Mata Puia’s parents have spent big parts of their lives working as builders and growers around Ngatangiia.
“Growing up, my parents would tell me stories about their younger days and how they worked in the taro patch, plant and pick oranges, even how they use to walk to school with no shoes,” she says.
Her parents always supported and guided her to get a job in an office, as they didn’t want her to work in the sun, rain and dirt like they did.
So in the late 1980s, her parents decided to migrate to New Zealand for work and to give their children an opportunity to get a better education.
Mata got into computers at the age of 15 and started tutoring elderly people in her community.
She pursued her education and proudly graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology.
“My parents were so proud,“ she says.
Now, the 39-year-old returning Cook Islander is the owner of a new and exciting IT business and is determined to share her knowledge with her fellow islanders.
She not only specialises in IT, but also in Airbnb property management – so for Cook Islanders wanting to get a fair idea of what Airbnb is and how you can get into this business, Mata Puia-Huch, 39, is the business woman to call.
Puia married and migrated to Australia where she gained nearly 20 years working experience in among a wide variety of businesses such as New South Wales and Queensland government agencies and large private corporations.
“I worked long and hard to climb the corporate ladder to an IT guru/manager. It was fun and challenging being the only young Cook Islander woman in the IT industry. I highly encourage more of our people to venture into IT,” she says.
During her career, Puia-Huch took an interest in property investing, before later getting into Airbnb investment.
“I’ve done it all from building from a plan, minor and major renovations and starting an Airbnb property. My father was a builder so I guess I get it from him.”
She moved back to New Zealand three years ago and decided to come back home to Rarotonga to help and care for her parents.
“My father is turning 80 years old next month, and is very happy that his favourite child is back,” she says.
“The stars all aligned for me to return home to help my parents, so I decided to start my own IT and Airbnb property management business so I can give back all my knowledge and experience back to my country.”
Her intention was to come home for a few months and help her dad – but then she decided to stay.
“A couple of weeks back I created a post on the Rarotonga Community and Beyond Facebook page to introduce myself, returning back home and the skill I possess.
“The love, support and feedback from everyone was very touching and overwhelming. I’m ecstatic to be back home and I’m so thrilled to start my new businesses.”
So what is Mata’s business about?
Raro IT solutions specialise in IT – basically anything to do with computers. “Our main target is to assist small to large local businesses and government departments here in the Cook Islands.”
Puia-Huch says depending on clients’ computer issues or requirements, they aim to resolve them here at their front door in Rarotonga, otherwise if the scope of work is large and complex, they connect and manage the IT project with other experienced professionals across the world at a competitive rate.
“For local Cook Islanders only, we can troubleshoot and fix their computers at a local rate. My gift for my country is to bring the online world to the Cook Islands and to give the Cook Islands back to the world. We provide low and reasonable rates because we are 110 per cent local owned.”
They provide a free consultation for up to an hour either at their office or at a local café.
For the Airbnb Property Management business, they can assist you with setting up your home to meet the Airbnb standard and to advertise your property online across multiple platforms and integrate your booking so you can see everything on your smartphone.
They can also organise airport transfers, cleaners, handyman and gardeners to care for your property. “Our goal is to get our clients a great review from the guest.”
Her Airbnb business is called Akono Are, and they liaise with property owners to prepare their homes for Airbnb and meeting Airbnb standards.
“We guarantee 4-5 star reviews from all our guest. I’m also an Airbnb superhost and have been managing my own Airbnb property for the last 2-3 years.”
Puia-Huch is currently working out of a home office in Muri, with meetings by appointment.