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First-ever The Generator Market Day a Success

Over 100 people enjoyed the first-ever The Generator market day held at the Papatoetoe Food Hub over the weekend. The Generator initiative supports whānau and communities in high need areas in New Zealand to develop their own solutions to their financial challenges through action and enterprise. Funded by the Ministry of Social Development, The Generator is delivered by Vaka Tautua and Emerge Aotearoa.

The market day was an opportunity for the recipients of The Generator - who call themselves "Generites" - to showcase their businesses (enterprises) and sell their products. They and their supporting Community Generators were from the East Cape, Kaikohe, Porirua, Pukekohe, South Auckland, Tuakau and Whanganui. Their stalls ranged from Māori and Samoan language flashcards, a barber, pottery, woven baskets, food and bone setting therapy.

Owaronuku Tit Tar and Reflexology bone setting therapist, Perry Haenga, from Tikitiki, is thankful for the funding and mentoring support she has received from The Generator. It has helped with her business planning, marketing and promotions, and enabled her to purchase equipment and undertake further training. Perry has been high demand over the past four months, travelling weekly across the Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty and Auckland regions to “set” bones – in backs, fingers, necks, all over.

“The Generator has helped me focus. Before I probably wasn’t making the best use of my time, you know… I was just going everywhere… but now, with The Generator, I have a plan. I’m more disciplined… working smarter… and really focused on the business… on growing it, and supporting our whānau,” said Perry Haenga.

Samoan husband and wife duo, Mara and Norman Smitlen, are also thankful for the support they have received for their business, Made in the Dark. Their handwoven baskets made from plastic strappings are proving very popular, with waiting lists for orders in New Zealand and Samoa. Their story is even more inspiring, given Norman is blind and Mara partially blind.

“Our main motivation is fa’alavelave (cultural obligations): teamwork to cover family emergencies,” said Mara Smitlen.

“The Generator has provided a great chance for us to witness and show the world that you can do anything… inspire others; that life is beyond what you can see.”

The Generator pilot was launched in August and is already exceeding its targets. National Manager, Therese Ireland-Smith, is thrilled how the pilot is going.

“The Generator provides real tangible hope… it is a lifeline for whānau who may be trapped in a series of circumstances beyond their control, where their financial disadvantage is compounded by multiple disadvantage or tragedies… I feel blessed seeing the difference The Generator makes in their lives,” said Therese Ireland-Smith.

Made in the Dark, Norman and Mara Smitlen, with their handwoven bags and baskets.

For more information on The Generator, please visit


Vaka Tautua is a national “by Pacific for Pacific” health and social services provider. Established in 2007 by the PIASS and Malologa Trusts, we are a not-for-profit limited liability company registered with the Charities Commission.

We meet industry standards and have quality accreditation. We hold DAA Group Certification against Standard NZS 8134:2008 Health and Disability Services; Ministry of Social Development Social Sector Accreditation Standards Level 2, and Accreditation as a Living Wage employer.

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