More private sector support needed for Māori businesses

By Tumamao Harawira

Hurimoana Dennis of Te Taumata Kōrero says small Māori businesses are struggling during the lockdown in Auckland but they are yet to hear from private sector leaders, he says. 

Covid restrictions in Auckland have caused financial distress for Māori businesses and tough times for Māori families. It's prompted an urgent appeal from the Auckland iwi collective Taumata Kōrero for compassion from banks and telecommunication companies. The collective wants to meet company heads to ask them to look at practical ways they can help. 

Dennis says, "at the moment they are invisible, we can't see them, we can't hear them. The government, Māori, and the community groups can't be the only ones doing the heavy lifting."

About two thousand odd small Māori businesses across Tāmaki, retail, construction, and entertainment are dealing with lockdown, Taumata Kōrero, who serves a collective of 200,000 across Tāmaki Makaurau is inviting CEs and kaimahi Māori within their organisations to collaborate with the group on identifying practical solutions of support.

'You're talking sole traders, the carpenters, and sitting behind them bro you've got another five kaimahi. and sitting behind them are some tamariki mokopuna and they're all worried about how they are gonna pay their bills' says Dennis.

Te Ao Māori News asked the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum for comment. Chief executive Paul Brislen said, "the industry has been working hard behind the scenes to ensure nobody is disadvantaged by being cut off during the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns"

"Telcos moved early when we were placed into level 4 lockdown to ensure people were able to work and study at home, by lifting data caps to support internet connectivity."

Graham Pryor, another spokesman for Taumata Kōrero, says there seems to be a cultural divide that large corporations don't understand, in terms of how Māori operate.

"You know Māori are a close community, whānau-based, and the reliance on the cash flow from their businesses is complete, and when that's challenged the whole whānau is challenged."

"Some sort of holidays around payments. It's up really to the banks to come forward but their assistance would be welcomed"