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Horomia Speech: Regional Development Conference

Hon Parekura Horomia Minister of Mâori Affairs

Speech notes prepared for Regional Development Conference 2005

Municipal Theatre, Napier

Tuesday, 22 March 2005 Mihi

The theme of your conference this week, ‘Our Future, Our Potential, Our Choice’ is very topical at the moment – particularly following close on the heels of the recent Hui Taumata.

At the beginning of this month Mâori leaders from around the country met in Wellington, to review Mâori economic progress in the last 20 years, and to look at the challenges and opportunities facing our people over the next two decades.

The similarity of issues raised here, and at the Hui Taumata are of course not a coincidence, after all our national economy is simply an aggregation of the country’s regional economies which are fed also by a growing Mâori economy.

The Hui Taumata highlighted that on the economic front there has been a growth in the capability of Mäori managers and our asset base; there have also been increases in the number of Mâori who own their own businesses and the rise of Mâori corporate bodies engaging with mainstream and international businesses.

By far the biggest earner and contribution Mäori make to the economy is participation in the labour market. Mäori households earn $4.3 billion in wages and salaries each year. Mäori unemployment is now down to an all time low.

Thousands more Mäori are in work than when we were elected. Over 90% of all Mäori who can work are working. Mäori enterprise is still on the move. Over the last three years Mäori exceeded non- Mäori in the total entrepreneurial activity stakes. Many Mäori entrepreneurs continue to express their confidence and optimism about business opportunities.

Mâori social development has been marked by the growth in the number and range of Mâori provider and social service organisations. Education continues to be a cornerstone of social development. The numbers of Mâori studying at and graduating from tertiary institutions has grown considerably.

It is pleasing to note the emergence of graduates in modern day sciences. And throughout this period, our population has continued to grow in terms of numbers and in terms of diversity.

Our people are developing the skills that support their participation and achievement in Te ao Mäori, and as global citizens. Mäori represent 17% of all industry trainees, with 24,000 Mäori involved in industry training in 2004, up from 22,000 in 2003. More Mäori than ever before are upskilling in the workplace, and we expect this positive trend to continue.

Our numbers in early childhood education have almost trebled since 1983. And although this is still not high enough, it is a strong start. Our tertiary rates are now high with numbers 15 times what they were nearly 20 years ago. But enrolments are clustered in lower level courses. Our challenge is to lift the level of study and qualification being achieved.

Working together Mäori and the Government have achieved a great deal. Our country and our people are very different from what they were twenty, ten and even five years ago.

Our demographics tell us the state of Mâoridom is now one of youthful intelligence, energy and expectancy. Combined with a growing economy this creates a positive context for future prosperity.

We have to keep moving forward. We cannot lose momentum. We must be ready to embrace any new challenges that lie ahead. Like the fact that today there are approximately 600,000 Mâori in New Zealand. That’s one in seven people. By 2021 it’s estimated we will number 800,000. That’s one in every six New Zealanders. Overall the New Zealand population is aging. The baby boom generation is heading for retirement. There will be fewer young people to fill jobs and drive the economy - making Mâori capability a key driver in the future economic well-being of New Zealand.

The number of our people in the main working ages (15-64 years) is projected to increase 34 per cent from 350,000 in 2001 to 468,000 in 2021. Staggering as it sounds, it’s estimated that our untapped employment potential is around $45 billion. That’s about five times the value of our tangible assets. The task is to move to the next level. To unlock, unleash and realise our potential. This is what the next 20 years of Mâori policy is about.

For our own future protection, we need to raise our educational standards, enhance and diversify our skills and ensure that we are more evenly distributed across all areas of the labour market.

The reason that we suffered so greatly from the economic reforms in the 1980s was that our workforce was concentrated in low and semi-skilled jobs in Railways, Ministry of Works and other departments affected by the restructuring and in the processing industries.

We must work with others rather than in isolation. Partnerships, collaboration and networking are going to be critical to our development in the future.

There is considerable room for partnerships and other forms of collaboration with local government and businesses, with private and voluntary sector organisations and with international organizations and businesses.

Effective governance will be vital. We know governance for many Mäori collectives is complex because of the inability of members to trade out of their membership.

We know from international studies that governance structures that are culturally attuned are more likely to achieve success. We want Mäori collectives to have access to governance structures that enable Mäori to succeed as Mäori.

We must build the capability now amongst our young. The growing Mâori economy requires a unique blend of executive and cultural leadership skills.

Many Mâori my age are the products of the last generation of manual labourers. We were neither close to sciences and academia nor upper level management. It is therefore critical that we ensure that we have a succession plan to ensure future success.

It is critical that our young achieve in education at the highest level and are not constrained by our horizons. They must go beyond the limits of our world and be influential participants in the wider community that affects our own.

At the beginning of my address I noted that our national economy is simply an aggregation of the country’s regional economies, these in turn are being fed by a growing Mâori economy.

The key point here is that our economic future as Mâori and non-Mâori in this country is inextricably entwined. In this regard your conference must be a springboard for embracing a collective effort between regional bodies, iwi, hapu and other Mâori organisations.

Tourism, fishing, forestry and aquaculture are just a few of the sectors where this collaboration has started but there is still a lot of room to explore new directions and new sectors in order to further boost regional economies.

I see a lot of goodwill and commitment on the part of Mâori to work with Government and yourselves so the potential of our regions is realised and we are able to meet the challenges of global competition together.

Working inclusively with a sense of unity and cohesion is the critical lynchpin of regional development. And that development only has power if it reflects the aspirations of all the people represented in a local community.

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