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Kōtuitui Inc Launch

Hon Dr Pita Sharples;  Minister of Māori Affairs


Kōtuitui Inc Launch


Te Puni Kōkiri, Wellington

16 November 2009;  4.30 PM

Preparation for this launch got off to a really good start on Saturday night.   In the 45th minute, Ngati Porou man Rory Falloon scored the goal that would qualify New Zealand for the 2010 World Cup finals in Spain.

Over 35,000 soccer fans leapt to their feet as they realised the All Whites had qualified for the World Cup final, for the first time in 27 years – bringing with it a prize of $10 million.

So I acknowledge Ngati Porou for their commitment in demonstrating the power of Kotuitui on the field.

From a team as far afield as the San Jose Earthquakes to the Wellington Phoenix, eighteen players took to the field, each confident in their own distinctive career; each self assured in their own whakapapa; in coming together they were literally invincible.

It is the perfect metaphor for Ngā Kāhui Whetū o Kōtuitui Māori – the interweaving and bringing together of this star cluster of Maori business networks.

Kotuitui Inc is a concept which the Maori Business Networks have been discussing since May last year.  
During 2009 my Maori Economic Taskforce has picked up the challenge to come together with the Maori Business networks to share resources and experiences, to demonstrate the power of the collective

And just as in their combined force the All Whites excelled, so too, do we believe the network of Maori Businesses will be strengthened by the opportunity for businesses to mentor and support each other, including supporting new and emerging enterprises. 

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This aspect – the value of collaboration between Māori within and across sectors - was a key theme from the Economic Workshop I held earlier this year.  

At that hui we recognised that greater cohesion was necessary to ensure that tangata whenua make the most of Māori assets as we strive towards our overall well-being. 

What we all know by now, is that Māori working with Māori to pool resources is not just about strengthening every individual enterprise – it also creates efficiencies and benefits for the collective network.

You might have heard of that saying

He maramatanga to tenei whetu;

he maramatanga ano to tera whetu

Each star has its own brilliance; its radiance and special shine.

Ngā Kāhui Whetū o Kōtuitui Māori is all the proof we need that while every star has their unique shine, as a galaxy the cumulative force is overwhelming.

We know that within the twelve Maori Business Networks actively operating in Aotearoa, some of these networks have upwards of 200 members and, like so many organisations in Māoridom, they have tended to operate on the aroha of committed individuals.

This can, in and of itself, create challenges for even the tightest network.  How do you maintain momentum and co-ordinate activities when the membership is so widely dispersed?

Well it’s all in the whakapapa.   And I’m not just referring to the Peachey and Sadlier whakapapa that produced Rory Falloon.

Seriously, the added value that is unique to Maori business networks, is the capacity to exercise our whakawhanaungatanga as a business entity.

As uniquely Māori businesses we continue to focus on protocols, processes and practices that place business and other dealings within a broader context of relationships and informal and formal institutions.
nother distinctive facet of Kotuitui will be the opportunity to build on kaupapa Māori models of Maori businesses.

A Maori business must operate in both a general business environment while also being consistent with their own philosophical value systems, their own kaupapa and tikanga. 

To be a successful Maori business we must be able to satisfy quadruple bottom line accounting – cultural, social, environmental and economic. 

In this light, I am also very pleased to learn that supporting the use of te reo Māori and kaupapa Māori is one of your critical objectives.

Ropata Wahawaha McLeod, of Ngati Porou; Chairperson of the New Zealand Business Roundtable defines a Maori business as:.

“Whether or not a business is Maori is not about the ethnicity of the owner, but whether the business practices are dominated by the ethos of Maori cultural practices.

And so today we celebrate Kotuitui, for investing in Māori businesses to to maximise our contribution to the survival and advancement of Māori as a people. 

Of course we all know that tangata whenua are an active and significant participant in the economy.  Each member of the networks that have clustered together under Kōtuitui Inc contributes to that.

A common perception is that Maori organisations are inherently conservative in their outlook.

And yet as the members of Kotuitui could testify; tangata whenua have taken on ownership of a diverse range of businesses from private hospitals and retirement villages, to thermal energy companies, telecommunication businesses, wine and food companies and major tourism developments.

The challenges before us then, is to ensure we know how to maintain networks, develop influential relationships with other business; and continue to grow the market of Maori businesses within our economy.

I want to come back to this aspect of relationships as such a critical thread to our success as Maori entities.  Earlier this year, we also recognised that building relationships with government agencies and non-government organisations was important, and I absolutely tautoko this as a key focus of Kōtuitui Inc’s relationships strategy.

And I want to share a story about another success that took place in this last weekend.  While the All Whites were in action, in Kahungunu land, in the Opera House in Hastings, the Waiata Maori Music Awards were held.  

One of the Awards, the contemporary Music Industry Award went to the reggae band, Herbs.  The 2009 award honoured Maori artists such as guitarist Dilworth Karaka, Morrie Watene on saxophone, Tama Lundon on keyboard and percussionist Thom Nepia with Tama Renata.

 The success of Herbs has been in reaching out to set a standard for Pacific reggae while at the same time carrying messages of universal impact.

 In its time Herbs had ten top twenty singles hit, including Slice of Heaven with Dave Dobbyn and See What Love can do with Annie Crummer.   Working together, collaborating with Pacific artists, with Pakeha artists, while at the same time proudly Maori.

And I think it reminds us about the capacity of Maori businesses to be able to speak to Maori communities, while also reaching out across other communities as well.

As Māori, we know that through whanaungatanga and manaakitanga, the positive application of our competitive edge benefits Māori; but it benefits all New Zealanders too.  

And so I congratulate all of you within Kotuitui for your commitment to cast your net as widely as you can – here at home and to other indigenous peoples, as well as across others communities as well.

I wish you all great success as you launch this exciting new enterprise.


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