The work of the Māori Economic Development Panel (MEDP) aims to re-capture the Māori tradition of self sufficiency and economic self-determination, says Ngāhiwi Tomoana, Chair of the MEDP.
“That’s where our whakatauki He kai kei aku ringa fits in,” Mr Tomoana says. “Essentially, it’s about being self-sufficient and responsible for the resources and capability one needs to grow and develop.”
The independent MEDP was established last year by the Minister of Māori Affairs and the Minister for Economic Development. The Panel was tasked with coming up with a Strategy and Action Plan to improve the economic development outcomes for whānau, hapū and iwi Māori.
Their Discussion Document identifies that the key contributors to the Māori economy are whānau, iwi and Māori collectives, and Māori enterprises. Their strategic goals are: increasing Māori household incomes, increasing wealth in the Māori economy and lifting productivity.
“We know the potential of the Māori economy is significant having been valued at nearly $37 billion in 2010. But we also know that Māori socio-economic outcomes are worse than for non-Māori – this is an ongoing cost to the community and the economy,” Mr Tomoana says.
As the foundation of the Māori economy, it will be important for whānau to achieve economic self-determination in areas such as improving educational achievements and labour market participation.
Collectives and enterprises will also be critical to leading growth in the Māori economy.
“Realising the potential of the Māori economy and improving Māori participation and contribution will help an underachieving New Zealand economy. But we also need a change in the conversation to encourage Māori to actively develop their own capacity,” Mr Tomoana says.
The Panel has been gathering views on the Discussion Document since March through engagement Hui, one-on-one focussed discussions with stakeholders, and written submissions responding to key questions. The Panel expects to report to Ministers by July 2012.