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Insights from Te Ōhanga report
First and foremost – thank you for the mahi of everyone who has been involved in producing this report.
The Government needs up-to-date and accurate data on the size and scope of the Māori economy for us to understand how best to focus effort and resources.
It is very important in contributing to government efforts to boost Māori resilience and wellbeing through the post-COVID rebuild and recovery phase.
The publication of Te Ōhanga follows the release of Te Matapaeroa in November, a report on the number and breadth of Māori-owned businesses.
This identified more than 10,000 Māori businesses – eight times more than previously reported.
Te Puni Kōkiri commissioned this research to get a better picture of the contribution of Māori to the wider economy and improve Māori wellbeing data, insights, and information.
Te Puni Kōkiri will be refreshing this data later this year with post-COVID numbers.
Both reports tell us some really encouraging things.
The headline finding in Te Ōhanga is Māori are making up a much bigger part of our economy and given the young Māori population we know the future of the New Zealand economy is Māori.
Māori employ more Māori
The younger age of the Māori population means in the five years since the previous report the Māori labour force has grown 40 per cent, compared with less than 10 per cent growth for the non-Māori sector.
The Māori labour force is growing five times faster than the non-Māori labour force and will continue to grow faster.
These numbers are still small, but the report also showed that Māori self-employed is also growing five times faster than non-Māori self-employed and Māori employers are growing 10 times as fast as non-Māori employers.
If these growth rates continue there will be 4,500 new Māori employers and 4,600 new Māori self-employed in the next two years.
These new employers and entrepreneurs will need support to help them grow their businesses and employ Māori.
The report tells us Māori employers and self-employed have a much higher skill level than employees.
If we want more Māori employers, we need to continue to focus on higher education outcomes for Māori, from early education through to tertiary qualifications.
The Māori asset base is approaching $70 billion and has grown about 10 per cent a year for the past decade – again much faster than the overall economy.
This is excellent, the need to continue to stimulate the Māori economy is critical as we strive for equitable participation, higher incomes, and prosperity for whānau.
We need to remember overall Māori households receive 35 per cent of their income from social security and assistance, compared with 9 per cent for non-Māori households.
That’s one number I wish was much smaller.
At the same time, while this focus is on the contribution to the economy, we should not forget the huge contribution Māori make in the important unpaid caring and voluntary work in whānau and the community.
That mahi helps whānau function more effectively and enriches communities.
Entrepreneurism – increasing numbers are self-employed and employing other Māori
Te Ōhanga shows the entrepreneurial spirit within the growing Māori workforce. And it remains strongly anchored in fishing, farming, and forestry.
It is now more than a third of the asset base and given the relationship of Māori to whenua and food production, this is likely to continue.
Property and the business services, manufacturing, construction, and transport sectors are all growing too, and this diversification of the Māori economy is promising.
But Māori also need to continue to increase their participation in the knowledge economy, particularly the ICT sector.
While Māori are increasingly entrepreneurial, factors such as a low homeownership rate mean they struggle to get the capital needed to grow their businesses.
And while the Māori workforce is growing very quickly, especially those who are self-employed, the rate of entrepreneurship among Māori (8.6 per cent of the workforce) is half that of non-Māori (17 per cent of the workforce).
So, we need to put more focus on ensuring people in the Māori workforce move into owning and operating their own businesses.
Social procurement to help COVID-19 recovery
The Government is addressing Māori Business growth needs in a variety of ways.
One is to make it easier for Māori enterprises to do business with government agencies with a new target to encourage public service agencies to cast the net wider when awarding contracts.
Māori businesses and jobs are a priority for the new Government.
The Government spends $42 billion a year procuring goods and services. We are looking for more ways to use this buying power to help Māori businesses.
The new five per cent target for public service contracts for Māori businesses is an important step towards a more inclusive and prosperous society.
Small and medium businesses face big challenges as a result of COVID-19.
Māori businesses have a strong presence in the primary sector and tourism, in accommodation and the food industry, the retail sector, and in the trades – all of which have been particularly affected by COVID.
The construction sector offers the potential to contribute to the COVID-19 recovery and to build more economic resilience through investment in infrastructure.
Our government’s social procurement policy initiatives will improve access to government contracts for Māori enterprises.
This investment in the recovery will stimulate growth and capability development in the Māori SME sector.
Māori SME employs Māori at three times the rate of non-Māori SME, so this can create a platform for future growth and employment to offset the significant COVID-19 impacts felt by Māori enterprise and employment.
Social procurement encourages agencies to use their buying power to create social and economic value.
This approach has worked well overseas. For example, in Australia, the targets resulted in contracts with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses increasing from $6 million to almost $2 billion in just four years.
This target for government procurement will further improve cash flow to Māori businesses and help diversify their customer bases and build more resilience.
We’ve also appointed Amotai help agencies to connect with Māori businesses.
Amotai provides Māori and Pasifika businesses with connections to buyers who recognise the added social value buying from Māori and Pasifika businesses can create in our communities.
These efforts will all help create an enabling policy environment for a more inclusive economy in Aotearoa.
Whenua law changes
There are other government initiatives that will help build the Māori economy.
Amendments to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, which took effect on Waitangi Day, will address issues relating to succession, dispute resolution, and related matters so the legislation works better.
These amendments will also support the Māori Land Court to operate effectively.
We have just made changes to the Local Government (Rating) Act that remove barriers to using and developing Māori land.
There are other challenges to overcome and mazes to navigate to unlock the full and rich social, cultural, and economic potential of our whenua.
But I believe these changes will remove some of the long-standing barriers.
Last year, Te Puni Kōkiri launched tupu.nz, the whenua knowledge website.
It is a fantastic resource to help landowners of whenua Māori navigate their way through what can be a complicated journey to use their whenua.
All these efforts will enable whānau, hapū, and Iwi development through their whenua.
No discussion about improving Māori outcomes can finish without acknowledging one of the key pillars we are building to achieve wellbeing.
Whānau Ora delivers this by using a te ao Māori approach and looking at the whole whānau – their physical, financial, emotional, social, and spiritual wellbeing.
Thriving whānau will help build a strong Māori economy.
Our Government remains committed to Whānau Ora by making it inherent in all that government agencies do and by continuing to empower local solutions and local approaches to deepen and broaden delivery.
Thriving, not just surviving
Lastly, I was delighted to see some of our Māori business success stories featured in the media in the wake of Te Ōhanga’s release.
Such as Wakatū’s Tohu Wines, the world’s first Māori wine company, which has grown into a multi-million dollar international success over the past 20 years.
There is also good growth in the wider horticultural sector, which will be assisted by the changes I mentioned earlier to make it easier for whānau to develop their land.
There are many examples of a resilient Māori economy – not just surviving but thriving.
We need the Māori economy to be diverse, strong and of a size able to cope with economic ebbs and flows.
For example, while Ngāi Tahu’s big tourism businesses have been severely affected by COVID-19, its diverse investments in primary industries and property have kept Ngāi Tahu Holdings afloat this year.
There is much to do to continue to build the Māori economy and Māori participation in the New Zealand economy.
Having good information, such as that provided by Te Ōhanga and Te Matapaeroa will help the government develop a strong policy that focuses on enabling whānau to thrive.
It will help inform the ways for Māori to build resilience, strength, prosperity, and wellbeing.
Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi (With your basket and my basket the people will live)
I orea te tuatara ka patu ki waho (A problem is solved by continuing to find solutions)
Whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou (Seek after learning for the sake of your well-being)
Kia kaha to you all in progressing the wonderful mahi you do.
Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.