Treasury staff insight

Conversations about the future

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Staff and teams are writing in their individual capacity and the views are not necessarily a "Treasury" view. Please read our disclaimer.

Two women and two men chatting in a cafe with the Auckland Sky Tower in the background.

Credit: NZ Story (ID 223236).

An introduction to a set of interviews about demographics, climate change and their implications with selected Māori and Pacific leaders and experts.

As part of the work for the Treasury's 2020 Long Term Fiscal Statement*, Chief Economic Adviser Tim Ng interviewed five Māori and Pacific New Zealand leaders, researchers and experts on a range of topics covered in the Statement. We sought their views as part of the Treasury’s ongoing process of trying to better understand and incorporate te ao Māori and Pacific worldviews, including mātauranga Māori, into our work.

Each of the five interview subjects provided fascinating insights on the issues, drawn from their expert knowledge of Māori and Pacific worldviews and values and their on-the-ground experience. These insights have enriched our work and thinking considerably, and we will be drawing on them where we can in our analysis.

We feature interviews with Dr Shaun Awatere, Senior Kairangahau Māori / Capability Leader, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research; Rangimarie Hunia, CEO of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Maia; Professor Tahu Kukutai, National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, The University of Waikato; Penehuro Lefale, International Climate Analyst/co-Director, LeA International Consultants; and Associate Professor Damon Salesa, Associate Professor of Pacific Studies and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Pacific), University of Auckland.

Reflecting the Treasury’s core role, our long term fiscal work focuses on the aspects of New Zealand’s “big issues”, such as demography and climate change, that will most substantially affect the economy and public finances. But clearly, topics such as these are vast and complex, with many interconnected issues that are highly salient to governments and to New Zealanders more broadly. These interviews and the Treasury’s other engagement on such issues are intended to inform a holistic approach that recognises this broader context where we can.

In our discussions on demography, we wanted particularly to understand better the implications of the relative youthfulness of Māori and Pacific New Zealanders compared to other New Zealanders, and how issues of ageing and economic participation, for example, may be perceived differently in Māori and Pacific New Zealand communities. In discussing climate change, we wanted to hear from experts in te ao Māori, mātauranga Māori and Pacific perspectives how Māori and Pacific communities are seeing and responding to the challenges.

Some themes coming out of these interviews are that age and ageing mean different things to different people. The youthfulness of Māori and Pacific New Zealanders, on average, presents economic and social opportunities (an internal “demographic dividend”) that are underappreciated. As well, the challenge of meeting education and skill requirements over the life course to prepare people for a changing labour market and society needs to better incorporate te ao Māori and Pacific perspectives. These perspectives include a more collective and whānau-based approach to caring for elderly, contrasting with more individualistic and market-based approaches seen elsewhere.

These issues are especially pertinent in the context of the climate-related social and economic transitions required in New Zealand. The necessary large shifts in activity will impact relatively heavily on lower-income communities, where adaptive capacity is lower and where Māori and Pacific New Zealanders are over-represented. The history of how Māori and Pacific New Zealanders have come to be where they are today, and the knowledge that Māori and Pacific people themselves hold, is important context for the collaboration and governance approaches that will be needed to address these complex issues over coming years.

We hope you enjoy reading these interviews as much as we enjoyed doing them. We thank our interview subjects very much for their time and willingness to share their insights and knowledge.

The interviews will be made available progressively here on the Treasury website. You can view links to each interview as they are published (a) below and (b) on the Long-term fiscal position landing page.   


* The 2020 Statement on the Long-term Fiscal Position (the 2020 Statement) was originally planned for publication in March 2020. However, the rapid emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic - and the high likelihood that it would have a very large economic and fiscal impact - meant that the timeframe for this work has been extended to allow for a better understanding of the likely impacts of COVID-19 and subsequent response and recovery measures on the New Zealand economy and fiscal position. The Treasury now intends to publish the Statement before the end of September 2021.

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