Maori bring cultural and uniqueness to business

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What is a Maori business?

Many modern Maori businesses operate with Maori culture, values, and tradition, alongside modern techniques and technologies. Maori ways of practicing business are playing an important role in transforming the nature of business in New Zealand.

For example Maori (like other indigenous peoples) have long advocated for and practiced the ‘multiple bottom line’ in business. They have also demonstrated that it can work. In recent times, there has been increasing acceptance of the idea that businesses should accept responsibility and be accountable across a range of domains, and should not focus solely on financial profit. Many non-Maori businesses are also beginning to incorporate social, cultural, philanthropic, environmental, and/or other sustainability goals into their Kaupapa.

What makes a Maori business?

Maori businesses are businesses or enterprises that are:

  • owned by Maori, and/or
  • fully or substantially controlled by Maori, and/or
  • operated accordingly to Maori traditional and current values and protocols

Some Maori businesses are owner-operated and some employ people of Maori descent. Others may employ people of diverse ethnicity.

The Maori economy:

The Maori economy is defined as assets owned and income earned by Maori. It includes collectively owned trusts and incorporation’s, Maori owned businesses, and service providers. Within the Maori economy, Maori can express their collective interests and aspirations through these entities and platforms.

The Maori economy is a significant and growing contributor to the total New Zealand economy. Between 1996 and 2003, its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 123% (Te Puni Kokiri, 2007).

In 2007, Maori business was found primarily in agriculture, fisheries, and housing (together comprising 75% of the Maori economy). However, Māori businesses are diversifying, with increasing investment, ownership, and business development by Maori in the tourism and hospitality, telecommunications and energy, dairying, wine, and horticulture industries.

Maori business points of difference:

We as Maori are aware of our position as a minority population in Aotearoa (New Zealand) however Maori are huge stakeholders in the identity of the country. Some Maori businesses operate in an almost identical manner to non-Maori businesses. But there are also areas in which Maori businesses may differ in significant ways from other New Zealand businesses. These differences fall into two categories:

Maori businesses must comply with all laws that apply to New Zealand businesses generally. But in addition, there are some laws that apply only to Maori businesses. For example, the Maori Reserved Lands Act (1997), Te Ture Whenua Maori Act (1993), and the Maori Fisheries Act (2004) set rules and define structures and processes that Maori businesses based on collectively owned assets such as Maori land and fishing quotas must follow.

Maori culture and values may be woven through Maori businesses in clear and obvious ways, or in quite subtle, less visible ways. For example, some businesses are based on tribal assets or openly promote Maori language, culture, and products. Other Maori businesses may appear to operate like non-Maori businesses, but incorporate Maori values such as Manaakitanga, Whanaungatanga, and Tuhonotanga into their thinking and ways of working. Multiple objectives – social, cultural, environmental, spiritual, and economic – are often very important in business as practiced by Maori.

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