How AKO began

Ko wai tāua? Who are we?
Ko Motatau te Maunga
Ko Taumarere te Awa
Ko Mataatua te Waka
Ko Ngāti Hine te Hapu
Ko Ngāpuhi te Iwi
Ko Miria te Marae
Ko Te Rapunga te Wharenui
Ko Hahaunga te Wharekai
Ko Te Ruki Kawiti rāua Ko Kawa ōku tupuna
No Waiomio ahau
Ko Paraire Herengitana (Cherrington) raua ko Heather Shalders ō māua mātua

We are sisters. We come from a family of 5 children. Both Ruby and I were born in Whakatū (Nelson) and moved north (Te Tai Tokerau) where we were blessed to be surrounded by our whānau, Aunties, Uncles and cousins. 
Our Dad is from Waiomio and our Mum is from Oamaru. We are a perfect mix of Te Tai Tokerau and Te Wai Pounamu.
Growing up our home was always beaming with volume and often was very busy. Our Mum still loves blasting the radio in the mornings (as she did when we were young), singing and dancing and waking everyone up. Every road trip we took, Dad had his favourites on tape, then upgraded to CD. We grew up to Dr Hook, Queen and Prince Tui Teka Soundtrack and every now and then Billy T James rang through our ears. Music was always being played.
Now, as adults we love hearing our parents sing and watching them enjoy their favourite songs together.
Ruby was 5 and I was 10 years old when we became Aunties. I clearly remember holding, changing and settling our beautiful niece as a baby. Rubys recollections are a little different, our niece felt more like a sibling to her - please note Ruby is our potiki and there was no way that role was to be taken from her.
Coming from a big whānau, we were always celebrating the arrivals of precious pēpi. Without realising it, our older sisters and cousins became our role models. We watched them become mothers. We watched them balance the demands and challenges but yet theses seemed so minor. 
We watched our whānau love and care for us all. These moments provided us with the strength and confidence to become mothers ourselves. 
Ruby has 3 incredible tama with her husband Waipu. Tautahi, Hemi and Tahu-Potiki. They live in the beautiful winter-less north. 
My husband Chris and I have 2 daughters Amelia and Aurora, and our tama Connor. We are based in Franklin on the west coast of Aotearoa.
Through our journey in motherhood we found there was limited Te Reo Māori
 pieces to celebrate our pēpi (baby), our tamariki (children). This is where AKO began. We wanted to provide beautiful pieces to share and encourage the use of Te Reo Māori in the home. 
Ruby is in her third year of study in Māori language. She is an absolute wealth of knowledge. She is the face that appears in socials - I'm way too whakamā.
We do manage to share the load of the business and help each other when needed. 
It is a blessing to do what we do. We are two sisters who continue to support one another and give each other courage to make the big business decisions. So join us on our journey as we share the ins and outs of owning a business as well as a feature from Dad, speaking on his upbringing in Waiomio and his experiences at the Marae.
We are whānau, we are AKO.
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