Prosperity for Māori a key goal of new Māori regional economic development strategy

  • Published Date 21 Aug 2020

A regional Māori strategy designed to contribute to a more prosperous whenua, wai and whānau environment for the wider Wellington region has just been launched.

Titled Te Matarau a Māui: Collaborative Pathways to Prosperous Māori Futures, the strategy recognises that only Māori can determine what their 'prosperous Māori futures' should look like and this strategy is designed to begin the process of giving voice to Māori as they co-create, co-design and co-implement the strategy pathways - and the actions that follow.

The decision to build a Māori regional economic development strategy, the first of its kind for the Wellington region, came from the leadership of the mana whenua partnership forum to the Greater Wellington Regional Council. Mana whenua appointed representatives sat alongside Māori business and rangatahi representatives to guide the development of the strategy.

Coordination of the project was led by Te Puritanga Jefferies, Senior Māori Economic Development Advisor within Te Pane Matua Taio (Greater Wellington), and supported by contractors from Orauariki, Wellington School of Business and Government. However, this strategy could not be without the many kо̄rero, whakaaro and information exchange that took place within the many Māori networks and communities across Te Upoko o Te Ika.

"This strategy marks a turning point for Māori in the Wellington region and will put them in an unprecedented position to take a lead in the future they wish to create for their whānau, hapū and iwi" says  Te Puritanga Jefferies.

"The strategy provides a point of co-ordination for the already significant economic activity underway at local, regional, iwi and organisational levels. It speaks to the opportunities available to develop fresh ideas within collaboration that resonates with Māori aspirations, worldviews and values.

"It is not our intention to duplicate or take over work programmes and plans already in place, but rather to add value to agreed mutual outcomes."

The strategy focuses on five primary areas of opportunity, each supported by an integrated range of actions leading to desired economic, cultural, environmental, social and leadership outcomes for Māori over the next 10 years.

In the crucial area of Iwi, Māori collectives and Māori business growth, the outcome sought is that Iwi organisations and Māori businesses become key drivers in the local, regional and national economy, providing the structural basis from which to respond to opportunities presented by key industries.

This will only become achievable through investment in education, training and employment for Māori, leading to a skilled and successful Māori workforce able to contribute to their communities and enable people to pursue their aspirations.

"Our Māori population is very young, with 58 per cent under 30 years of age compared to 38 per cent of non-Māori, a disparity that's projected to rise over the next 20 years. Our Rangatahi must be able to follow clear education and training pathways to all categories of employment.

"For example, if Māori are to join Wellington's professional workforce, which sits at 30.1 percent of all jobs in the region we have to make a step change to raise the number of Māori professionals here from today's 21 per cent. An ambitious but necessary goal."

The opportunities available to an increasingly skilled Māori workforce will be expanded by the development of innovative infrastructure and information networks, such as business, land and skills databases that enable participation in the regional economy.

"With knowledge comes opportunity. Across the region Māori must know who, what, why and how to participate and collaborate in the Māori economy," says Te Puritanga Jefferies.

A key outcome and flow on effect of establishing the Māori economy's organisational, educational and information foundations will be the development of strong and distinctive Māori communities and environments.

Over time Māori culture will be seen, heard and felt across the region, with connected Māori communities capable of determining their futures based on economic success.

"None of this will be achievable, however, without strong Māori leadership, governance and collaboration. It is through collective action that we will achieve the impact we need to make to create a prosperous future for Māori in the Wellington region and, indeed, beyond."

The focus of this strategy is on regional collaboration and leveraging sub-regional strengths - it relies on enablers coming together. An implementation committee, will be established to take the strategy forward, identifying partners to lead on key strategic actions.

The strategy does not set a detailed timeline for its implementation, realistically taking the view that implementation of its initiatives will depend on the development of a strong implementation structure with the right people and networks. However, it has been designated around a ten year timeframe as the beginning of what is hoped to be intergenerational change.

The strategy can be found at Te Matarau a Māui.

Updated March 30, 2022 at 3:42 PM

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