Unlocking the potential of the Māori land agribusiness

The Minister of Māori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples recently launched the report Owners’ Aspirations Regarding the Use of Māori Land at Parliament in conjunction with Hon David Carter, Minister of Agriculture, who released the report Māori Agribusiness in New Zealand: A Study of the Māori Freehold Land Resource.

Dr Sharples says the reports look into the economic, cultural and social aspirations Māori communities have for their land, and the potential of agribusiness in Māori-owned land.

Te Puni Kōkiri’s report presents findings from six hui held throughout 2010 with owners of large and small land blocks. The land owners were asked what their aspirations were and how they can best be supported. The consensus was that Māori land should be retained and used to enable it to be passed onto future generations. The use of the land should balance commercial and cultural imperatives.

The report says there are several barriers to Māori developing this land, including complex governance and management structures, as well as business knowledge and skills.

“The report also shows that Māori are successfully advancing their aspirations for the benefit of their whānau now and in the future,” Dr Sharples says.

The Ministry of Agriculture report found that about 80% of Māori freehold land - or 1.2 million hectares - is under-utilised or under-performing.

Agriculture Minister David Carter says Māori agribusiness is a key priority for the Government and the reports will help it lift the productivity of Māori land and agribusiness.

He says Māori landowners are already significant contributors to New Zealand’s primary sectors but there is room for them to develop into more profitable and sustainable businesses.

The reports recommend a review of the regulatory environment for Māori land ownership groups, as well as training and development programmes for those overseeing Māori entities.