Unlocking Potential with Puna Pakihi Support

For the past eight years, Darcy Forrester has been at the helm of Big Red Training Solutions. Originally hailing from Rakiura Stewart Island, Darcy’s journey led him back to Te Waipounamu, where he now operates his business from Ōtautahi.

Big Red Training Solutions draws upon Darcy’s extensive experience, during his time at the New Zealand Police, where he served as a Police Officer, Sergeant, Senior Sergeant, and Police Physical Training Instructor/Trainer specializing in defensive tactics and self-defense. His subsequent role with a private training provider as a trainer further enriched his expertise. Today, Darcy focuses on delivering customised training programmes, specialising in communications and defensive tactics, to equip staff with skills ensuring their safety in challenging work environments.  This delivery reached over 60 different organisations with training delivered in four countries.

Darcy collaborates with organisations and their staff, seeking to understand and address the unique challenges they face in their daily lives.

“Some people get exposed to difficult and unsafe situations as part of their work. They may have confrontations that are part of doing their mahi. I work with them to get them to work and home safely. Drawing from my own experience, I share communication and de-escalation skills and self-defense techniques.”

Feeling that his business could achieve more, Darcy reached out to Puna Pakihi for support.

“I got in touch with Puna Pakihi to help me grow. The business is a little bit dormant, and I know I needed support.”

Puna Pakihi, recognising the potential for growth, connected Darcy with Tari White, an experienced business mentor with a background in Māori economic development. Tari’s extensive experience in business coaching and advisory having worked in both public and private sectors, has been an asset to Darcy’s journey.

“We are looking at where Darcy’s business is now and where he would like to be in 18 months or so. We have developed a clear strategy that outlines the pathway for how we are going to get there, and are now working on building his client database and developing a business profile to showcase his work.”

Tari runs Sevā Business Services, providing coaching, advisory, procurement capability building, networking, and funding support to small and medium businesses in Aotearoa. As a mentor, he is working closely with Darcy on Big Red Training Solutions’ business strategy and implementation plan.

“With support from Tari in developing a business strategy and implementation plan, I can drive the business forward,” Darcy says.

Darcy is already reaping the benefits of Tari’s mentorship.

“We want to make it sustainable for me. Honestly, I think I slow the business down because I’m trying to do everything by myself. The goal is to get some part-time administrative support in the future so I can focus on the business and training delivery.”

Apart from providing support grants, Puna Pakihi connects Ngāi Tahu whānau business owners with experienced business mentors like Tari White. Tari says having a business mentor helps owners see the bigger picture around their businesses.

“Your mentor can help develop a framework so you can focus on what’s important to you. We help business owners set goals, targets and define a pathway to get there.”

Tari’s advice for whānau in business is insightful.

“Be intentional about your business. Be clear about what you’re doing and why. What does success look like for you and how are you going to get there? Make sure that the business aligns with your values and who you are as a person. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish for your whānau. Remember that your business is there to support your life, not the other way around. Aligning your business with who you are as a person is crucial for sustainability.”