COOK ISLANDER, FAMILY LAW SPECIALIST, ENTERTAINER - KRISTY MORGAN
Originally from the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island in Napier, Kristy Morgan has recently set up her own practice, Kristy Morgan Barrister, in the hustle and bustle of South Auckland. She decided to venture out on her own in 2019, providing legal services as a family law specialist, after over ten years’ experience as a family lawyer.
Ironically, Kristy shares that she had no intentions of pursuing tertiary education, let alone become a lawyer. “After high school, I worked as a receptionist for the Ministry of Social Development. Through a cadetship program with the Ministry, I was transferred to Auckland and started working as a Case Manager”, says Kristy.
Moving to Auckland was a culture shock for Kristy, who shares that despite being of Cook Islands Maori descent, she was not exposed to her pacific culture very often.
“Growing up, I never felt connected to my culture. In high school, I was one of two pacific islanders in my class. The other was my best friend”, she smiles.
While they took part in the few cultural activities available throughout school, it was in Auckland where Kristy developed a genuine and personal connection with her pacific island culture and roots through pacific dance and music. It unlocked a passion that Kristy is now dedicated to. She shares that this has also sparked a passion and resurgence of the pacific identity and culture in her family.
Today, Kristy is the Operations and Marketing Director for MBrace Pacific Dance (NZ) Ltd.
Kristy also was driven to excel in her career, where she decided to pursue law school at the University of Auckland. Sharing her experience at University, Kristy highlights that she felt isolated at times, having no connections and going into university a little older than many students who have just come out of college.
“It was hard and finding my way was a challenge at times”, says Kristy.
The Pacific Islands Law Students Association leveraged that, providing assistance and facilitating networking with other students.
After graduating, Kristy spent 10 years working as a family lawyer in Auckland with Brookfields Lawyers, Denham Bramwell Lawyers, Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) and Swayne Macdonald Lawyers. Kristy shares that she decided to venture out on her own, with the desire to steer her own career and to build something for herself.
“I outgrew being an employee and wanted to challenge myself”, she shares. “I also want to show my children that anything is possible, that if I can do this, they can achieve anything they set their minds to.”
Kristy is committed to serving pacific families and communities, in particular families and/or individuals who are in difficult situations or need help and protection. Kristy is passionate about social justice and using her profession to achieve positive outcomes for pacific communities.
When asked about her future aspirations, Kristy reveals that she hopes to partner with other lawyers to perhaps start a firm, as well as provide mentoring and guidance for upcoming pacific lawyers.
But running a law practice is not as glamorous as it may seem. When asked about the challenges of running her own practice and being a start-up business, Kristy highlights that it is definitely daunting at the outset, “You quickly learn that you’re not only providing legal services, I also have to be my own secretary, I.T support person, financial planner and more. You have to do the work in order to generate your desired income. But this is what I expected, and I’m prepared for the challenge.”
The Family Law Specialist is inspired by her children, her community and being a pacific woman.
“I believe in achieving excellence and setting high standards. With that mindset, I’m inspired to help my community the best way I can, because they, the children, are our future.”
Her advice to young entrepreneurs or upcoming lawyers is that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can achieve your dreams and aspirations. Knowledge is power and setting goals and working towards them persistently makes the difference.
Kristy Morgan Barrister is located at the Pacific Business Hub. “When I first saw this place, I instantly fell in love with the décor and set up. It felt very Pacific and professional at the same time, a perfect blend of the two worlds.”
Kristy shares that the environment at the hub is supportive, where everyone celebrates each other’s successes and pushes each other to reach their own goals and aspiration. This is a change from the corporate environment in her line of work, where it can get competitive. “The Pacific Business Hub is empowering and uplifting. People genuinely want to see you succeed and that’s the best kind of place to start your business”, says Kristy.
SAMOAN OWNED - JASON VENU, EXPERIENCED INSURANCE INDEPENDENT ADVISOR
Jason Venu ironically started his journey in the insurance industry because of debt.
