Raising Maori Investment Capability Conference

Speech – The Maori Party

Exactly one year ago, my colleague Hon Dr Pita Sharples alongside of Minister Steven Joyce and the Mori Economic Development Panel released a strategy and action plan driven by the concept, He Kai Kei aku ringa.
Te Ururoa Flavell – Speech

Raising Maori Investment Capability Conference

ASB Arena Tauranga 28 November 2013; 9am

Exactly one year ago, my colleague Hon Dr Pita Sharples – alongside of Minister Steven Joyce and the Māori Economic Development Panel released a strategy and action plan driven by the concept, He Kai Kei aku ringa.

The joint Ministerial approach to Māori economic development was in itself ground-breaking. It illustrated that improving Māori incomes through economic development will also improve the nation’s growth prospects.

So where did the motivation for He Kai Kei aku ringa come from?

The whakaaro behind those words, predates us to the generation of our parents and grandparents. It takes us back to the time of the great Depression; a period post two world wars.

Our parents would say, despite all the hard times, we still had the ability to gather and grow our own kai with our own hands. We were never without hope; where there were whānau there was resilience, determination and vibrant optimism.

So here we are now, a year on from that strategy; a lifetime on from the generation of our parents – thinking about the opportunity represented by your conference theme : whakapiki i te pūtea.

I want to thank the visionaries behind this hui, for taking the initiative to bring us together. The aspiration to raise Māori investment capability is in direct response to the fact that a number of iwi are approaching rapid resolution of their treaty claims and their thoughts are naturally turning to the question of what happens next. It also recognises the fact that we have a very large number of trusts and incorporations who are seeking to diversify their activities.

The settlement of Treaty claims has provided iwi with a momentum that sees Maori moving into the upper echelons of the economy and we should be celebrating that momentum.

At the other end of the economic scale we continue to provide the grunt in areas such as construction, general labouring, manufacturing and service provision – we are represented right across the spectrum.

It is now time for other Maori entities to come forward and look to the careful and deliberate use of their resources – whether that be from settlements or from their own successful activities in farming or horticulture – to provide for an enduring future for our people.

That is why – this forum – Whakapiki i te Putea – is perfectly placed to take advantage of where we’ve come from, and help steer us towards a new pathway leading to prosperity; productivity and partnership that elevates all whānau.

I think it is fitting that this Raising Maori Investment Capability conference should be held here in Tauranga because when we think about the economy and the engines that drive it, especially in this part of the country, it is impossible to not recognise Tauranga and its busy port – the largest export port in the country.

In 2011 the Port returned a net profit after tax of $57.9 million, shipped out 4.4 million tonnes of logs and had container volumes up by 15% to nearly 600,000 units. Last year was another record year with after tax profits of $70 plus million.

It is a stunning story of economic prowess, occurring right here, under the protection of the maunga, Mangatawa. Why is that important? For those who appreciate the importance of context, some say it is from here that the tupuna, Kahungunu, set out on his wanderings.

But Mangatawa is also important because all the rock that forms the roads, railways and the foundations of the successful port I was just referring to also from this very maunga.

Nga Potiki, the hapu holding mana whenua has had to make a major contribution to the infrastructure of Tauranga and Mt Maunganui. Their lands were taken for road and rail construction, the wastewater treatment plant, schools and a rifle range. In fact the land on which this venue sits was formerly theirs.

What this tells me is that much of the success of the Tauranga economy is based on land and assets that formerly belonged to Maori but which was forcefully acquired either through confiscation following the wars of the 1860s or in latter years, via the Public Works Act. It is the unseen and largely unremembered contribution made by Maori. And if that’s true for Tauranga then it’s likely that the same story can be applied to where ever you come from.

The very first private member’s bill that the Māori Party proceeded to advance through parliament was in fact one I sponsored in 2007, the Public Works (Offer back or and compensation for acquired land) amendment bill. That bill sought to ensure that former owners of Māori or general land taken or acquired by the Crown for the purposes of a public work are given the first right of refusal to purchase that land where the Crown no longer requires it for the public work for which it was originally taken or acquired.

Our bill essentially recognised that the Public Works Act has been responsible for a vast amount of State acquisition of Māori land. Indeed, some might call this State-sponsored theft of tribal whenua. We believed then – and remain convinced now – that every opportunity should be taken to return this land back to the original owners where the public purpose has expired.

When it came to the vote however, only the Māori Party and the Greens were prepared to allow justice not only to be done – but to be seen to be done. All other parties voted the Bill down; leaving it for another generation to take up on our behalf.

While we didn’t gain the votes at that time; we have not and will not compromise on our desire to make a significant impact on the Māori economy and Māori investment capability, whatever it takes.

I believe the time has come to turn that foundation of Māori ownership and origins to our benefit.

Te Tumu Paeroa/the Māori Trustee – Jamie Tuuta – has coined an interesting phrase to describe the role of Māori investment within the wider community. He labels the Māori economy as a developing economy within a developed economy. He talks the language of transformation – seeking an acceleration in the rate of enterprise development in order to ultimately improve returns for Māori landowners; a more active management of land and assets.

His intentions are clear – to drive forward change; to develop Māori human capital; to lift the traditionally low return on assets.

It’s time for Maori to start reaping the benefits of the infrastructure and the economy which has been partly founded on our own involuntary contribution. The question for us is how do we do that?

You, everyone attending this hui, are part of the answer to this question. The drive, energy, vision and ideas that you bring can all contribute to building a different future for Maori.

