The $50 billion Maori economy is poised to get bigger

Iwi are expected to diversify investments away from primary industries.
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Iwi are expected to diversify investments away from primary industries.

The $50 billion Maori economy can only grow from here as more Treaty of Waitangi settlements mature and more iwi groups get involved in the domestic markets, Chapman Tripp says.

A report from the law firm, called Te Ao Maori, anticipates growth in the Maori economy on the back of what it says has been a tumultuous Treaty settlement process.

The report says there will be more active participation from iwi groups in the country's mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market, diversification away from primary industries, and the adoption of tikanga, or guidelines, in a commercial context.

Chapman Tripp chief executive partner Nick Wells said these new investment areas would include geothermal, digital, services, education, tourism and housing.

The Government this year approved a $300 million, 600-home development at a Christchurch racecourse to be developed by ...
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The Government this year approved a $300 million, 600-home development at a Christchurch racecourse to be developed by Ngai Tahu.

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"The relationship between the Crown and Maori continues to evolve and, as more and more Treaty settlements mature, we expect to see further growth in the Maori economy, already estimated as worth $50b.

"Participation in export markets is also increasing and we expect it to increase exponentially in the short-to-medium term, especially in Asia, in the finance and the business sectors and the dairy, forestry, seafood and read meat markets."

Chapman Tripp senior associate Te Aopare Dewes says the Maori economy can only grow.
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Chapman Tripp senior associate Te Aopare Dewes says the Maori economy can only grow.

Chapman Tripp senior associate Te Aopare Dewes said the fact about 40 iwi were still to settle showed the economy "can only grow".

Treaty settlements which had recently come off the table had been worth as much as $100 million, for Ngati Kahungunu ki Heretaunga Tamatea, while at least five others had been worth between $50m and $87m.

Ngai Tahu and Waikato-Tainui were "fairly active" at the moment, Dewes said, but they had settled more than 20 years ago.

Waikato-Tainui's property arm Tainui Group Holdings has had a bit more time to bed down.
TOM LEE/STUFF

Waikato-Tainui's property arm Tainui Group Holdings has had a bit more time to bed down.

"They've had a bit more time to bed things down."

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Dewes said others, such as Ngati Whatua Orakei, were expected to diversify out of property, while geothermal was also expected to be an area of interest as many geothermal resources were located under Maori land.

Iwi could also benefit from a Maori angle on tourism, which was having a natural boom in the country, while housing investment was also expected to grow, particularly as it came with a positive social spinoff for iwi.

The idea of tikanga-based dispute resolution was also becoming more common, Dewes said.

Businesses would need to become familiar with it if they wanted to engage with Maori business, but Dewes said most were very receptive to learning about it.

"It's fairly well understood and it makes sense: it's like a marriage, really.

"As Maori increase their own proficiencies in the business sector then those wanting to work with them will need to understand it."

 - Stuff

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