Investor drive key to lifting Maori incomes by 20 per cent
The government has published a guide for overseas investors interested in profiting from the fast-growing Maori economy.
The guide gives overseas investors a guide to important Maori cultural values, as well as the statistics which paint a portrait of the Maori economy, which continues to grow at a rate of 5-6 per cent a year, compared to 2-3 per cent for the economy as a whole.
The publication, commissioned from KPMG by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, was unveiled by economic development minister Simon Bridges, at the E RERE Māori economy conference in Rotorua on Friday.
Maori economic leader Robin Hapi said there had never been more optimism for Maori economic prospects than there is now.
"There's a degree of optimism now that hasn't been there before. What we are seeing is the vision started all those years ago when our leaders came together in the early 1980s," said Hapi, chairman of the Māori Economic Development Advisory Board.
The guide includes a brief history of Maori detailing arrival around 1200AD, the appearance of Europeans, and the colonisation of the country, and Maori alienation from the land. It then charts the re-emergence of Maori as an economic force which began in the 1970s and 1980s.
Alongside the guide, Bridges unveiled targets for Maori development, which he called "ambitious".
They included aiming to increase Maori median incomes by 20 per cent by 2021, reduce Maori unemployment to 7.5 per cent, and increase the number of small and medium enterprises owned by Maori by 30 per cent, as well as increasing Maori exports by 9 per cent.
Hapi stressed the importance of the targets, which were set higher than natural economic improvement would create.
"If we were just going to get these leaps through normal progression, it wouldn't be making the difference and the advances we need," Hapi said.
In the last four years, for example, the minimum wage has risen from 14.25 to $15.75, a rise of 10.5 per cent, and median wages across all ethnic populations had risen by 15 per cent.
Bridges told the conference the Maori economy, which has had huge potential to lift the economy as a whole.
"Investors are interested in partnering with Maori, and global consumers are interested in their intergenerational outlook and underpinning cultural values of taking care of people, building strong relationships, and looking after the environment."
The targets also including slashing Maori youth unemployment, and lifting educational attainment.
Hapi said Maori had developed a large asset base, including a huge area of land, and the focus had turned to developing the economic potential of that land.
"What's changed is our people have started to focus on the potential of that land, while ensuring our unique Maori character is not undermined," he said.