Our Team

L-R: Manawa, Mel, Amanda, Taylor & Nia

Manawa Udy - Founder & CEO

No Te Arawa, Mataatua me Tainui ahau, tenei te mihi nui kia koe.


Born and raised on the shores of Te Rotorua nui a Kahumatamomoe, I have a varied background which has seen me work as a photographer, storyteller, innovator and entrepreneur. I currently host a Podcast Show called Ngahere Talks and am based in Manukau. I believe in the innate power we have as Maori to be innovative, creative and entrepreneurial and have a mission to see our people know and grow in their potential.
 
I spent many years as a youth mentor and held several youth and community development roles within Auckland Council. My diverse experience in social innovation and entrepreneurship has been applied to start initiatives that benefit at-risk young people, refugees and now the creators, innovators and entrepreneurs of Manukau and Aotearoa.
 
I have founded multiple social impact initiatives, our newest baby is Konei - building and boosting Aotearoa's brands and the entrepreneurs behind them, Konei is the ecommerce platform he connects the world to Aotearoa's brands. Our main kaupapa is Ngahere Communities, a social enterprise building an intentional community of creators, innovators and entrepreneurs in South Auckland, and also the operators of Te Haa o Manukau.  Our sister NFP enterprise Ngahere Foundation which tackles inequality through education and enterprise, and started the Tukua movement. My previous initiatives include Bob + Bob Creative, a digital storytelling agency specialising in telling stories of social, cultural and environmental impact using today's digital platforms. And the Puketapapa Community Driving School, a one-for-one model driving school, providing support to young people and ethnic women in NZ’s most ethnically diverse community, Mt Roskill.

 

Amanda Kirkwood - Manager

Kia ora!

My name is Amanda, born in Auckland - I spent my younger years here and my later teenage years in the North, where my Ngati Whatua roots lie.  

Out of high school I began working in retail, before I found myself gravitating towards the challenge of management. Here I learnt the value of a great team, and gained the abilities that would allow me to move my career into a behind the scenes role in planning.

Forever grateful for my previous experiences, I’m excited as a Maori woman to foster a platform that encourages and highlights what I believe is some of the most talented, and untapped potential on our planet - that of our native people of the pacific.

This for me is just the beginning as we build and support Aotearoa together. Our chance to share and showcase “us”, to define our brand and control the outlook of our country from a creative and entrepreneurial standpoint. Konei for Kiwis, is a massive opportunity, and one I personally am passionate about seeing come to fruition. Bringing about the success of as many kiwi enterprises as possible, is definitely the most fulfilling part of my role.

Mel Tautalanoa - Relationships & Programmes

Kia ora I am Mel I was born and raised in the bustling city of Sydney Australia. I am a proud Maori and I whakapapa to both Ngati Whatua and Te Arawa. Growing up in Australia definitely afforded me many opportunities, but it also deprived me of the beauty of our people and our land. I moved to New Zealand in 2002 and that began a journey, one I am still on, to learning more about my whakapapa and appreciating how precious it is to be tangata whenua.

I have always been a bit of a tutu and have a background in music, Travel and Tourism, Project Management, TV production and completed a degree in Midwifery. I grew up in a wealthy suburb with wealthy friends and my parents couldn’t afford all the cool activities my friends parents could. So I hustled- I washed cars, baked muffins & cookies and would go door knocking in my hood to sell them, I made horrible hair scrunchies and sold them to the neighbours and family friends, I babysat, walked dogs and begged the shop owner up the road for a job after school- I actually didn't leave the store until she promised I could start working the next day! This was the start of my long journey into becoming an entrepreneur and a business owner.

Today I have founded and am involved in several social enterprises and businesses, the latest being Konei. In 2015 I Co founded Bob + Bob Creative, a digital storytelling agency specialising in telling stories of social, cultural and environmental impact using today's digital platforms. Then in 2017 My husband and I started our Building and Construction company First Kings Construction, where we take a holistic approach to developing and building the capacity of our team.

In 2018 I was involved in Founding Ngahere Communities, where I am a Director and Relationship Manager. Ngahere Communities is a social enterprise building an intentional community of creators, innovators and entrepreneurs in South Auckland, and also the operators of Te Haa o Manukau. Our sister NFP enterprise Ngahere Foundation which tackles inequality through education and enterprise, and started the Tukua movement, one of my favourite projects to be leading!

 

Taylor Sturt - Marketing

Yo my name's Taylor.

Born and bred in Auckland, NZ, I travelled for the first time last year to Canada, and realised Aotearoa is the best place in the world.

I love marmite on toast and am a huge advocate for anti-vegemite campaigns. All jokes aside I'm passionate about learning and sharing peoples stories, and building the future, today.

I obtained a Bachelor of Communication Design at AUT in 2018, with a major in Creative Entrepreneurship. Since graduating I have spent all of my time in marketing and sales, and as someone who loves to communicate and talk, I believe I have found my fit. I have a natural aptitude for money and technology, and through various trials and tribulations I have now found myself here at Konei helping people, help people.

 

Nia Falanitule - System Design

Faakalofa lahi atu, my name is Nia

I was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, but my roots, my ancestry, connect me to the Beautiful island of Niue, aka The Rock.
 
I am a creative at heart and a new born Entrepreneur (Co-Owner of NiuEats), with a deep love for my culture, I live by the belief that everything you put out into the universe comes back. So I live and love with purpose, and I celebrate the success of others as if they are my own, our people thriving in the entrepreneurial world is a beautiful thing to see!
 
My life journey has blessed me with an amazing husband and two beautiful boys. I am totally outnumbered and they all drive me absolutely bananas sometimes lmao but i wouldn't have it any other way.
 
Career wise I have been in a variety of amazing industries (airline, retail, telecommunications, ecommerce) which has taught me a bunch of transferable skills that have not only helped me as an entrepreneur but also life in general.
 
Being part of building Konei is an awesome experience for me. The concept and the amount of love, time and energy that has gone into uniting some amazing Aotearoa brands into one place is inspirational.