Toi Pakihi: Ara Media, Rawinia Maihi & Amalia Reweti

L to R: Rawinia Maihi and Amalia Reweti. Photo Credit: Alisha Lovrich

There’s something special about the duo behind Ara Media, the creative agency and whānau pakihi bringing community stories to life. That’s because Rawinia Maihi and Amalia Reweti aren’t just business partners – they’re school mates, cousins and above all, best friends.

So when they started thinking about venturing into business, after a career spent chasing a 9-5, it was only natural that they sought out each other.

Both wāhine worked at Ngāti Whātua Whai Māia, the tribal development arm of the iwi. Here, they grew their creative skills including social media production, communications and videography. It was through this work that they realised just how big of a gap there was in the industry for authentic storytellers, for the people by the people.

“Social media is our passion. We wanted to tell our own stories, show them through a Pasifika and Māori lens”, says Amalia.

“Taking the first step was really scary,” she says. But they had a solid network of people and organisations to work with.

“We’d built good relationships in our time at Whai Māia, and we were also involved in kapa haka and CrossFit. Plus, we were really encouraged by our iwi.

This journey has been deeply rewarding for the pair and they’ve embraced the chance to work together and being able to rely on each other to help juggle a sustainable work/life balance.

“Working as a duo is our superpower”, says Amalia. “We see other content creators who are by themselves, doing all the work alone. Together, we can push each other, as well as support each other.”

“We’ve also had massive friend and whānau support,” adds Rawinia. “My whole life, I’ve been supported by my iwi to try do new things.”

The pair give a special mihi to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Māia which continues to provide mentoring, financial support, and work opportunities, even after they left the organisation.

With the help of Whai Māia and the Toi Pakihi programme they were able to kick-start their business.

“We’ve been so fortunate. Once we’re more established and comfortable, we want to give back. Work with our rangatahi, give back to our marae and give back to this space that had input into our growth.”

The impact of their work is evident in the positive reception from the communities they serve. Their goal of increasing Māori and Pasifika representation online is gradually being realised.

Navigating the challenges of the business world wasn’t easy, but they had the support of their whānau and iwi. The duo continues to be grateful to those that held their hands from the very start, as they navigate through this creative space.

“We’re stressed, but blessed,” Amalia laughs.

This blessing of support has been the key to their success. “I think we surprised ourselves, in a good way, on how far we’ve advanced with the business. We are where we want to be, and quite early on,” says Rawinia.

But they acknowledge there is still so much to do, learn, experience and grow.

“For now, we want to keep pushing the boundaries, keep bringing stories to life.”

The want to continue to encourage Māori and Pasifika organisations, people and groups who are doing cool things to develop solid media strategies and show themselves off.

“Because if you didn’t see it on social media, it didn’t happen,” laughs Rawinia.

Their dream is for more people to recognise their own potentials and push past self-doubt. “Do it and you’ll surprise yourself. Don’t overthink it, don’t wait for the right moment, just go all in.”

And what’s next for these two dynamic wāhine? As Amalia says with a confident grin, “Watch this space”.

Want to connect with Ara Media? Visit their website, or follow them on Instagram for the latest updates.