Māori support New Zealand China Relationships
The current New Zealand China relationship kerfuffle is all avoidable. In 2010 there had been several Iwi Māori Trade missions to China to re-establish a trading route that’s over 10,000 years old as part of the Austronesia language and cultural evolution; which originated in China and into Taiwan and spread throughout Pacific as far as Hawaii and Rapanui to create a population of over 300 million people from 38 nations; not counting the ethnic Chinese. Iwi have a teina tuakana relationship throughout Asia and the Pacific which allows both great and small to operate equally in this cultural setting.
A cultural commerce pathway was established led by Sir Dr Pita Sharples which culminated in a Taniwha Dragon Economic Summit which was held concurrent with Ngāti Kahungunu hosting the Matatini Festival in 2017, 2 years ago to the day.
At that Taniwha Dragon Conference we had some of the industrial giants of the Chinese Economy such as Lei Gardens, Alibaba, Shanghai Cred presenting co-investment opportunities with Iwi Māori and the wider Hawke’s Bay Business community. We also had the giants of Iwi Māori Food producers such as Wakatu, Miraka, Tukairangi, Waikato Tainui, Ngāti Kahu and Ngai Tahu. The ambition of this conference was to generate at least $100m of business at the end of Day 2 which was surpassed when $148m of business was committed to by that time. Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi will also be holding Taniwha Dragon II concurrent with Matatini 2021 hosted by Ngāti Whatua in Auckland.
These relationships continue to grow and endure and could be the underpinning of improved relationships between New Zealand and China from a cultural and commercial base. I have no doubt at all that the Māori component of the New Zealand Trade missions has enabled the wider New Zealand business Community to enjoy greater access into regions previously off limits.
Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi has purchased a deep sea vessel which will export frozen product directly to China once the eligibility registration has been achieved. This would see a multimillion dollar two-way flow of business from this one Iwi entity. Ngai Tahu, Ngāti Kahu and Wakatu and other Iwi Māori entities are enjoying extremely good relationships and success in their cultural and commercial sphere with their Chinese partners. Iwi Māori Companies through the cultural and commercial imperatives can pave the way for more enduring relationships between the two countries despite the short term myopic views of the New Zealand government coalition partners.
Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi is scheduling a visit to Hong Kong and Beijing in early May to re-strengthen our relationships with our Chinese Partners before heading to Tokyo to do the same with our Japanese partners.
We of the Pou Tāhua Economic Board for National Iwi Chairs Forum will encourage and support this current Government to rebuild and enhance their relationships with China.
We have a saying “Ahakoa niania he pounamu” and in this context it means although Māori may be small players our relationships are of high quality and high value.