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Supporting Māori economic development

Māori economic development offers new opportunities for the New Zealand economy to reach its full potential and to lift the living standards of New Zealanders. Māori economic development matters in terms of, for example, social cohesion (e.g. our identity as a nation and our institutional arrangements as underpinned by Te Tiriti o Waitangi) and equity (e.g. promoting opportunities for Māori to fully participate in the economy). It also offers potential to improve economic growth through more effective utilisation of existing capital stocks, improving sustainability, and better managing risks by broadening the base of the New Zealand economy.

Māori economic development can be broadly characterised as consisting of two components: "the Māori economy" and "Māori in the economy" (Māori in the economy is discussed more extensively in Section Three). The Māori economy includes the capital stock that is specifically identified as Māori (e.g. Māori freehold land[38], Iwi assets and Māori businesses[39]), while Māori in the economy refers to people identifying as Māori participating in the economy. While there is overlap between the two, many Māori do not work in the Māori economy (e.g. Māori students in university study or Māori working in the government sector).

The Māori economy is growing and there is potential for further growth.Between 2010 and 2013 the Māori asset base grew from an estimated $36.9 billion to $42.6 billion in nominal terms, a 7.2 percent real increase.[40] $11.2 billion of this asset base was in agriculture, forestry and fishing and $8.2 billion in property.

Just under half the assets of Māori collective enterprises are in the primary sector.[41] It is estimated that improving the productivity of underutilised agricultural Māori freehold land could increase real GDP by up to $2.3 billion between 2013 and 2025.[42]

A survey of Māori Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) found that one in five Māori SMEs are exporters (most of these using Māori branding or intellectual property). A higher proportion of Māori SMEs introduced any kind of innovation to their enterprises compared to New Zealand businesses in general.[43]

Cultural authenticity is key to the Māori economy. Māori economic development in the Māori economy is a multifaceted conceptencompassing economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors.[44] Cultural authenticity and provenance provides a unique value proposition for Māori businesses and New Zealand's reputation overseas. Developing resources in alignment with te ao Māori (Māori worldviews), tikanga Māori (Māori protocol and approach) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship), and telling the stories of these goods' sources are valued by overseas consumers and trading partners.[45] For example, many Chinese and Māori share values around the significance of responsibly using pounamu (yù) and the significance of long-term relationships.[46] Māori-led development has the potential to be enduring across generations, and therefore a significant contributor to long-term economic outcomes for the whole New Zealand economy.[47] This perspective also came out of the Treasury's regional engagement with stakeholders (see Annex One).

Leveraging off the Crown-Māori relationship remains important. Treaty settlements are progressing to the point where the resolution of historical settlements is within reach. The Crown – Māori relationship is moving beyond the Treaty settlements space driven by a desire from both parties for greater collaboration. Better leveraging of the relationship will be critical to enablingMāori economic and social development.The focus is shifting to how the Crown and Māori can work together to provide new solutions to systemic issues, unlock innovative ways to achieve economic growth, and improve the living standards of Māori and all New Zealanders. As the relationship evolves to include new ways of working and different models of service delivery, both parties will need to be nimble at knowing when to lead and when to follow – and when collaboration might lead to better results (e.g. more effective Māori participation in the management of natural resources or delivery of social outcomes).


  • [38] Māori freehold land is a class of collectively owned land governed by its own legislation, Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. It is typically different to land held by Māori individuals in fee simple title (e.g. the majority of land on which private dwellings are situated) and land held by Iwi as part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement or otherwise.
  • [39] Māori businesses are typically self-identified (i.e. the owners consider themselves to be a Māori business) or are linked to the Māori economy in some way (e.g. Iwi Asset Holding Companies, Māori trusts and incorporations that administer Māori Freehold Land).
  • [40] Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK) (2015) Te Ōhanga Māori 2013: Māori Economy Report 2013. Authors: Ganesh Nana, Masrur Khyan, Hillmaré Schulze, BERL.
  • [41] TPK (2015), above note 40.
  • [42] Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) (2014) Growing the Productive Base of Māori Freehold Land – further evidence and analysis.
  • [43] Statistics New Zealand (2016) Tatauranga Umanga Māori 2016: Statistics on Māori businesses.
  • [44] Māori Economic Development Panel(2013) He kai kei aku ringa: The Crown-Māori economic growth partnership.
  • [45] Māori Economic Taskforce Summit (2011) Discussion Paper: Increasing Exports.
  • [46] Andrea Stevens (2014) Discovering cultural links through pounamu and jade (軟玉) Auckland Museum.
  • [47] Māori Economic Development Panel (2013) He kai kei aku ringa.
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