused entirely on our main money-earner, Ruatoria Pies.

“We had to lay off staff, and work it ourselves. When there are no other options you have to do what you have to, to survive. But as my grandfather Eddie Harrison told me: 'Business is business. It’s your livelihood. It’s not personal’. Whenever I have to make hard decisions for our business, I always come back to this.”

Bobbi and Pakanui made the right move — the business is thriving and now employs a staff of six. Around 1500 pies of 11 different flavours are baked daily at the former cafe premises and distributed through the East Coast and Tairawhiti district.

Isolation a significant challenge

Running a business from Ruatoria poses significant challenges, Bobbi says.

“Isolation is the biggest issue — the cost of bringing all the raw materials in and sending the finished product out, and weather-related problems such as road closures and power outages. If we run out of an ingredient, we can’t just go down the road to get it so the isolation has taught us to be resilient and always think and plan ahead.

“Part of my character has always been to turn a negative into a positive. The ability to find solutions to problems is a good trait to have if you are in business, and being fearless helps too. I’m always reassessing things, especially when we hit a rocky patch . . . you have to, that’s just how it is. But I’ve never doubted that Ruatoria is the right place for our business.”

Bobbi actually doesn’t make many pies these days. Now a mother of five, aged 11 to 25 years, she leads a busy life, much of it away from home.

Capability coaching

Last year, the Maori Women’s Development Inc (MWDI) — an arm of the Maori Women’s Welfare League — approached Bobbi to train as a “hinepreneur capability coach” providing Maori in Tairawhiti with advice and support to build their personal, whanau and business wealth. Bobbi didn’t hesitate. She accepted the invitation immediately, joining 12 other women on the Wellington-based training programme.

“I had been doing business mentoring on an informal basis at Ruatoria for some time so I leapt at the chance to get some professional training,” she says.

When I talked with Bobbi, she was about to fly to Auckland for a business facilitation workshop with her fellow “hinepreneurs”.

“They are very, very talented women and I love to pick their brains,” she says. “I also enjoy giving something back to the Maori Women’s Development Inc who took a risk on me years ago and helped me into my business when none of the banks would look at me.”

Every week, Bobbi meets with clients at Te Puni Kokiri’s (TPK) Business Hub in Gisborne, a service facilitated by business facilitation manager Hera Katipa.

“The TPK Business Hub is a great place to meet with like-minded people, listen to different experiences and have access to agencies like IRD, ACC, WINZ, Worksafe and MWDI. The Business Hub is a wealth of knowledge and support and an asset for the Tairawhiti area. I give business planning advice using a tool I’ve developed from my own experience combined with what I’ve learned at the training sessions.

“One of the things I do is assist people to come up with well-written business plans to apply for funding from the bank. It’s a worthwhile learning exercise because it makes you look ahead, examine your strengths and weaknesses, find solutions to problems, plan how to deal with the inevitable ups and downs and anticipate problems. Being prepared is what it’s all about.”

Each person has a unique way of learning

Bobbi finds the work enormously exciting, especially when she helps a client to reach “a light-bulb moment” or come up with a solution to a problem.

“It’s an awesome challenge for me. I can see the ones who are hungry for knowledge. You give them a simple, effective tool, and ‘woosh’, they’re up and away, while others take much longer to identify and overcome barriers, and need more input.

“One thing I have learned is that each individual has a unique and different way of learning and moving forwards. It’s important to move at the client’s pace. ‘One size fits all’ does not work — everyone is different, so I apply a different way of working with each person. Along the way, I’m learning from them too.”

Bobbi recently completed a women and farming course through Agri Women’s Development Trust and is also studying for a life coaching certificate through the US-based International Coaching Federation.

Having converted the former cafe into a conference room, Bobbi is conducting her own “Enterprise Mentoring” workshops in Ruatoria.

“I’m a goal-setting freak so I’m helping whanau who want to build or buy homes or relocate. People come to me with personal issues and that’s where my life coaching skills come in handy. It’s great having tools to apply to such situations and helping people overcome obstacles in their lives. Some people have great dreams and ideas but encounter issues achieving them. Once they can see what the barriers are, they can move forward.”

