May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Maori Economy Must be a Key Focus – Federation of Maori Authorities Chair, Traci Houpapa

5 min read

A report from Berl estimates the value of the Maori economy at $36 billion but, while this figure is impressive, the economic researcher highlights issues that are of much greater significance..

The value Berl puts on the Maori economy is evidence of the good work done by Maori organisations across the entire spectrum to grow their businesses. It also for the first time provides the value Maori workers add to the New Zealand economy.

But the Berl report identifies the vital role that science and innovation must play if the Maori economy is to capitalise on the gigantic strides it is making.

The Maori Economy, Science and Innovation Scenarios of potential, opportunity and value is a compelling report.

Please click here for the online Summary:

The 48-page reportsignalsa warning to all New Zealanders who wish to see their country achieve its economic potential. It predicts the country will suffer the consequences if science and innovation investment in Maori businesses is not raised to the same level as the rest of New Zealand.

The warning is timely. We appear to be returning to a political environment where some critics seek to demonise any process that aims to empower Maori to achieve our collective economic potential and to remove barriers that have hindered this. The claims of “favouritism” and “privilege” look set to return to the political lexicon.

While the current political environment may not be ideal for the release of this report,Maori and those who have had the vision to support Maori economic development, should hold their heads high and feel pride in the immense progress that has been made.

The net figure of the value of the Maori economy is more impressive when it is considered against the reality that the Government is yet to breach its $1 billion cap on Treaty of Waitangi settlements. And, while the value also includes the $20billion Maori workers inject into the economy, growth of Maori assets and businesses has been significant. The growth has come from Maori and our commercial partners. Our pursuit of changes to unfair legislation have evened the playing field, as has greater focus on policy to unlock the potential of Maori asset holdings. Maori have grasped the opportunity to grow their businesses and entities.

Maori businesses, organisations and individuals have upskilled, thrived and boosted their buying power. Their success has reached the point where banks and car companies are now using Maori in advertising, perhaps to pitch for the Maori dollar. A stark change from the selective and social service driven focus of not too many years ago.

The report clearly captures the cost to the NEW ZEALAND economy if science and innovation are not utilised to maximise the value of Maori businesses. The perception of privilege and favouritism mentioned earlier is unfounded at best, and rubbish at worst, and those generally well-educated critics who make these statements know it.

Maori grapple with many unique challenges, as identified in the report. These include the limitations of collective ownership, unfair legislation, a collective and entrenched aversion to selling land, and disparate landholdings. And yet the Berl report shows that Maori are succeeding against these odds.

There are the challenges of managing a shareholder base that is dispersed and disenfranchised as a result of massive historic injustices.

There are capability deficiencies, as Maori in the recent past had little opportunity in the countrys boardrooms. Maori have had to adapt quickly to try to ensure that there is proper governance and strategies to manage what are increasingly large, complex and wide-ranging businesses.

There are challenges in raising capital to grow businesses, based on the collective ownership of Maori land and assets,

The Berl report provides a compelling reason why support must be provided to Maori business to ensure investment in science and innovation is lifted to be the SAME as the national average across all industries by 2061.The reason is simple: if Maori succeed the country succeeds.

The result would see GDP from the Maori economy grow by $12.1 billion annually in 50 years, resulting in an additional 148,000 jobs by 2061.

This is a benefit for all in this country, and especially for the communities and regions in which Maori businesses operate.

The report provides a range of scenarios, including the consequences if nothing is done and no further focus occurs on Maori science and innovation investment. This would result in GDP from the Maori economy declining by $2.7 billion less than it is today and the loss of 35,000 jobs by 2061.

The Berl research identifies barriers for, and key reasons why science and innovation must remain a key focus of Maori commercial entities and policy-makers, some of which I have touched on already.

These are:

  • The scope of science and innovation being unclear to Maori entities. Therefore many Maori entities lack an understanding of the science sector and the value it can add.
  • The science sector lacking an appreciation of the initiatives currently being undertaken by Maori entities and the consequent potential the science sector could add to advance these.
  • Key networks and/or contacts not being known by both parties.
  • Communication and engagement methods often being unsuitable and/or ineffective.

The Federation of Maori Authorities is a national collective which represents a range of Maori business and entities across the spectrum. We have played a part in assisting the significant growth the report has identified, and we remain excited by the opportunity and potential to assist our members and Maori to achieve our potential.

The Berl report provides an insight into the opportunities to further grow our country’s collective wealth. We challenge our national, political, and local leaders to do all they can to ensure our potential. FoMA remains focused on working hard to ensure we achieve this worthy goal.

Traci Houpapa, Chairman of the Federation of Maori Authorities.

About FoMA

FoMA is a national collective of Maori authorities, businesses and entities focused on promoting and supporting the interests and opportunities of its more than 150 members. Our members operate across a range of sectors including forestry, agribusiness, horticulture, energy, tourism, property and viticulture, and have a collective net worth estimated in 2006 at between $8 and $10 billion.

Established 25years ago FoMA has worked along side our members to lift the value to our member shareholders and to remove barriers that have prevented Maori from achieving our economic potential.

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