New research wants to determine how to turn the strength of the Maori economy into a better standard of living for all Maori people.
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment figures estimate Maori enterprise is worth nearly $40 billion, and growing faster than the economy as a whole.
Iwi-controlled post-settlement assets are worth about $6b and that is expected to double in a decade.
Many iwi have social development and cultural arms alongside their economic development entities. Maori entrepreneurs and small businesses are also driving economic growth.
READ MORE: $42 billion Maori economy about more than just Treaty settlements
“It is great to see Maori benefiting from this development, but some are missing out, so we need to better understand how to advance so that the benefits are widely shared,” said Rachel Wolfgramm, a senior lecturer in management and international business at the University of Auckland Business School.
She is co-leading a project that will look at Maori leadership and decision-making and work out what sort of practises embody traditional values in a way that generates wealth and well-being.
Decisions made on the marae, within iwi corporations and Maori-run businesses affect who gets to enjoy the fruits of this burgeoning economy, she said.
“We want to highlight what’s working well, act as conduits for the collective wisdom out there so people are confident and affirmed and see a pathway forward,” said co-researcher Chellie Margaret Spiller, an associate professor in the same department.
The research is funded by a grant of $499,877 over three years from Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, New Zealand’s Maori Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) funded by the Tertiary Education Commission and hosted by The University of Auckland.
“Traditionally, Maori make decisions based on how it will affect their children and their children’s children,” Spiller said.
“We’re asking are our values guiding decisions, or are they baubles on the wall? If there are tensions between being a kaitiaki and being commercial, for example, how are organisations and people managing those tensions in order to achieve that vision of contributing to wellbeing, not just economic growth?”
She said people involved in trustee roles in Treaty settlements wanted to make sure they got it right.
“There’s a real sense of burden and responsibility about making sure they make good decisions, an awareness they are actors in this historic moment. Iwi with recent or imminent settlements can benefit from the precedent set by Ngai Tahu, Ngati Whatua, Ngati Kahungunu and others. Are there broad principles that could be applied across different settings that could help people make good choices?”