May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Maori set to contribute up to 25% of NZ’s GDP in the next 20 years

3 min read

Aroha mai whanau, we were a little late to pass this one but the analysis is encouraging!

(Source | NZ Herald) The Herald reported at the beginning of October that accountancy firms are appointing Maori to business development roles as the size and potential of the Maori economy begins to dawn.

Last month Leon Wijohn joined Deloitte in Auckland as partner with responsibility for leading the firm’s Maori business team.

Three years ago Maori business accounted for 2.2 per cent of GDP. By last year that figure had risen to 5 per cent.

The writing’s on the wall that it’s going to be heading to 25 per cent in the next 10-20 years,” Wijohn said. Those Maori organisations needed support and Wijohn described the advice gap as “huge”.

Of 32,000 accountants in New Zealand just 800 were Maori and not all were connected to their heritage.

There needed to be a big drive to recruit more Maori into the profession. Wijohn is involved with the National Maori Accountants Network which speaks to school and student groups.

“In the meantime we’re still going to need non-Maori to learn more about Maori culture and how they can work better with their Maori clients.”

He believed there were differences between Maori and non-Maori organisations.

Working for some Maori organisations could require heavy resourcing upfront, as necessary information and systems often weren’t there.

Maori organisations also typically took a much longer-term view, Wijohn said. They had a caretaker role and thought of future generations.

“I think it’s a great thing that Tainui got the Waikato River back because one of their main aims is stopping pollution.”

With strong ties to his Te Rarawa and Tuhoe whanau, Wijohn had his own chartered accountancy business when Deloitte came knocking. But he also had a vision. Deloitte was prepared to resource a long-term plan for helping Maori, he said.

“If we’re working for a non-Maori organisation that wants to work with a Maori organisation I’ve said, ‘if it’s not a win-win for Maori then we’re not helping you’.”

Wijohn also wants to chip away at the glass ceiling. “I would like to think when I retire from Deloitte that there’s a great team built up that includes a number of Maori partners.”

Wiwini Hakaraia took up a new role in accountancy company BDO Auckland’s Maori business services team three months ago.

He believed the last time anyone talked about a Maori economy was in the 1820s.

Coming from a Croatian-Maori West Auckland family, Hakaraia’s understanding of Maori tikangawas useful.

He said there were many unspoken protocols, such as giving a rundown of your whakapapa when you first meet. “You say who you are and where you come from because you don’t just represent yourself.”

Maori also wanted to create relationships before they did business. That may mean having a cup of tea with them four or five times which might not fit well with the Pakeha way, he said.

One current issue was that most Maori organisations were asset rich but cash poor. “How can those assets create value not only today but in 10-20 years,” Hakaraia asked.

Another issue was how Maori could borrow as banks struggle to structure loan packages because of their ownership.

For example one whanau-based East Coast farming client had 2000 shareholders, he said. “If they want to grow how are they going to be able to borrow against their land?”

By Maria Slade | Email Maria

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