Love Stories: What Hoete & Adrienne Have Learned From Love

The challenges of navigating shared lives are immense, but it's been worth the rewards for this loved-up couple


Hoete and Adrienne with their daughter Harete. Photo / Babiche Martens

Partners in life, love and business, Adrienne Whitewood and Hoete Mitai-Ngatai have been together for 15 years. First meeting as teenagers, they now have a child (soon to be joined by another) and a chocolate business, Kōkō. Adrienne’s other passion, fashion design, has been featured on the pages of Viva.

How did you meet and/or what was your first date like?
HoeteWe met at work at Tamaki Māori Village as we were both working there. She was a guide and I was in the concert party.
Adrienne: I was a tour guide and Hoete worked in the culture group. I don’t think we ever went on an actual date, we just kind of hung out and got takeaways together. I actually met Hoete as a child there as well; our parents had worked there for 20 years. Plus he used to man his parents' shop and I went in one time and asked him how much something cost and that's when I realised he didn’t speak English he just gave me a hand signal to wait and that kind of stayed with me. Not everyone lives the same life and I have always found him to be special like that; even today he pushes me always to speak Māori, not because of any other reason but his desire to communicate in his birth language and I admire that about him so much.

What originally caught your eye about them, and what have you discovered about them during your relationship?
Adrienne: I’ll be honest looks definitely but I found a friend for life. I genuinely enjoy Hoete every day of my life, the good days and the bad. He’s my best friend

What personal growth have you experienced in your relationship?
Adrienne: Starting a business together, Kōkō indigenous chocolate, has been a different change, one we are constantly working on. Being married is one thing, when starting a business together a whole new life starts — the good, the bad, the ugly. It’s not pretty sometimes, but that’s life, isn’t it?
HoeteWe have grown a lot, because we both believe in Christ our Lord now, and both our values and morals we like to align with the Bible's teachings.

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How do you spend your time together?
HoeteWe are co-owners of our business Kōkō, so we are both working hard to try and get that up and running, but we also love to eat healthily and relax together to watch movies and interesting videos.
AdrienneWe love to eat out and try new places when we travel for work, it’s my favourite thing to do together. We really want to try Hiakai when we’re in Wellington next!

What do you do to support your partner?
HoeteI always offer to take our baby with me to go visit my parents and family to give her some alone time. I also try to clean the house up as much as possible and do the dishes so she doesn’t have to.
AdrienneHoete does part-time acting and he’s an athlete, so I always make sure if he has events on we go and support him and travel with him.

What has been the greatest challenge you have faced?
Adrienne: I think [it’s] understanding and respecting each other’s roles — how they play out in the workplace culturally and in a whānau structure. We both have equal mana as parents, business individuals, and wahine and tane Māori.
HoeteTo not do things that make me happy in order for her to be happy, such as doing hobbies like kapa haka or playing sports because she was due with our first child. That is difficult to give up things you love to do.

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How do you work on your relationship and keep it healthy?
AdrienneKarakia daily; having our spiritual word and aligning ourselves spiritually is the only way we find helps set us up everyday. If I do not centre my life on God daily I am not totally in tune with the day.
Hoete: We try to spend time together alone and do the fun things we like to do together such as complete work tasks together or go travelling the countryside.

What is the hardest thing about being in love, and what is the best?
AdrienneThe hardest thing is compromising. You can’t fight to be right, you have to fight to make it work. The best thing about being in love is creating a life together that’s our own. We can create our own destiny and I love that my partner understands this principle; we live and wake up with intention every day, and we choose to live an elevated life.
Hoete: Minimising arguments and getting over petty things as quick as possible. Once you pass that hump you get to enjoy each other’s company again. Another challenge is actually being happy with myself if we aren’t ‘together’, I want to learn how to move on and be happy with myself even if my partner wasn’t there for me emotionally. It's not as easy as some may think.

What is your most significant achievement as a couple?
Hoete: We had a beautiful baby girl, and we love and adore her so much. We love striving to be the best versions of ourselves as well, with Jesus Christ as our cornerstone, so I think that is one of our biggest achievements together.
AdrienneAside from having our beautiful girl Harete, starting our boutique chocolate business Kōkō is the biggest highlight

What do you find most attractive about your partner? 
Adrienne: I find the way he speaks Māori very attractive; he has a beautiful tone, and I love to listen to him speak Māori to our baby and me.

What do you admire about each other?
Adrienne: The man, father and business person that he has become in his own right. He’s not perfect but I see him strive daily to be better.
Hoete: I admire how assertive she is when it comes to her business — especially with her business relationships — and also how she doesn’t like to feel ripped off or get the short end of the stick. She is a confidant when it comes to conferences and public speaking and she is passionate about her business and her family.

What does love mean to you?
Adrienne: Love in Māori is aroha, which means ‘to feel, concern, compassion’. Aroha mai aroha atu means love given and love received — that’s what love means to me.
HoeteLove means listening to your partner and understanding them. Love is having self-love as well, and being physically, mentally and spiritually healthy. Love is also being ambitious and striving to be the best person you can be for your partner. It is also about being caring and present to your partner.

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