Estimated to have a shared wealth of some $40 billion and set to grow exponentially, the Maori or Iwi economy is booming. With investments in the fisheries, forestry and farming industries, Trevor Moeke says Maori are searching for more onshore partners and offshore customers as their businesses grow and expand.
Moeke is a senior advisor to the NZ Treasury and Deputy Chair and Director for Kahungunu Asset Holding Company (KAHC), which is owned by Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated (NKII). He participated at the Pacific-New Zealand Fisheries Forum in Auckland on May 15, part of a panel that discussed the Maori-iwi experience. Maori have been involved in fisheries in New Zealand and trading throughout the Pacific trading for thousands of years.
Since the Maori Fisheries Settlement 1992, and the subsequent allocation of assets to the 57 iwi in NZ, Maori are in the best position they have been in for nearly 250 years, Trevor says. “Now we are finding out what the next 250 years will look like,” he adds.
Collaboration with offshore partners will feature strongly, with iwi such as Ngati Kahungunu hosting events such as February’s Taniwha Dragon Economic Summit, and investigating potential partnerships.
Fellow forum panelist Manuka Henare, an Associate Professor in Maori Business Development in the Department of Management and International Business and former Associate Dean (Maori and Pacific Development), says the colonials killed business for Maori, and removed them from the fishing sector.
“We are now re-learning the business of fishing,” he says.
There are many improvements to be made, such as reducing the wastage of fish and introducing best practices that will not only increase yield, but also align with Maori and Pacific cultural values about caring for the ocean.
Panel facilitator Dion Tuuta, the CEO of Te Ohu Kaimoana – established to manage the fishery quota allocation to iwi after the fisheries settlement in 1992 – spoke about issues affecting Maori fisheries during the panel. Those issues include a lack of recognition of Maori commercial fishing rights by the government; the need for Maori to exert control over what is rightfully theirs; the lack of understanding around the quota management system; and the politicization of fisheries.
The forum featured several keynote speakers, including Rangimarie Hunia – Ngate Whatua CEO and Director, Te Ohu Kaimoana (Maori Fisheries Trust – pictured above) who who also shared information on the emerging Maori economy and the need for Maori to look after the fisheries resource.
She says there is potential for Pacific and Maori people to create partnerships within the fisheries sector.
Those partnerships could be based on an ethos of sustainability and the shared understanding among Pacific and Maori people that they are guardians and caretakers of the ocean. They may also include the establishment of cooperatives, which increase quotas and where participants all have a voice and equal rights.
Port Nicholson Fisheries is a great example of a cooperative whose members help maximize returns on crayfish quota while allowing participants better access to more markets, Rangimarie says.
The Maori-iwi experience was just one aspect of the Pacific-NZ Fisheries Forum, which saw approximately 100 delegates from around the region and NZ discussing issues relating to sustainability, labor and skills training.