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A True Picture Of Māori Business Activity

A better picture of the contribution Māori businesses make to the economy will be possible with changes to the way information is collected about companies and trading enterprises.

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash have announced a new option for Māori enterprises who are part of the New Zealand Business Number register at the Companies Office (NZBN).

“The NZBN is a unique identifier for all businesses, big and small. It is designed to make it faster and easier to do business by holding core information on a digital register, so it doesn’t need to be repeated each time they do a transaction with another agency,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“For the first time, the NZBN will have the option to record data that identifies a business as a Māori business, alongside details like its trading name and email address and phone number.

“Māori businesses will have a check-box field to complete on the digital NZBN register. To ensure consistency with other agencies, such as Statistics NZ, businesses will be able to self-identify as a Māori business based on a number of factors.

“The factors which might influence their decision to identify as a Māori business could include ownership and directorship, staff members, philosophy and tikanga, management practices, branding and marketing, tangible assets such as land or fishing rights, or intangible assets like kaupapa Māori or cultural property.

“As the economy continues to pick up momentum following the impact of COVID19, we will be able to track how Māori businesses are responding too. The impact of COVID has been uneven across sectors, and I expect we will see similar results for Māori enterprises.

“In 2013 BERL estimated that the Māori economy was valued at approximately $42 billion and that more than 70% of the Māori economy was made up of sole traders and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“There is a lack of official data relating to Māori businesses and their contribution to the economy. One of the key challenges is being able to reliably identify Māori businesses. An identifier for Māori businesses in the NZBN Register will help to rectify this.

“Māori economic development is a priority for Government The value of Māori economic activity is also recognised in the Crown–Māori Economic Growth Partnership Strategy He kai kei aku ringa,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“The NZBN register includes all types of businesses, such as sole traders and the self-employed, trusts, contractors, tradespeople, partnerships, limited liability companies and also public sector agencies,” said Stuart Nash.

“It offers a link to the business information often asked for by other businesses, organisations and government agencies. Having an NZBN, and keeping it up-to-date, means businesses don’t have to keep repeating these details or advising all of their contacts when the information changes.

“The change will allow for more accurate measurement of Māori economic activity, make it easier for investment or collaboration with Māori businesses, and better measure the effectiveness of government policies for Māori economic development.

“It could take up to two years for the system to be fully functional and for businesses to update their information, as the process is voluntary,” said Mr Nash.

Ms Mahuta and Mr Nash paid tribute to the agencies who have been working on the idea of a Māori identifier for NZBN for the past year. Treasury, MBIE, StatsNZ, Te Puni Kōkiri, Inland Revenue, NZ Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry for Primary Industries have been working alongside the leaders of New Zealand Māori Tourism, Federation of Māori Authorities, Poutama and the Māori Women’s Development Inc.

Traci Houpapa, Chair of FOMA, the Federation of Māori Authorities noted that “It has been great to see government listen to our issues and suggestions and to see tangible results. There is more work to do but we can finally start to see a solution to the lack of data on Māori economic activity.”

“It has always been difficult to understand the issues and needs of Māori SMEs. Collecting data on who they are and what they provide will help us to understand how we can support those businesses” said Pania Tyson-Nathan, CEO of NZ Māori Tourism.

The Māori business identifier is now being built into the NZBN, and existing and new businesses will be invited to update or register their information when it becomes available.

For more information about the New Zealand Business Number visit

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