Māori tourism critical to country's economic rebuild

By Te Rina Triponel

On Monday Stats NZ revealed 234 Māori tourism businesses had employed 11,100 people in 2019 but, as the country suffered a massive financial blow due to Covid-19, this now highlights jobs at risk.

But Māori economist Matt Roskruge says if Covid-19 is taken out of the picture, " we’re seeing amazing growth in Māori tourism and it’s across the board,” “We should be very proud,” Roskruge told Tapatahi.

Twenty-nine per cent of Māori tourism businesses were in the arts and recreational services industry, a crucial part of Māori tourism that primarily takes place in Rotorua and Kaikoura.

He says Māori tourism is critical to the country's economic rebuild.

“Art, carving and story-telling have always been central to Māori culture and, with principles of manaakitanga prevalent in Māori business, it is no surprise that many Māori tourism businesses are in this industry,” Stats NZ business statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said in a statement. 

Administrative and support services make up 10 percent of Māori tourism and cover travel agencies and tour arrangers.

It accounted for 4,250 employees in the last year, almost 40 per cent of all Māori tourism employees.

Māori authorities also exported a record $741 million worth of commodities in 2019, following the profit successes in 2018 for Māori authority farming businesses, which reached $97 million.

“We’ve seen a lot of hard work in our Māori authorities in developing relationships and it’s made a huge impact.” Roskruge said.

“It’s excellent news and really encouraging to see and we want to see the trend continue.”

Roskruge says it’s still too early to tell whether or not New Zealand is seeking new markets in terms of exports.