Finding new global partners, who are driven to improve the lives of tribal members rather than simply focusing on commercial profit, is the catalyst for inviting leading United States-based, Indian-owned corporations to Tainui’s first economic summit.
Waikato Tainui believes cutting edge socio-economic models designed and used by several US tribes, including the Choctaw River tribe, will help to unleash the untapped potential of iwi throughout New Zealand.
Mississippi-based Choctaw Corporation employs more than 6000 people in tribally-owned businesses throughout eight states of the US.
The multibillion-dollar company owns a variety of businesses which include aerospace manufacturers, motor vehicle and electronic assembly plants, casinos, golf courses, theme parks, hotels, commercial real estate and US defence contracts.
Choctaw leaders have lifted their people from poverty, unemployment, poor educational achievement and benefit dependency to become one of the most vibrant and successful socio-economic Indian models of development in America.
Led by a former Green Beret soldier, Phillip Martin, the Choctaw people have turned their fortunes around in a single generation.
The inaugural Tainui Economic Summit has attracted speakers ranging from LaDonna Harris, a senior adviser to former US President Bill Clinton, to NZ Business Roundtable chairman Rob McLeod.
Peter Hahn, the deputy treasurer of the Florida-based Seminole tribe, which bought the Hard Rock Cafe worldwide franchise in a deal worth $965 million, will also address the conference.
Tainui and Tainui waka representatives, iwi leaders and administrators in social development sector will attend the invitation-only conference.
Learning from successful socio-economic models in New Zealand and abroad is critical as iwi move to an unprecedented era of development.
As iwi settle their treaty claims, the need to be judicious about managing their resources is paramount. The temptation of immediately employing “flashy” consultants to buy or establish new businesses to grow tribal settlements can be a trap for new players.
Taking stock and talking to other iwi who are already walking the post-settlement pathway are crucial.
Increasing the tribal wealth is a huge responsibility and should be managed by the most skilled people.
But economic wealth is just one of the key factors in lifting our people from social welfare dependency, poor health, low educational achievement, domestic violence and inadequate housing.
Tainui’s strong leadership and its 50-year plan of creating a tribe committed to Kingitanga, fluent in our language, strong in our values, healthy, educated and financially secure, are necessary elements as the tribe grows.
The Tainui economic summit is a time for all iwi to learn from those who have achieved in the cauldron of socio-economic development.
Guests of the Tainui Economic Summit were to be welcomed at a powhiri today at the tribe’s Hopuhopu headquarters. The event ends Friday.