Ko wai tātou

IDIA was founded in 2017 by Miriame Barbarich (Ngāti Maru ki Hauraki, Ngāti Pikiao), Dr Johnson Witehira (Tamahaki, Ngāi Tū-te-auru), and John Moore (Ngāti Pākehā) bringing together years of industry and academic experience in design, digital and creative arts.

Since then the IDIA whānau has continued to grow, with a number of Māori and indigenous researchers and designers joining us. In 2023 Keita Twist (Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), a senior service designer with over 20 years experience joined our leadership team, further strengthening IDIA.
IDIA whānau in the office between Māori artworks.
IDIA whānau in the office between Māori artworks.

Our Approach

Te Ara Māori

“Ki hea hao ai te rangatahi?” Hei waenganui, kaua hei ngā taunga tawhito i te wā o te Māoritanga, kaua hei ngā taunga hou rawa o te Pākehā engari hei waenganui, kei reira te mano o te ika e pōrangirangi noa ana.

“Where shall we set our net?” The answer is between – not in the ancient conclusions of the time of our Māoritanga, nor in the entirely new conceptions of the European, but rather between.

Our kaupapa is to use our Indigenous worldview to create solutions to commercial, social and environmental opportunities and issues. Through our mahi we aim to influence and lead a global change in the design of products and services – creating solutions that improve futures and outcomes for people, communities, businesses and governments.

We spearhead design projects that influence change globally – improving wellbeing, education, the future of work, and economic stability. We use our cultural and commercial knowledge, experience, and creative capability to push back against the homogenising and colonising effects of globalisation and technology.

“Not about us, without us”

Culture Centred Design helps us focus on designing futures through an Indigenous lens and supporting Indigenous authorship and ownership over the design and technologies in people’s lives.

Tā tātou kaupapa

Māori owned and Māori-led
Unlike most other Pākehā (and some Māori) agencies, we’re Māori-owned and led. We don’t “partner” with Māori to get the contract, or hire in Māori to tick boxes. We are Māori, and we do the mahi to the highest standard.
Equitable futures for Aotearoa
Through our CCD process we engage with communities to deeply understand the inequities, imbalances and issues they encounter and work collaboratively to imagine, design and realise new tomorrows.
Building new tools for the future
We actively grow the capacity and capability of Indigenous designers through funded internships and partnerships with tertiary and research sectors, relationships with Iwi Māori, and the Māori CreativeTech sector.

The Team

Who keeps the waka moving?

Our team is filled with Indigenous creatives and change makers working together with a shared vision to transform Māori futures for the better.

Miriame Barbarich black and white profile photo.
Dr Johnson Witehira
Co-founder & Creative Director
Tamahaki, Hinekura, Ngāpuhi, Ngai Tūteauru
John Moore black and white profile photo.
John Moore
Co-founder & Creative Director
Ngāti Pākehā, Tāngata Tīriti
Johnson Witehira black and white profile photo.
Keita Twist
Director, Strategist
Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa
Keita Twist black and white profile photo.
Miriame Barbarich
Ngāti Maru ki Hauraki, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Raukawa
William Minty black and white profile photo.
William Minty
Senior Designer
Te Roroa, Ko Ngāi Te Rore
Natalia Spooner black and white profile photo.
Natalia Spooner
Creative Adviser
Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga
See Linkedin Profile
Lucy Shand black and white profile photo.
Lucy Shand
Service Designer
Te Āti Awa
Georgia Gifford black and white profile photo.
Georgia Gifford
Design & Research
Ngāi Tamaterangi, Ngāi Tūhoe, Kuki Airani, Ma’ohi
Tania Gould-Smith black and white profile photo.
Tania Gould-Smith
Office Manager
Ngāti Pākeha, Tāngata Tīriti
Renee Waiwiri black and white profile photo
Renee Waiwiri
Design & Research
Ngāti Tara, Ngāti Naho, Ngāti Hineuru
Renee Waiwiri black and white profile photo
Kimi Whaanga
Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahungungu, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mamoe, Waitaha
View of the IDIA headquarters with a few team member working.


What is Āpōpō?
ĀPŌPŌ is an indigenous design internship and hub in the heart of Te Whanganui-a-Tara. The ĀPŌPŌ intern programme is focused on growing the capability and capacity of Māori and Indigenous People's participation, success and leadership in design and innovation. The hub is a unique indigenous environment where Māori and indigenous people and businesses – who are passionate about design and innovation – can collectively learn, work, collaborate and thrive.

What does the future look like?
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everyones lives forever – we have a new normal, a new set of expectations. To accommodate this change we’re pivoting ĀPŌPŌ – we’re offering our design space to help design business and community solutions – providing an environment and IDIA facilitators and designers who can realise outcomes through an indigenous lens.

We’re looking to partner more actively with the education sector so our Māori students can harness their birthright – their indigenous knowledge and use it as their superpower and key differentiator in the industry. And so that Pākehā and international students have a clear understanding of their role in considering indigenous concepts in their work and building indigenous partnerships for realising designed outcomes in a commercial context.

And, we want ĀPŌPŌ to be a vital, busy, noisey, cultural space – where people, culture and creativity come together to innovate for the future.