Yes the Maori economic contribution to the nation is still largely confined to tourism and the three F’s of Farming, Fishing and Forestry but the increasing involvement of Maori entities in activities such as property, finance and manufacturing shows that we are facing a sea change.

Some of the investment options that you have been discussing here over the last day or so are examples of that. Maori are now taking a more integrated role in participating in the economy.

Take farming for example where the emergence of new ventures like Miraka Ltd show a logical next step and a new way forward for our many trusts and incorporations who have been involved in dairy farming for many generations. Miraka is becoming more market orientated; more focused on the value chain. It is determined to make the most of its opportunities to seek greater return on the value of primary produce in our long term plan.

Another fine example of diversification of resources is that of the manuka honey industry.

The new partnerships being formed in the generation of geothermal energy are another building block for Maori investment and I know that several such ventures are represented here. These are exciting and innovative times and I am intrigued by some of the investment options being explored at this conference. For example the very next session whets the appetite of curiousity – Chinese dragons drink NZ pinot noir.

What can we do to help? The Maori Party sees our first job as an independent and authentic voice for Māori – to do what we can to put the traction on government to provide a stable political environment which encourages economic growth in a time of global uncertainty. Not an easy task. But one our whānau deserve and are entitled to.

Our President, Rangimarie Naida Glavish, often says our days of doing a haka outside the gate are long over. Our challenge now is to be at the decision-making table, coming forward with solutions; making a difference; providing space for Māori voices to be heard.

I think Government should help by looking at ways to eliminate unnecessary business compliance costs, help by finding new markets for New Zealand products or to strengthen our presence in existing markets; support for industry education and training; encouraging research and development and most importantly looking for employment opportunities – all things that can help to create an environment which encourages Maori business investment.

One of our most exciting initiatives along this line for example in Budget 2013 was to boost the number of trades training places for Maori and Pasifika trades from 600 to 3,000 places, spending $43 million over four years.

This Initiative introduced by our co-leader Tariana Turia, in conjunction with Steven Joyce, aims to ensure more Māori and Pasifika learners, aged 18-34, can obtain meaningful trades qualifications and apprenticeships. The end goal is that all participants gain a level 4 trade qualification and employment.

Of course we are also very aware that it is not just training and employment rates that we should be looking at, but the so-called tail of underachievement in education if we are to really support Māori to achieve our full economic potential. That’s an ongoing work in progress – suffice to say it remains one of our greatest focus areas in the relationship accord we negotiated with National.

As you know the Maori Party is also very supportive of building a strong Brand Maori but this should apply not just to exports but to investment as well. In the submissions received by the Māori Economic Taskforce, there was a consistent theme that ‘brand Māori’ is currently “an under-leveraged global value proposition”.

That seems bizarre to me. What we all know about tangata whenua enterprise is that we own substantial assets; we are significant exporters; we are making a huge contribution to the economy – and we are also in charge of some hefty commercial ventures. A recent Berl report predicts further that an additional 160,000 new jobs – and an extra $12.11 billion in the bank could result if Māori invest successfully in science and innovation. It shouldn’t be a case of whether we think it’s important – it should be why not?

For what we also know, is that is we were able to acquire greater productivity from the Māori economy the returns could be as great as over another one billion dollars in export revenue.

It stands to reason when one examines our potential. If we go back to the three Fs for instance; current estimates suggest that 40% of fishing quotas are controlled by Māori; 43% of forestry is grown on Māori land; while 25% of our beef and lamb is farmed on Māori land. Whatever way you spin it the numbers are impressive.

In short; Māori Inc is a key driver of economic growth – an understanding which is consolidated in He Kai Kei aku ringa.

I am convinced and confident that Maori can bring a new perspective to investment opportunities where the cultural component they bring to investment partnerships can add a new and distinct component to the way we do business in this country and overseas.

And if we are thinking of innovation – as indeed we must – we have to rapidly assimilate the knowledge that sees social media as being such a dominant force in the market, in the economy, in the community.

We stand, poised to benefit, from one of the most dynamic periods of change that we have seen to date in the social media revolution. Every second, two new members join Linked In. The facebook nation – of one billion users – would be the third largest country in the world if we counted it as such.

And in the area of employment recruitment and retention, we must pay attention to the fact that 73% of recruiters have successfully hired a candidate through social media. There are no two ways around it – the world is talking through Tumblr; through Twitter; through instagram; through blogs and youtube and facebook – and so too, Māori investment capability must be online; it must be connected.

I don’t believe that parliament has a mortgage on good ideas and we look to you and fora such as these to give us feedback on what could be achieved through maybe tweaking our current arrangements or suggesting new initiatives that we might look at introducing.

I endorse and encourage the objectives of this conference of bringing together hapu and iwi reps to consider investment options from across the economy.

But If there is one more thing I would ask you to think about, – and arguably it is the most important – it would be to encourage you to recognise our whānau as the foundation of the Māori economy – indeed as the foundation of te Ao Māori. Whānau must be empowered to take in lead in all decisions that affect their lives and that approach is as essential in the context of Māori investment capability as any other.

I think we have a collective responsibility to continue the growth of the economy but it needs to be done in a way that will safeguard the putea so that not only is that putea preserved but it is also used to provide an income that helps address some of the many pressures that modern life brings on our people.

I hope you enjoy your conference. I Iook forward to learning about the positive influence that I know you will have in helping our people and the communities we live in. Tena koutou katoa.

ENDS

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