“When I started university, I made the mistake of getting myself more than one credit-card” he laughs. “Six months down the line and the bills started piling.” To pay off his debt, Jason left university for a call centre role at AA insurance.
Today, he runs his own insurance agency, offering and helping arrange insurance policies in Life, Health, House, Car, Contents and Commercial. Born in Wellington and raised in Auckland, Jason is of Samoan descent. His father is from the village of Faleula while his mother is from Levi Saleimoa. Married and a father of two, Jason Venu is a proud family man.
After nine years with AA Insurance, Jason left his role as a Motor Claims Customer Manager. He had earned and moved up key positions with good guidance in the company from his managers and CEO. He then moved to PIC Brokers as a Domestic Broker where he formed strong relationships with managers and brokers that he still has to this day. Jason is grateful for PIC who have supported him on his mission to reach the uninsured as well as helping to educate and protect more families.
By 2018, Jason decided to branch out on his own. While he is grateful for his time at PIC, Jason says that he wanted to explore new opportunities that would better align his career goals to his personal goals. “I realised that I needed to prioritise time with my family, especially my son at the time.”
Looking back, he acknowledges the support of his family, “My dad covered our mortgage for the first month so I could get things started.” He reveals that it’s challenging starting your own business, but having a strong support system does make things easier. Jason set up office at the Pacific Business Hub in July 2019.
Venturing on his own has surely given Jason more than just quality time with his now two sons. Jason shares that it has also given him opportunities to contribute and give back to the community. With thirteen years’ experience in the reputable corporate ranks of the insurance industry, Jason describes his new venture as enabling him to bring reputable insurance providers to Pacific people in New Zealand.
He has brought in insurers like Partners Life, Fidelity, One Path and more to connect with businesses at the hub. He admits of rarely dealing with Pacific people in corporate insurance space, realising now the need for inclusion of pacific islanders and vice versa. “You don’t know until you’re in it. Being here now, it’s a need I feel is necessary and crucial”.
Additionally, he adds that Pacific communities and businesses deserve quality insurers. “We want to elevate them to the best”, he says. Jason believes that many clients feel intimidated by and not worthy of higher tiered insurance companies, highlighting the need for better information and education about insurance for our people.
Some key initiatives have already been established, such as financial literacy programs for Pacific and Maori students and school scholarships. Jason is also partnering with other businesses to execute these programs.
When asked about what it means to be Pacific owned, Jason mentions that it’s something he is proud of. “What makes it worthwhile is when your parents are really proud of you, especially helping pacific people and communities.”
Looking ahead, Jason is excited about the future. “We have bigger goals in the New Year and want to expand our agency. At the moment, our main target is the uninsured. We hope to leverage that through our community programs and reaching out to our people.” In addition, he highlights that it has taken a long time and hard work to earn the trust of his clients, especially pacific people. “We don’t sell to our clients, we educate and earn them. We make sure our people are taken care of, and we hope they see that we genuinely want to help.”
Jason’s advice to other young entrepreneurs is to speak to the right people. “If you speak to the right people, they will get you connected and will put you in the right direction.” He encourages that the Pacific Business Hub is a great place to start. “Laura is one of those people”, he says. Jason reassures that in starting your business, you will go far if you take away fear and doubt.
An advocate for the Pacific Business Hub, Jason reflects that Laura really encouraged him to get his business started. He has also joined the Samoa Business Network, seeing that there was an active support for businesses at the hub. Jason promotes that the Pacific Business Hub is a practical learning and thriving environment for pacific businesses.
NIUEAN OWNED & FIRST PACIFIC ISP (INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER) IN NZ
With over twenty years’ experience running his ISP company in Niue, Emani Lui took a leap of faith in 2015 when he set up MakaNet. MakaNet is currently the first and only pacific-owned Internet Service Provider (ISP) company in New Zealand.
Emani Lui, who is the founder of MakaNet was born and raised in Niue and is from the village of Alofi. He travelled to New Zealand to complete his studies in Computer Studies at UNITEC and was later employed in the information systems sector of the Government of Niue.