Going global

Ever the goal-setter, Bobbi’s long-term plan is to “go global”.

“I have already spoken to indigenous people elsewhere whose situations are similar to Maori — my goal is to share my tools, knowledge and experience with them.”

Bobbi has come a long way since she bought her first house 22 years ago. She now owns two houses — one in Gisborne and her “dream home”, the Makarika Station homestead at Ruatoria, a big old colonial-style home with extensive English gardens.

“I fell in love with the place as a child so it was a dream come true to buy it in 2013. The thing was I had to try — if it didn’t happen at least I knew I’d tried. After 14 years together, Pakanui and I got married there in 2014.”

She’s not sure where she gets her burning desire to succeed.

“Everyone wants to succeed and with support around you, anything is possible. That is what has helped me to get to where I am today. The support from whanau and others is priceless, and I will forever be grateful for that.

“I love knowledge, I love learning. You never stop — everyday you learn something new, it’s exciting,” she says with a sparkle in her eyes. “I’m absolutely passionate about what I’m doing. That’s why I do what I do.”

Bobbi Morice didn’t want to leave the Coast to find work so she bought a business in Ruatoria. Ironically, her success as a businesswoman now takes her away from home a lot and may ultimately lead her overseas.

A young mum at 17, home owner at 23, business owner at 30 and enterprise mentor at 43, Bobbi has always had a strong desire to be independent and succeed.

Born in Te Puia Springs to parents Jim and Ruira Morice who were also born and raised on the Coast, Bobbi attended Ngata Memorial College until the age of 17 when her son Kahutiaterangi was born. Thanks to her mother and grandmothers’ example, Bobbi says she knew how to run a household from a young age, so at 21 she began the process of buying her own home.

Buying first home a major accomplishment

Among the first to graduate from a home ownership course run in Ruatoria in 1994, Bobbi bought the house under the Low Deposit Rural Lending Programme, a partnership between Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, and Housing New Zealand to address housing challenges.

It was a complex process because Bobbi was only eligible for a loan of $35,000 and the dwelling, an old shepherd’s house at the back of Tolaga Bay owned by Landcorp, had to be transported to her whanau land in Hiruharama. She was 23 and a mother of two by the time the sale went through.

Looking back, Bobbi says buying her first home was one of her biggest accomplishments.

“I grew up in a supportive household full of love. But even as a young solo mum, I always believed it was important to manage on my own, be independent and not have to rely on anyone else,” she says.

Next: buying a business

Bobbi’s next major decision was to buy a business in Ruatoria so she could live and work on the Coast and raise her tamariki at the foot of Mt Hikurangi alongside the Waiapu River, where she herself grew up.

Bobbi and her husband Pakanui Webb bought the Kiwi Tea Rooms in 2004, a business previously owned by her grandparents in the 1960s and then her aunt and uncle in the late 1970s, who had it for 28 years.

“I grew up with them as my role models and could see what they had achieved through running their own business.

“The way I looked at it, if you wanted to achieve things in life, being self-employed was a way of making it happen. I believe it’s the way of the future for our people up the Coast, something I’m incredibly passionate about — creating your own lifestyle, not relying on others,” she says.

“Although I was the third generation of our family to own the business, I knew nothing about how to run the show . . . but I did know how to work hard and handle money. We renamed the tearooms Sunburst Cafe Lounge, gave it a new look and rebranded the Kiwi Pies, Ruatoria Pies.

“The first year was very challenging but we got by, thanks to support from my sister, parents, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunties, uncles, nannies and papas. They helped at the shop, my sister taught me how to do the books, whanau looked after our kids so we could work and when we went to pick them up, they were bathed and fed and ready for bed.

“My husband and I worked long hours and it was hard at times but our goals kept us focused. We had set ourselves goals and it was exciting to be working towards them. We were doing it for our children’s future. The cafe provided holiday work for the kids too.”

Four good years before GFC 2008

The business enjoyed four good years before the financial crisis of 2008 struck, prompting some tough decisions.

“When the recession hit, whole families began leaving Ruatoria to find work elsewhere so we had to figure out what we could do to save the business. With support from Te Puni Kokiri Maori Business Facilitation Service, we restructured our business model, closed the cafe and takeaways and focused entirely on our main money-earner, Ruatoria Pies.

