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BNZ’s New Māori Business Sentiment Survey Reveals Challenges And Opportunities Amid Economic Headwinds

Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) today released the findings of its inaugural Māori Business Sentiment Survey, aimed at providing insights into the current state and future prospects of Māori enterprises. The survey highlights the economic challenges being faced by Māori businesses, while also revealing their resilience and potential for growth.

Whetu Rangi, BNZ's Head of Māori Business, says the survey aims to address the lack of comprehensive data on the experiences and perspectives of Māori businesses.

"The data gap around the sector has been a barrier to understanding and supporting the Māori economy. By launching this survey and committing to conducting it regularly, we are aiming to bridge this gap and foster ongoing collaboration and knowledge sharing. We believe that this survey will become a valuable tool to promote better understanding of the sector and help facilitate the flow of capital within the Māori economy."

The survey, which received 125 responses from those involved with Māori businesses, revealed that economic conditions pose the most significant challenge for Māori enterprises, with 71% of respondents selecting it as their top concern. The findings also showed that nearly half (46%) of the respondents observed deteriorating business conditions over the past 12 months, while only a small fraction (15%) witnessed improvements.

Mike Jones, BNZ's Chief Economist, says that the survey results broadly mirror weak business confidence across the economy.

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"The sentiment expressed in these findings echoes what we're witnessing in other parts of the economy as we navigate through the trough of the economic cycle. If anything, the confidence levels amongst survey respondents are on the weaker side of broader confidence indicators. This may reflect the Māori economy's considerable investments in agriculture, forestry, and property – sectors that are currently under some strain," he says.

Other findings include:

  • The majority (82%) of respondents expect costs to increase further over the coming 12 months.
  • Over the coming 12 months, more survey respondents expect profitability to deteriorate than to improve (27% increase vs. 33% decrease).
  • A similar proportion of respondents expect employment levels in their business to drop (29% increase vs. 34% decrease)

Opportunities amidst adversity

Despite the challenges, the survey also revealed signs of resilience and optimism among Māori businesses. While only 15% of respondents saw improvements in business conditions over the past year, a higher proportion (26%) anticipate better conditions in the coming 12 months.

Furthermore, more than 1 in 3 (37%) of those responding to the survey intend to boost investment in the coming year versus 24% that expect it to decrease. This may be signalling confidence in future growth potential.

"The investment plans reported in our survey are more robust compared to what we've seen in other business confidence surveys. As the economic cycle matures, we'll be closely monitoring whether these intentions gain further momentum,” says Jones.

About the BNZ Māori Business Sentiment Survey

The launch of this survey is a continuation of BNZ’s commitment to Māori business and contributes to its wider strategy to facilitate financial solutions for Māori and enable whānau Māori and businesses to prosper.

The survey was in field May 2024 with base n = 125. Results are indicative, collected using a sample of convenience including BNZ Māori business customers. Results are intended only for discussion and should not be relied upon for decision-making or regarded as representative of the Māori business sector as a whole.

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