In 1999, Emani established his first ISP Company Kaniu, which still operates today. Kaniu helped to deliver and improve internet services across Niue, from dial-up to wireless and now via satellite.
Emani recalls that when Kaniu was first set up, the internet was transitioning from just sending emails to online browsing and the like. “Our company helped to facilitate the internet during crucial periods of servicing on the island.”
He shares that his vision for Kaniu is to contribute to the development in Niue and to give back to the community. “Seeing how the internet has transformed people’s lives over the years has been rewarding for me and that’s why I’m passionate about what I do.”
But divine intervention led Emani to New Zealand at the end of 2014. “I stayed longer than expected. After nine months, I was still here. So, I decided to look into New Zealand’s ISP industry”, says Emani.
He discovered that similar to Niue, many parts of remote New Zealand still had limited access to reliable and fast internet. Emani saw the opportunity to provide internet services for those communities.
But setting up wasn’t easy for the entrepreneur who says it took many months of research, consulting and building his networks in the industry.
“Starting a business is not easy, especially outside of your home or your comfort zone”, says Emani. “It can also be a lonely journey. When things don’t go as planned, you have to believe in God, yourself and your vision. Never lose faith.”
By 2017, Emani had teamed up with several Kiwis and co-founded a new satellite broadband service, targeting New Zealand’s rural areas. The start-up company became one of three satellite broadband companies alongside Farmside and Wireless Nation, disrupting the industry by becoming the first to offer unlimited data via satellite.
Emani remembers journeying to the more remote areas of New Zealand where he installed satellite dishes for his clients.
“I would spend 3-4 days away from home, it was tough and lonely at times.” But his travels allowed him to better understand the industry and the different parts of New Zealand’s internet services.
After months on the road, Emani was curious whether there was a pacific-owned ISP in New Zealand. “I approached Laura to find out”, he says. Coincidentally, when Emani had met with Laura, who is the founder of The Pacific Business Hub (PBH), she had been planning to switch internet providers.“ She shared the issues she was facing with her existing provider.
So, I told her that I could do her internet and phone for the hub”, says Emani. In July 2019, MakaNet secured The Pacific Business Hub as their first customer.
MakaNet have now extended from broadband via satellite to fibre broadband, allowing them to penetrate into urban areas and making them the first pacific-owned ISP in New Zealand.
Emani shares that venturing into the urban markets has helped to grow his business. “We are now able to cater our services for our pacific communities and pacific businesses through our fibre network service”, he says.
In addition, Makanet’s telecommunications solutions service aims to empower consumers to make informed choices about their internet plans.
“At the end of the day, we are here to help people receive the best value for their money – even if it means that another provider may have a better suited product that meet the needs and means of our clients”, says Emani.
When asked about the future, MakaNet strives to become one of the top ISP companies out of existing ISPs in New Zealand. Emani believes that with God, anything is possible. As he reflects on his journey of having to overcome many challenges, he says that above everything, the biggest challenge is having the courage to just do it.
“We all fear failure, but we have to activate our faith and put our trust in God.” Emani adds that limited sources of funding and generating capital at the outset are the inevitable challenges of being a start-up company. “You will never have enough finances or resources, but you must have a plan of action – your business plan and how you execute and revise it is necessary.”
Emani advises other entrepreneurs to stay grounded and humble. He also encourages to seek wise and sound counsel and to surround yourself with the right people. When asked about what it means to be pacific owned, Emani says that MakaNet is a calling from God to serve his pacific people.
Today, MakaNet operates from their office located at the Pacific Business Hub. As Emani shares, “Our customers have grown since we linked up with the hub, most of them have come to us through our networks here.”
The ISP entrepreneur shares that the hub enables collaboration, sharing, mentoring and networking amongst pacific businesses and entrepreneurs.
“Working with them every day, side by side inspires me and my team. We all share the same vision for our pacific people and strive towards creating opportunities for them and our communities.”
The team behind MakaNet is Emani Lui (Managing Director), Nia Pearson (Project Director) and Joseph Sionetuato (Technical Manager).