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Maori values make the difference for business futures

Media Release, 29 September 2014

Maori values make the difference for business futures

The Federation of Maori Authorities Annual National Conference has highlighted connection and collaboration as critical factors for Maori business success moving forward. The three day conference, held in Whanganui, included a number of presentations which spoke to how this might be achieved given the challenges of collective participation, international market development and resource and environmental sustainability.

While BERL currently estimates the Maori economy as being worth around $36 billion dollars, Senior Economist Dr Ganesh Nana told conference attendees to “forget the numbers and back yourselves”. He reinforced that the things that have always been important to Maori such as moving the collective forward and environmental respect and sustainability are what will really count in the businesses of the future.

Collaboration for mutual benefit is not new to Maori business. Less than 5 years old, Miraka Ltd, a successful milk manufacturing and dairy products business, is an example of multiple trusts brought together under a new brand. The fledgling enterprise recently won the United Travel Business Emerging Exporter of the Year award and was acknowledged as a business that was focused on nurturing the land and the people.

Miraka Ltd Chairman, Kingi Smiler says Miraka takes its responsibility to the environment and its people seriously, “It’s critical for us that what we do today does not have a negative impact on our children and grandchildren tomorrow. That’s what it means for us to be kaitiaki for whenua and whanau.”

Fourth-generation bush-man Wiremu Edmonds gave a particularly moving and inspiring presentation reinforcing the message that the actions of one can have a profound effect on many. Mr Edmonds lost his son in a forestry accident just 18 months ago. Since then, he and his wife have shared their story more than 60 times in an attempt to encourage industry safety and responsible leadership across the board. Mr Edmonds called the 300 plus crowd at the conference “game changers” and encouraged each person to “stand in the gap,” and take up the leadership challenges necessary to ensure lasting benefit for the groups they represent.

The conference also recognised the need for intergenerational collaboration by engaging young people in primary industry. 2014 Huihuinga Wāhine Emerging Leaders Scholar and Wanganui High School Deputy Head Girl, Te Wainui-a-Rua Poa said she had gathered a thick collection of business cards over the duration of the conference that she intended following up. Te Wainui-a-Rua and her cousin Mauriora Takiari were supported by FOMA to attend this years annual conference and spoke to participants on the final day of the conference. Both girls intend to study commerce and environmental law next year. Mauriora currently attends St Joseph’s Maori Girls’ College.

The prestigious BNZ Maori Excellence in Farming Awards was launched on the Saturday evening by Te Puni Kōkiri Chief Executive Michelle Hippolite, who described the Awards as the flagship for Maori success. Applications for entries close on 30 January 2015 and the awards ceremony will also be held in Whanganui in May next year.

FOMA was proud to be joined by Gold sponsors Silver Fern Farms, Beef + Lamb NZ, Dairy NZ, and Primary ITO in bringing this conference to its members and associates. FOMA was also supported by Ballance Agri Nutrients, Price Waterhouse Coopers, PGG Wrightson’s and Te Puni Kōkiri as Silver sponsors. The Bronze sponsors for this year were Fonterra, Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, LIC, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Land Information New Zealand. FOMA appreciates the support from partners Chorus, Zespri, Tohu Wines, Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd and Farmlands.

ENDS

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