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Maori urged to harness global networks

Maori urged to harness global networks

1 July 2014

Leading technology will be a critical enabler for Maori development and marae should be looking to take the lead, delegates at a conference in Rotorua have been told.

Maori should not wait for government decisions and policies, Chris Insley, who helps Maori develop sustainable economic development strategies, told delegates at yesterday’s (Monday 30 June) Te Ahurangi hui, a biennial conference for Maori organised by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Mr Insley urged delegates to take action “at home”, to engage with their marae communities and rangatahi and look to link with global experts to help them achieve their goals and progress initiatives.

Maori should adopt the notion of kaitiakitanga, increasing capacity at home in order to realise the potential that existed, Mr Insley said.

In a changing world Maori needed to think differently about how they did that while responding to global influences but never forgetting their culture, he said.

Economists estimated the Maori economy was worth about $37 billion with most interests in primary sectors like farming, forestry and fishing. The Maori economy was growing by an estimated 15% every year, compared to 3 to 4% annual growth in the non-Maori economy and at that rate, the two would be the same size in 15 to 20 years.

The estimates were not as big as they should be, Mr Insley told delegates.

Maori farms, for example, were not as productive as non-Maori and there was a relationship between getting the best technology available and using it to lift productivity. There were problems getting equitable access to science and innovation funding but there were ways to make progress, through global networking, he said.

He gave examples of a marae-based renewable energy project in the Eastern Bay of Plenty which was, despite a lack of funding, progressing by linking with interested universities and national and overseas experts who were inspired by the kaupapa. Also in the Eastern Bay, Maori were partnering with experts to increase capacity using geothermal energy and the best greenhouse technology in the world, Mr Insley said. In both cases, local Maori were retaining the decision-making.

Rather than waiting for the government or its agencies to make decisions, Maori should take the lead at local level, he said. “Leadership needs to start at home.”

In the keynote opening address, Patrick McGarvey, a board member of Tuhoe’s post-settlement governance entity Te Uru Taumata, spoke about “rangatiratanga from a Tuhoe lens”.

For Tuhoe, he said, rangatiratanga was about the tribe’s way of life, the language, customs, culture and history. It was “not about having a bigger bank balance” but about having the capability and capacity to solve their own problems in their own way and having the means to do that.

Strong rangatiratanga required strong structures, both within whanau, iwi and hapu and within governance, he said.

Other keynote speakers were Tauranga’s Jack Thatcher, who spoke about Maori ocean voyaging, and Moana Maniapoto, who shared her business experiences.

The more than 100 delegates who attended the one-day conference, held at Tangatarua Marae at Waiariki Institute of Technology, also attended workshop sessions.

Rotorua District Councillor Tania Tapsell led a workshop about rangatahi leadership; Te Arawa Lakes chief executive Roku Mihinui and general manager, strategy and influence for Te Rununga o Ngai Tahu Donna Flavell updated delegates about the work of the national Freshwater Iwi Advisory Group; and general manager Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa Trust, Taria Tahana, spoke about the Bay of Connections’ recently launched Bay of Plenty Maori Economic Development Strategy, aimed at supporting and growing the region’s Maori economy.

The conference, the theme of which was “rangatiratanga in practice”, was initiated by regional councillors. The council’s Maori Policy Committee regularly meets at marae around the region and identified a need for the hui, the first of which was held in 2012.

In opening the conference, Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair Doug Leeder said the hui was a koha back to Maori. The aim was to enable Maori in the region to network and share advice, experiences and information to help build the capacity of Maori to be involved in regional decision-making, Mr Leeder said.

ENDS

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