“We had to lay off staff, and work it ourselves. When there are no other options you have to do what you have to, to survive. But as my grandfather Eddie Harrison told me: 'Business is business. It’s your livelihood. It’s not personal’. Whenever I have to make hard decisions for our business, I always come back to this.”

Bobbi and Pakanui made the right move — the business is thriving and now employs a staff of six. Around 1500 pies of 11 different flavours are baked daily at the former cafe premises and distributed through the East Coast and Tairawhiti district.

Isolation a significant challenge

Running a business from Ruatoria poses significant challenges, Bobbi says.

“Isolation is the biggest issue — the cost of bringing all the raw materials in and sending the finished product out, and weather-related problems such as road closures and power outages. If we run out of an ingredient, we can’t just go down the road to get it so the isolation has taught us to be resilient and always think and plan ahead.

“Part of my character has always been to turn a negative into a positive. The ability to find solutions to problems is a good trait to have if you are in business, and being fearless helps too. I’m always reassessing things, especially when we hit a rocky patch . . . you have to, that’s just how it is. But I’ve never doubted that Ruatoria is the right place for our business.”

Bobbi actually doesn’t make many pies these days. Now a mother of five, aged 11 to 25 years, she leads a busy life, much of it away from home.

Capability coaching

Last year, the Maori Women’s Development Inc (MWDI) — an arm of the Maori Women’s Welfare League — approached Bobbi to train as a “hinepreneur capability coach” providing Maori in Tairawhiti with advice and support to build their personal, whanau and business wealth. Bobbi didn’t hesitate. She accepted the invitation immediately, joining 12 other women on the Wellington-based training programme.

“I had been doing business mentoring on an informal basis at Ruatoria for some time so I leapt at the chance to get some professional training,” she says.

When I talked with Bobbi, she was about to fly to Auckland for a business facilitation workshop with her fellow “hinepreneurs”.

“They are very, very talented women and I love to pick their brains,” she says. “I also enjoy giving something back to the Maori Women’s Development Inc who took a risk on me years ago and helped me into my business when none of the banks would look at me.”

Every week, Bobbi meets with clients at Te Puni Kokiri’s (TPK) Business Hub in Gisborne, a service facilitated by business facilitation manager Hera Katipa.

“The TPK Business Hub is a great place to meet with like-minded people, listen to different experiences and have access to agencies like IRD, ACC, WINZ, Worksafe and MWDI. The Business Hub is a wealth of knowledge and support and an asset for the Tairawhiti area. I give business planning advice using a tool I’ve developed from my own experience combined with what I’ve learned at the training sessions.

“One of the things I do is assist people to come up with well-written business plans to apply for funding from the bank. It’s a worthwhile learning exercise because it makes you look ahead, examine your strengths and weaknesses, find solutions to problems, plan how to deal with the inevitable ups and downs and anticipate problems. Being prepared is what it’s all about.”

Each person has a unique way of learning

Bobbi finds the work enormously exciting, especially when she helps a client to reach “a light-bulb moment” or come up with a solution to a problem.

“It’s an awesome challenge for me. I can see the ones who are hungry for knowledge. You give them a simple, effective tool, and ‘woosh’, they’re up and away, while others take much longer to identify and overcome barriers, and need more input.

“One thing I have learned is that each individual has a unique and different way of learning and moving forwards. It’s important to move at the client’s pace. ‘One size fits all’ does not work — everyone is different, so I apply a different way of working with each person. Along the way, I’m learning from them too.”

Bobbi recently completed a women and farming course through Agri Women’s Development Trust and is also studying for a life coaching certificate through the US-based International Coaching Federation.

Having converted the former cafe into a conference room, Bobbi is conducting her own “Enterprise Mentoring” workshops in Ruatoria.

“I’m a goal-setting freak so I’m helping whanau who want to build or buy homes or relocate. People come to me with personal issues and that’s where my life coaching skills come in handy. It’s great having tools to apply to such situations and helping people overcome obstacles in their lives. Some people have great dreams and ideas but encounter issues achieving them. Once they can see what the barriers are, they can move forward.”

