R&D and innovation news: Iwi shows shift with significant investment in technology start-up

MADISON REIDY / Stuff.co.nz

1Centre founder Miriana Lowrie says most iwi are still behind the trend and only invest in fishing and farming companies.
1Centre founder, Miriana Lowrie
Taranaki’s Nga Rauru Kitahi iwi has put its foot in the digital door with its first ever investment in a technology start-up. Trade account software company 1Centre recently raised $845,000, a record amount by a New Zealand start-up in an accelerator programme.
Its founder, Nga Rauru Kitahi iwi member Miriana Lowrie, said her iwi was the biggest investor in the company.

Technology company 1Centre founder Miriana Lowrie says she is pleased that her own iwi is looking at investment opportunities beyond fishing and farming.

Lowrie said she was proud that her tribe had invested in the technology industry. She originally approached Maori investors first, but was turned down because she did not fit their criteria.

“I made the decision that I would go to my own iwi and my own people.”

She said she was surprised to find that Nga Rauru had been following 1Centre’s progress. Nga Rauru Kitahi chairman Te Pahunga Marty Davis said the iwi was proud to call Lowrie one of its own.

“We are well aware that woman led start-ups are rare, even more rare are Maori woman led ones,” Davis said. 

 Lowrie said Maori were conservative and iwi typically only invested in fishery and farming companies, not technology because it was high risk.

“If they [iwi] do not start changing their investment portfolios and their investment strategies then they are going to miss out.”

Nga Rauru had started putting aside money to invest in technology companies like 1Centre, she said. Maori were becoming more advanced in their investment outlook, Lowrie said.

Being a female made the capital raising process even harder.

Prospective investors asked her how her children would hinder her businesses growth, she said. But, Lowrie still encouraged Maori women to become entrepreneurs.

“I do not think I have actually ever met one other Maori, female, tech founder.”

 – Sunday Star Times