Wellington Chamber of Commerce takes Māori and Pasifika businesses under its wing

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Covid 19 saw businesses across the broad struggle, with some unable to continue.

Now, in an attempt to strengthen and reinvigorate Māori and Pasifika businesses, a joint agreement between the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Te Awe Māori Business Network and Pasifika Business network has been signed.

The road to get to this point has been difficult. Te Awe chairman Wayne Johnston says the struggle has been real.

“Some have failed, some have struggled. A lot of them are in the hospitality sector but even in the building sector, tilers and audio visual sector - we've all struggled,” he said.

Māori business guru Richard Jefferies is excited to see what comes out of the new collaboration.

“Kei te kimi ngā rōpū pēnei i te huarahi hou mā te mahi tahi ki te whakapakari i ngā kamupene katoa, koinā te tumanako.”

Future-proofing

“These groups are looking for a better pathway, to work together, to strengthen all businesses -that’s the hope,” he said.

Te Wharewaka o Pōneke is a popular events, hospitality and cultural hub on Wellington’s waterfront. Owner-operator Paul Retimanu says with the struggles that Wharewaka, like many others, has endured during Covid, he now sees light at the end of the tunnel.

“With the three different lenses that are going to be coming together it will help us with capability and capacity with all our businesses to super charge into the future.”

Te Awe Māori Business network has been supporting businesses in the region for over 25 years. Chairman Wayne Johnston also sees the collaboration as a way to future-proof the industry and reinvest back in to rangatahi.

“I'm mentoring young businesses today and they're not even aware of what working capital is, what a limited liability company and the chamber has the resources to help with those questions,” he said.

Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Arcus committed to building a business community to help and support each other “but also things like employment consultancy, help with HR and ER matters, advocacy on behalf of businesses, all kinds of work and special interest work on behalf of business throughout the region”.