Going global

Ever the goal-setter, Bobbi’s long-term plan is to “go global”.

“I have already spoken to indigenous people elsewhere whose situations are similar to Maori — my goal is to share my tools, knowledge and experience with them.”

Bobbi has come a long way since she bought her first house 22 years ago. She now owns two houses — one in Gisborne and her “dream home”, the Makarika Station homestead at Ruatoria, a big old colonial-style home with extensive English gardens.

“I fell in love with the place as a child so it was a dream come true to buy it in 2013. The thing was I had to try — if it didn’t happen at least I knew I’d tried. After 14 years together, Pakanui and I got married there in 2014.”

She’s not sure where she gets her burning desire to succeed.

“Everyone wants to succeed and with support around you, anything is possible. That is what has helped me to get to where I am today. The support from whanau and others is priceless, and I will forever be grateful for that.

“I love knowledge, I love learning. You never stop — everyday you learn something new, it’s exciting,” she says with a sparkle in her eyes. “I’m absolutely passionate about what I’m doing. That’s why I do what I do.”

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dee - 2 years ago
You're amazing - such an inspiration for Ngati Porou wahine :) Nga mihi Maioha.

Eli Jones - 2 years ago
Ka pai Bobbi I'm so proud of you.

Ex Coastie - 2 years ago
Love and support, happy families, opportunities, pulling together and all those lovely stepping stones that clear the way to successfulness. Sadly, for some, there will never be steps but holes that the unfortunate keep falling into - and that continually follow those less fortunate ones around, all their lives in most cases. Good on you Bobbi, you are very fortunate.

Anthony Ratana - 2 years ago
Awesome, living your passion and smashing it!!!

Patricia - 2 years ago
Well I don't like reading at all but I read your story to the end because you are a Ngati wahine and I too have a passion, a lot like you, driven to succeed personally - more than monetary reward, to be honest. If it's there I will accept it, through the work of my own hands. My passion is driven by my ambition to show my two children that with hard work you can achieve, but also if it doesn't happen one week to another then keep trying. They drive me to be the best I can be for them and for their well being, but also for my self belief.

Aroha Bell - 2 years ago
Where do I start? I have a life time of skills and knowledge. I would love to start a small business of my own here in Auckland.

Ria - 2 years ago
Awesome stuff! Inspirational x

Michael Takarangi - 2 years ago
Respect, so so awesome to see a fellow Ngati succeed. So so proud . . . ps, your smoked fish pie is the bomb!

Tania Toeke - 2 years ago
Absolutely awesome, what an inspiration to all us Maori women out here - especially young mums . . . I love you . . . I'm in Utter Awe Mrs Bobbi Morice!

Tim Marshall - 2 years ago
Kei runga noa atu koe e hika

Patsy Roberts - 2 years ago
First I'd like to say I remember going to the old Ruatoria Tearooms back in the day, when I was growing up. All the nannies and papas were there from all over the motu - the bus used to stop there, also greyhound then I think. Whanau/families were big then. Those were the days. Second, I love Ruatoria pies! I know all the areas on the road around the motu where they are sold, lol. When I lived in Whakatane I found out Taneatua sold Ruatoria pies so that was me, often off to Taneatua to get me a pie or two or three haha! Yes love!
Anyhow, back to my story. The feeds were omg! Fish, eggs and chips were a favourite - fresh as anything with salad, pot of tea for 4,5,6,7,8 lol big whanau/families gathered there back in the day, dressed to the T - it was "te main hub" of the Coast. All the get-togethers for horse sports, chopping, it was packed out. It was the main shop in town and it pumped! I'd love to join the course, because I'm in the same boat - I feel I have the knowledge of cooking, catering, doing my dream to own my own, run my own. I know I can, I just need help and understanding. I always knew there was a method to my madness! Lol.
I was so happy to see this story - it's like it was meant to be. It has been right under my nose all this time and I've just seen it now...I'd love a pm from you "Hineprener" - you're an inspiration to all us wahine whanau of Ngati Porou. I believe you'd be the one to help me on my journey. Kia Ora! Hope to hear from you.

Tineke Grindlay - 1 year ago
Amazing my cousin, very inspirational!

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