Consumer NZ tells Countdown to be more ambitious for Māori leadership

By Taroi Black

Countdown has committed to diversifying its company to have 20% of Māori and Pasifika in senior leadership positions but Consumer NZ says that's not good enough and the target should be 50% .

Countdown's sustainability plan Kia pai ake te apōpō - A Better Tomorrow proposal is based on the latest Māori population figure, now at 17* of the general population. The plan also has a focus on stopping food waste from being sent to landfills.

However, Consumer NZ chief executive NZ Jon Duffy says although the cultural shift is a good thing for business and a voice at the decision table, there is still room to increase the company’s target.  

“I don’t know if 20% needs to be a cap - so it could be 50% by 2025.”

Countdown owns one of the two largest national supply chains, with 183 stores and four distribution centres nationwide and employs 21,000 full and part-time staff. The plan to back its community aims to support tikanga and Māori world views.

“It will mean that the business itself is understanding the needs of those communities and those communities have a voice at the decision-making table," Duffy said.

Countdown general manager Kiri Hannifin said while the company hasn't previously collected ethnicity data based on how many Māori and Pasifika are part of their team, they will establish baseline data.

“We really want to make the decision-makers in our business represent our country properly," Hannifin says.

“We need to be the most attractive workplace for Māori and Pasifika talent.”

Inquiry into supermarkets

While many Māori and Pasifika families face food insecurity, lack of affordability of food has taken a huge toll on consumers nationwide and the new government has ordered a Commerce Commission inquiry into supermarkets. 

“We think the grocery market is very competitive here but we're going to work with the commission to give information that they need to make that assessment and we'll welcome it."

Duffy says one of the key factors on driving food prices up is the lack of competition in the supermarket sector.  

“We’ve long held concerns that there is something not quite right in the supermarket sector and we have welcomed the decision by the government to get the Commerce Commission to look into what’s going on in the market."