Ngai Tahu boss urges collaboration with iwi

Ngai Tahu chair Mark Solomon told directors in Auckland yesterday they could help maximise the potential of the $37 billion Maori economy by supporting that ethnicity's young workers and joining forces with iwi.

Ngai Tahu’s inclusion in the legislation that established the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) in 2011 was an example of how collaboration with iwi could enhance a region, Solomon said.

“People in leadership were getting a better understanding of our aspirations for Christchurch. They realised our vision was the same as theirs. Including Ngai Tahu in the CERA legislation put us front and centre in the recovery of that city. You might be able to enhance a region or city by partnering with iwi.”

Business owners could also make a contribution by starting cadet schemes such as that offered by Aurecon, a Wellington engineering, management and technical services company – and He Toki ki te Rika, the Christchurch Maori trade training programme involving Hawkins Construction, Ngai Tahu and the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.

“Not all of us are leaders with the capacity to offer cadetships. Sometimes the small opportunities have a greater chance to advance our nation. It’s a case of opening doors that were once shut tight to our people.”

The country’s growing young Maori population would make be a bigger part of the taxpaying workforce by 2026 and they needed business leadership skills to contribute effectively to nation building, he said.

“The minimum Maori young people should aspire to is a trade. We want many of them to become business leaders. We need them to be educated – now it’s not just ‘your iwi needs you’, it’s ‘your nation needs you’.”