Māori enterprise - awakening the taniwha

Bringing Māori values into the business world seems to be a winning formula.

The Māori economy is believed to be worth up to fifty billion dollars.  Six billion of that is iwi-owned post treaty settlement assets.  The rest is from small to medium sized Maori businesses and a flair for entrepreneurship.

Businesses range from traditional activities such as farming, foresty and fishing to health care and new high tech initiatives.

However, the businesses often have one thing in common, Māori values at the core of their business practice.

Senior business lecturer Dr Jason Mika of Massey University did his thesis on what makes Māori businesses stand out.

He says the companies he studied were proudly Māori and it was important to them to do business in a way that does no harm to people or the environment.

Two very different business people agree.  

Agri-business pioneer Mavis Mullins says, “Āe, I do like to be comfortable.  Do I like to have credit card?  Āe, but at the end of the day if I don’t have my children and my mokopuna then fat lot of good that is for me.”

Technology entrepreneur Robett Hollis is ranked by Linkedin In as one of New Zealand’s most influential people.

He overcame failure at school and the death of his father as a teenager to build video and content company Frontside, which has now joined forces with advertising giant Saatchi and Saatchi.

Hollis believes Māori culture is a selling point for business.

“Māori culture for a long time has been seen as a liability for many.  I feel that point of difference is one of our most untapped resources and assets ever.”

Thirty years ago the Māori economy was described as a sleeping giant.  That taniwha is now wide awake.

For more info on Mika’s research, click here.