Looking ahead to a renewable future with Aotea & Audi
At first glance, a range of health products, made on an island in the Hauraki Gulf with traditional Māori herbal remedies as inspiration, and prestige car brand Audi don’t seem to have a lot in common.
But increasingly, a shift in priorities across the globe, and a commitment to doing the very best for New Zealand, has seen striving for sustainability become a common goal that stretches across industries.
Sustainability is by no means a new concept for Tama Toki, who with business partner Simon Stanley-Harris, founded the Aotea brand to share the native plant-based remedies Māori have been relying on for generations.
Toki grew up on Aotea, Great Barrier Island, where living off grid was the only option and relying on traditional methods to stay healthy was a skill passed down by his grandmother. He was under no illusions that while he was privileged to live in a beautiful place, there were also many challenges for the island’s inhabitants.
After leaving the island to go to secondary school, then complete a law degree, Toki wanted to do something for his home and wider whānau.
“I felt the best thing I could do was start a business that created employment on the island. That was the dream,” he says.
“In terms of a mandate, the business is about doing things for the community, but in a way that is consistent with tikanga Māori.”
In essence, says Toki, that drives the company’s sustainability principles in a role as kaitiaki – guardians - of the natural world and its resources. Aotea’s range includes creams, balms and soap made from native plants including Kawakawa, Kūmarahou, Harakeke and Mānuka.
“We grow the flora, we extract the flora, we formulate the products ourselves and sell it through our shop in Commercial Bay and online.”
Doing so sustainably means adhering to traditional methods such as not picking too much from a single plant and leaving enough honey in the hives for bees during the winter.
“What makes it truly exciting is that we’re making our products in a way that embraces tikanga and tradition, but also sustainability and innovation.”
Amy de Vries
Spokesperson – Marketing