#StandWithManaaki – proud to be whanau

I am proud to be a member of the Manaaki whanau

In March 2020, when many small business owners saw their world falling apart, Manaaki.io stood up an army of volunteers, successful business people, mentors and advisors, to show their support for SME owners by answering their questions, providing advice, and just being there for them. I was (and still am) one of those “helpers”.

Motivated by a desire to help businesses survive, exhorted by the determined and passionate Andy Hamilton, we responded, often within hours, to desperate calls for help and advice. 

Could we save all those businesses – probably not. Did it help that we were there to listen, and suggest survival strategies – I do hope so, and the many, many messages of support on the Manaaki platform suggest that we made a difference (and continue to do so).

That was the genesis of Manaaki… and the platform for filling what in 2020 turned out to be the digital capability void in small business NZ. Vast swathes of retail businesses had no idea how to serve contactless coffee, promote and sell their goods and services online, email their customers, or even build a simple digital presence.

In March 2020, I stood up for Manaaki because I genuinely wanted to help, and because Andy Hamilton asked me to help. I have known Andy for more than a decade. While we have often disagreed on things, I know for sure that he is a good man, who has dedicated most of his working life to building a better New Zealand. When Andy asks, you KNOW it’s for a good cause.

In November 2022, I am standing up for Manaaki now because there are forces of evil out there who are trying to destroy them. A swirling torrent of rumour and innuendo, around what appears to be a business deal gone wrong, is literally sucking the lifeblood out of this incredible community. Thanks to the wider leakage of the Callaghan Innovation commissioned private investigator reports, the allegation of ‘unreasonable bullying’ is being played out in social, and now national media, with the founders of Manaaki the targets of this dirt-digging, value destroying campaign.

The fact that they have not been given details of the evidence against them is patently unfair, especially when “Confidential” reports have apparently been shared widely between government agencies, essentially black-balling them from any future contracts. THIS IS NOT OKAY. Everyone has a right to face their accusers; a right to defend themselves.

The personal attack by a national newspaper on Pat McFie late last week – to which he has responded in the article I’ve linked here – means that I can no longer stand by without raising my voice in their support.

If you, like me, are one of the many volunteers supporting the Manaaki kaupapa…

If you are one of those many SME owners who gained a faint ray of hope (or even some practical business-saving advice) from talking to us, or watching the many inspiring live interviews on IG celebrating business success…

If you are one of the  army of digital doers that Manaaki helped to create, supporting SMEs to go online…

Or if you simply believe that people, and organisations, should be judged by ALL their deeds, not just the things that went wrong, please join me, and #StandWithManaaki by making your support visible to the haters and the knockers.

I leave you with a quote from one of the many businesses that has benefited from Manaaki, posted in response to the current attacks on the organisation:

“It’s soo sad to see this in 2022! God bless you and your team as you navigate through this. I have experienced the impact of your program and today have an award winning business that was only possible through employing a graduate of your program. We’re here for you. Don’t give up!!!!”


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