Te Ōhanga Māori contributes to wellbeing data

A new report on the size and scope of the Māori economy will contribute to Māori wellbeing by continuing to build the picture of Māori employment, economic activity and assets.

Published: Rāpare, 28 Kohitātea, 2021 | Thursday, 28 January 2021

The new report from Business and Economic Research Ltd called Te Ōhanga Māori  has been produced for the Reserve Bank. It has updated data on the size and scope of the Māori economy.

The Māori asset base has risen to $68.7 billion, up from $42.6 billion in 2013 and $36.9 billion in 2010. This annual growth is by 10 per cent since 2010 and by 8 per cent since 2013 (compared to 4.4 and 3.6 per cent for the overall economy respectively).  

Te Puni Kōkiri Deputy Secretary Strategy, Governance and Public Sector Performance, Hamiora Bowkett said to achieve equitable participation, higher incomes and prosperity for whānau the Māori economy must continue this growth at higher than overall rates.

Mr Bowkett said the report shows the diversity of te ōhanga Māori (the Māori economy) with its strengths in the primary sector (with an asset base of $23.3 billion or 34 per cent of the total) and increasing role as employers of Māori (employing an average of 14 people).

“The construction sector is also an important part of the Māori economy and offers potential to contribute to the COVID-19 recovery and to build more economic resilience through investment in infrastructure. Te Puni Kōkiri wants to ensure government procurement policies enable Māori enterprise to participate equitably in that activity.

“In addition to generating measurable economic activity, Māori take on equally important roles in the whānau and community, including unpaid caring and voluntary work, and trust and business enterprise activities such as serving on boards.”

This latest report follows the publication of Te Matapaeroa in November, providing data on the number and breadth of Māori-owned businesses.  Te Puni Kōkiri commissioned Te Matapaeroa to get a better picture of the contribution of Māori to the wider economy and improve Māori wellbeing data, insights and information. The report identified more than 10,000 Māori businesses - eight times more than previously reported.

The Productivity Commission also produced a section on Māori businesses in its December 2020 draft report of New Zealand firms: Reaching for the frontier. This concluded more work is needed to understand the productivity and performance of Māori firms and how they are contributing to wellbeing, and that it should be coordinated with the economic resilience work being led by Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

The report highlighted access to capital being a barrier for Māori businesses, exacerbated by lower rates of home ownership and lower wages and skill levels.

“The Māori household sector receives 35 per cent of its income from social security and assistance, compared with 9 per cent for non-Māori households. Māori are far more exposed to the economic impacts of COVID-19, which is also driven by exposure to industries such as tourism, retail and accommodation.

“We will work with the Reserve Bank and other core government agencies to advance our discussions with experts, iwi and Māori authorities and the public.”

Mr Bowkett says the expanding body of research and data paint a clearer picture of the nature and extent of the Māori economy and provides valuable intel as government shapes how to best support all New Zealanders through the post-COVID rebuild and recovery phase.

Te Puni Kōkiri is government’s principal policy advisor on Māori wellbeing and development. Its core roles are to empower whānau to succeed, provide a strategic voice to government on Māori wellbeing, invest in Maori innovation and capability and challenge other agencies to deliver better results for Māori.

* The Reserve Bank commissioned Te Ōhanga Māori in early 2020 and is the sequel to the Māori Economy Report 2013 prepared for Te Puni Kōkiri by BERL in 2015.  It provides a richer description of the many roles Māori play in the economy and a snapshot of Māori economic activity just before the pandemic.