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Māori organisations need to hone their support, KPMG

Māori organisations need to hone their support, KPMG

Māori organisations need to make some “tough choices” around where they focus their energy and resources, say the authors of a newly-launched KPMG report.

The report, titled Māui Rau: from aspiration to execution, has been co-authored by Māori sector leaders at KPMG New Zealand and ASB Bank.

Riria Te Kanawa from KPMG says many Māori organisations, especially those focused on the well-being of their people, are being pulled in too many different directions by their various stakeholder groups.

“Our elected leaders face many competing demands from their membership, and this weight of pressure then gets transferred to the organisation’s operations…so they are constantly on the treadmill, or in fire-fighting mode.”

What is required, according to Te Kanawa, is for the organisation to replace this with a targeted and strategy-led approach.

“The first step is to make some clear choices – and sometimes tough choices – around the group of people you will wrap your energy and support around. Because the current blanket approach is not effective.

“When we consider that the assistance an annual tribal budget can provide is likely to equate to less than $500 per iwi member, per year; it becomes clear that you can’t do everything on that. So another approach to consider is how we could more effectively target those funds for impact.”

One way of looking at it, says Te Kanawa, is by dividing iwi membership into three broad groups. The first group “sit in the better part of the statistics” – those who are educated, employed and/or business owners. At the other end of the spectrum are those who face the kind of serious challenges that the iwi cannot reasonably be expected to address alone.

“It’s the middle group where tribal investment is likely to have the highest impact,” says Te Kanawa.

“This is where iwi can play a pivotal role in enabling their members to achieve their goals for their whanau; and where investment may be more effectively targeted.”

The Māui Rau report highlights another key recommendation for those Māori organisations that have commercial entities operating as a separate entity within their wider tribal group. ASB’s Kirikaiahi Mahutariki says the two groups are often driven by different values.

“The commercial business is focused on generating financial returns, and they can sometimes, but not always, lose sight of the parent entity’s wider social purpose.

“So we need the commercial business to view things through the tribal lens – but equally, we need the tribal entity to understand the commercial constraints and opportunities that exist.”

This is reflected in the global shift towards corporates embracing a wider social purpose. Blackrock chairman Larry Fink has famously called on global CEOs to positively demonstrate how their companies are contributing to society.

“This kind of holistic thinking comes naturally to Māori,” says Mahutariki.

“Our challenge is to balance commercial drivers with the non-commercial returns that are important to us. For instance, if we want our commercial farming operations to reflect our environmental values; there will be a financial cost to that. Each dividend package will be made up of both financial and non-financial components; and that’s a conversation worth exploring.”

• The 2018 Māui Rau report was officially launched at a hui in Auckland yesterday evening (October 18), where Lacey Horn is keynote speaker. Lacey is Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation, which is the federally-recognised government of the Cherokee people. In this role, Lacey oversees the tribal administration’s US$1 billion annual budget. She also serves on the US Department of Treasury’s Tribal Advisory Committee.


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