I recently heard someone say that the best way to get Maori into small business was to give them a big business.
This comment can be taken a few ways. I'm not sure where this saying originated, but imbibed with curiosity, I was determined to find out how Maori are doing in business.
I wasn't surprised in my findings, but it is obvious there is a lack of awareness. The results of the Maori economy don't seem to have a slot on the 6pm news.
The Maori economy is estimated at $37 billion. But if you're tempted to write that off as the proceeds of Treaty settlements, don't. These are only about $2.5 billion. $5.4 billion is attributable to the 12,920 ethnically Maori self-employed. $20 billion is attributable to the enterprises of 5690 Maori employers.
Tainui and Ngai Tahu, the first iwi to conclude Treaty settlements, have grown their asset base from $170 million each since the mid-90s to near $750 million each.
Farming, fishing and forestry are where resources and assets converge and increasing returns from these assets will occur with continued research and development.
The forecast reports that the maximum potential of the Maori economy could add $12 billion a year to GDP and potentially 150,000 jobs with the right strategic partnerships and leadership.
The right legislation is necessary. There are reports that communally owned land is estimated to be 80 per cent underutilised. There is 1.47 million hectares of Maori land - less than 5 per cent of land in New Zealand.
A review of the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 recently sought to improve the effectiveness of Maori land use. Enabling the majority of engaged Maori land owners to administer land and to stop constant dilution of ownership is an outcome of the proposed changes.
Maori do business differently. Long-term conservative investment in resources including land, culture, social and economic conditions pave a way for resources to be banked for future generations. For Maori business it's not about a quick-fix investment return.
So I think "the best way to get Maori into small business is to give them a big business" means that with the current base of assets Maori have, we will see a diversification into other markets, perhaps promoting the growth of other small businesses, and value-added manufacturing or processing to grow these as cards for Maori to play internationally.
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