Interview with World Class New Zealander Maru Nihoniho

World Class New Zealanders are high achieving New Zealanders who are making their mark on the world and defining NZ’s image internationally. These Kiwis are all outstanding and have worked hard for their international success. Kea sat down with World Class New Zealander Maru Nihoniho for a Q&A about her journey, being a New Zealander and what advice she has for New Zealanders going forward.

Maru Nihoniho2


How has your New Zealand background contributed to your journey/success?

Growing up in NZ and growing up Maori is like growing up in two worlds and I think this helped when I entered into the business world as I had a flexible way of thinking and learning.  Being Maori we also look at things with a holistic view and not just look at one thing but everything around it. If I apply that thinking to gaming then the game becomes more than a game for entertainment, it becomes a vehicle to educate, to train and a tool that someone can use to create their own content in which they become the teacher. 

What are some stand out failures/problems you faced on your journey and how did you overcome/learn from them?

There's this new saying ' fail fast'.  There were a couple of moments throughout my journey where I 'failed slow'.  I had invested lots of time and money into a project over a long period of time and failed at the end.  I've learned what works and what doesn't and that has helped streamline anything I do into faster planning so if I was to fail it would be fast saving time and money.

What in your professional career or personal life are you most proud of?

Professional career - I'm most proud of my first game I had published world wide called 'Cube' for the PlayStation Portable.

Personal life - My whanau, the support, the critique, the encouragement.  I wouldn't have been able to get as far as I have without them.

What’s an important issue which needs attention in your industry?

Games are still seen as toys for young nerdy boys when in fact statistics shows that game players are an even 50 50 mix.

However, there is an issue of the lack of girls making games or working in the games industry.  We need to encourage and show girls that they can absolutely put their creative and technical skills into game design and development.

What is one key lesson you want to share with New Zealand entrepreneurs/businesses/SMEs?

Always prepare for disruption or how your business will look in the near future.  Being in the games development business we are always being disrupted, new technology, platforms change, software updates, we're always learning and adapting. Think of how you can take your existing model and adapt it, be flexible, it's really important these days.

In your experience what do Kiwis excel at in the eyes of the world?

Creativity and innovation.

What are the biggest growth challenges and potential opportunities for New Zealand companies/businesses/SMEs?

We have been known as this clean, green, innovative and creative country but that image is slowly being eroded.  We have a huge opportunity to have this image back and keep it always.  Advances in bio-tech, agri-tech, digital tech and automation gives us the pathway to create sustainable, scalable and profitable businesses with the economy, community and environment in mind.

What will be New Zealand’s biggest strength in 10 years?

Our biggest strength could be in our exports of clean green tech and related products and services from food through to health products, from digital education through to 'know how' systems and expertise.



Maru Nihoniho, CEO of Metia Interactive, is the first Māori female game developer in the world. Using her own resources, she developed a game called CUBE, which PlayStation offered her a contract for in 2007. Maru has also won awards from the United Nations for a game to help young people navigate depression, which she collaborated with The University of Auckland to create.

Kea Connect, proudly supported by ASB, is Kea’s business connection service. Realise your global ambitions by connecting with industry experts around the world like Maru, who can give you valuable advice to help you on your way. Contact Kea today.