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Aug 17, 2017

Students fuse Te Reo Maori with fashion


Portraying more than just words on a shirt is important to a group of Tokoroa High School business studies students.

As part of the national Young Enterprise Scheme (YES), teenagers Casey Clark, Lachlan Poko, Jordan Taylor, and Jay McLaren-Harris were tasked with looking at something in society that was declining and someone that was increasing.

What's emerged is a thriving t-shirt business called Tumeke that fuses Te Reo Maori with fashion.

"Our mission is to increase the visibility and use of Te Reo Maori and so what better way to do that than put it on what people wear everyday," Jay said.

"But we have also done a lot of research so that everything on our shirts serves a purpose. You see other shirts with Mean Maori Mean or Kia Kaha but Tumeke is more than just words on a shirt."

"The logo for example is located on the upper left hand side of the chest which represents our culture is at the heart of the company, and on the back we have printed simple easy-to-learn quotes with English translations and that represents that language is the backbone to us achieving our goal," he said.

Casey said their shirts, which are made in New Zealand, having been selling like hot cakes.

"Sales have been rapid. It has been really positive and people have been really helpful," he said.

"They are not just buying one t-shirt, it's more like they are buying one for their whole family."

"In the first three weeks we sold 50 and our plan is to sell 200 by the end of the year so we are also looking at offering a wider range of products so we can take it further. It's been eye opening that we can actually do something with this product," he said.

Lachlan, who has been in charge of marketing, said it's been an interesting journey.

"We started with teachers here and there spreading the word but it's actually through social media that we have got most of our customers. It's been unreal," he said.

Jordan said seeing the business take off was rewarding.


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