Impact on Māori businesses following UK Election results today

By Jessica Tyson
Traci Haupapa Chair of the Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA) 

The voting polls have closed for the United Kingdom (UK) election following more than three years of wrangling over their country's messy separation from the European Union (EU).

If Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the Conservative Party (Tories) win, the Tories promise to take Britain out of the European Union by January 31. This could affect Māori businesses in Aotearoa.

So far the Conservative Party is currently leading in votes. Chair of the Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA) Traci Haupapa says based on the results, Johnson is likely to win.

“What this means for Māori is that where we have existing arrangements for meat, horticulture, dairy, largely some tech as well and wine going into the EU and into the UK, that our current arrangements will stay in place, she says.

“However we will need to renegotiate those once Brexit has properly occurred post-January 31.”

Māori businesses

The UK is New Zealand's sixth-largest export market, primarily exporting agricultural goods such as lamb and honey, and wine from Māori companies like te Pā Wines.

Haupapa says she is unsure about whether or not Māori businesses will benefit from Brexit.

“It really depends on what existing arrangements are in place and also what arrangements might be renegotiated as part of the new director country to country relationships between New Zealand and UK, and also the arrangements with the EU.

“That really depends on who is negotiating and how we secure the best new arrangements based on what we have agreed as a country for the transition approach.”

One concern is a possible increase in restrictions of exporting goods but Haupapa says government leaders are working on a solution.

“We've been working closely with Minister David Parker, Minister Mahuta, Minister Damien O'Connor and MFAT and also industry group to ensure that we get the best possible results for Māori, and so we'll proceed in earnest now we know the results of this election.”

Johnson's Conservatives need to win about 320 seats to be free to govern and votes should be fully counted by this evening NZ time.

New Zealanders seeking employment

Former NZ Labour Party General Secretary Tim Barnett recently told Te Ao that it could be much harder for New Zealanders seeking employment in Europe if Britain leaves the European Union.

"If Britain leaves it means that New Zealanders lack the opportunity to work so easily in Europe and we're still yet to see what a final deal will look like in that respect.  Long-term they say it's going to be easier for New Zealanders to get [work] and I doubt that."

A study by the Centre for Social Investigation at Nuffield College found immigration and sovereignty were the two main reasons 51% of British citizens voted to leave the EU.

Barnett says, "At the end of the day it's about Britain being for the British people and that I think for Māori makes it a fascinating debate, what does nationhood mean?  Is it about England?  Is it about Britain?  Is it about Europe?  Is it about the Commonwealth? There's all these different identities flying around in this debate."

According to the UK's 2011 census, just under 60,000 New Zealanders reside in the UK.  Barnett says Kiwis are already feeling the pressures from the Brexit vote.

“It depends on their immigration status because ironically in the last few years it’s become tougher for particularly young New Zealanders to go and work in Britain for a period. 

“It used to be quite easy to do that and carry on and make a career there and now a lot of young people are doing a couple years OE and are having to come back because of the visa rules.”