In a bid to foster Māori entrepreneurship, Tapuwae Roa has announced today the launch of Tupu, a 10-week cohort-style programme to accelerate Māori start-ups towards sustainable success.

Developed in partnership with Sprout Agritech and co-funded by Callaghan Innovation, Tupu will welcome ten early-stage Māori start-ups from across Aotearoa, equipping them with the essential tools, mentorship, and resources to grow their businesses.

“Statistics show us that almost 50% of all startups in Aotearoa close within the first five years; Tupu is not just about rapid acceleration; it’s about growing pakihi Māori in a way that is both significant and sustainable,” says Te Pūoho Kātene, Kaihautū (Chief Executive) of Tapuwae Roa.

“At Sprout, we’re on a mission to accelerate the growth of innovative startups leading the transformation of industries that nourish and sustain life on earth,” says Chelsea Hirst, Sprout Accelerator Manager.

“We believe building Māori entrepreneurial capability is crucial for the success of these industries in New Zealand given that 50% of Māori asset bases are in primary industries. This is why we’re excited to be working alongside Tapuwae Roa, ensuring that Tupu is delivered by Māori for Māori,” says Hirst.

Facilitated by experienced business coach Saara Tawha and calling on a broad network of coaches, mentors, and experts, the accelerator focuses on key skills for start-up success, including market sizing, customer validation, developing minimal viable products, financial processes, and pitching for investment.

“When looking to scale, many pakihi are left wondering how to go about this. Tupu focuses on building the capacity of founders to allow for growth that is not only sustainable but takes their business from grassroots to the global market,” says Tawha.

Callaghan Innovation Startup and Founder Product Manager, Jenny Douché,  says she is delighted with the partnership.

“We are firmly focussed on where we can have the largest impact for Aotearoa. We know that Māori businesses are more likely to innovate and be involved in R&D activities than most, and this is why supporting them to thrive is key to realising the collective ambitions of our motu.

“We are excited about the impact that Tupu will have in building Māori entrepreneurial capabilities and look forward to following the success of the innovators who take part.”

The accelerator’s name pays homage to Tupuānuku, one of the nine stars of Matariki connected to the growth and cultivation of food.

“Tupuānuku reminds us to keep our eyes up. Growing a start-up requires big aspirations in addition to strong business fundamentals. Tupu’s role is not just to provide training, mentorship, and support, but also to empower Māori entrepreneurs to hold lofty and bold aspirations,” says Kātene.

Throughout the accelerator, founders will complete a series of in-person wānanga and collaborative projects while working towards presenting at a capstone showcase to pitch their business case to potential investors. 

Selected teams will also receive a $5,000 start-up grant to support their participation in Tupu and kickstart their business growth journeys.

Applications are now open and close on 25 March. For more information or to apply, visit