May 6, 2011

The Maori Economic Summit

The Maori Economic Summit has walked into a storm of criticism from Phil Goff, Meteria Turei and Syd Keepa. Keepa claims the Maori Economic Taskforce, established by the Maori Party, focussed only on how “Maori corporates can break into international markets rather than what is happening in the community”. This is good point I think. It reminds me of Tuku Morgan’s fixation with international financial markets. I remember an episode of Native Affairs where Tuku took a Maori Television team to New York to cover a glorified visit to the New York stock exchange. Tuku barked on about how Maori need to become global players and the way to do that is break into international financial markets. That is all well and good, but Maori should not jump ahead of themselves. We need to sort our own house out first – then we can worry about becoming “global players”.

As I said Phil Goff and Meteria Turei have come out hard against the taskforce and the summit. Turei called on the summit to address the needs of small rural Maori communities rather than “think big projects”. Goff ran a similar line; however he slammed the summit even before the first karakia was uttered.

Keepa, Turei and Goff made valid criticisms and suggested valid areas of concern, but I tend to think they were a bit quick in writing it all off.

Now, you might think the summit was all negative. It wasn’t. Bill English addressed the summit and he had this to say:

Maori businesses stand to benefit from the rebalancing of the economy his government is attempting, especially if they focus on exporting.

Does that mean Maori business stand to gain from asset sales, privatisation of social services and so on? Theoretically, Maori business will benefit, but do we want that benefit to come at the expense of all New Zealanders?

Economist Ganesh Nana also addressed the summit and said:

Investment in science and innovation in the Maori economy could create up to 150,000 new jobs by 2061 - while doing nothing will lead to a reduction in jobs.

This deserves serious consideration. I have always thought the Maori economy needs to refocus. The Maori economy is still based, for the most part, on primary production. I would like to see a shift towards investment in growth industries, like science and technology, rather than expanding the primary sector of the Maori economy. Essentially, structural change is required.

The central message coming out of the summit was Maori cannot afford to do nothing. According to the taskforce if the recommendations were to be followed 150,000 jobs could be created and the Maori economy could be lifted by $12 billion over 50 years. By contrast, doing nothing would cost 185,000 jobs and leave Maori lagging behind economically. It’s a clear choice.


  1. Choice one Morgan and hmmmm. I attended the Summit 2 years back and am of mixed mind. Will gather my notes and write more soon...

  2. Gotta be in it to win it...I suppose why not focus on thinking big while acting small?

  3. Interesting reading - plenty to think about there. My view is that whatever Māori do with their funds should be in keeping with Tikanga Māori. Primary industry will always play a part in that - to me it's not about Primary or technology opr science - it's about 'does this fit with our Tikanga. I don't understand Māori investing in things like Casinos (IMHO) whereas Green-based industries, technologies, sciences or ventures that have an eye to looking after our lands and oceans is something I CAN understand.

  4. Morgan if I had a dollar for every time i heard some economist preach to Maori that our future is in bio-energy/cleantech/clean-energy/hi-tech science and technology blah blah I could retire. Yeah while some of these may possess some commercial longevity conducive with global demand now and into the future we will never have the R&D budgets to compete with every other nation looking to do the same. Hell our total R&D budget is less than Nokia's!!!!! Maori corporate economic success IS and NEEDS to remain in primary production as we will never be able to sell our lands???? our fishing quotas without some monumental paradigm shift at the grass roots level voter base OR some shifty asset holding! But seriously we need to be developing more and more JV's with water or protein deficient economies and become their gardens like we were for Britain several decades ago. Simple really when you think about it. Markets guaranteed, continued employment for our people, everyone happy yeah?

  5. Kia ora, my sense is maori can be clean tech, farm/organic kai etc leaders over time. Aotearoa can be a clean energy leader - which would end current community conflicts over deep sea oil and coal etc, this would give Aotearoa an edge, and of course balance. I would be interested in Maori having more to do with Meridian Energy, and with clean energy in general and perhaps rail.

    Aotearoa will always be a rural nation, but in time its cities may turn into eco cities, and there will be clean tech hubs there.

    In short visionary leaders are needed, Tuku is not one of them. It will be interesting to see what else Syd says soon. Perhaps he will advocate maori and unions having a greater involvement in clean energy technology and manufacture.

    As a pacific nation, we should make use of out great waves, and winds, and of course land, they are out taonga, we must treasure them and plan wisely.

  6. While we have the gradients of rivers, short distance from mountains to sea and plentiful rain - wind and wave will remain niche and sadly not become mainstream. Expect to see more and more water storage, dams, council owned, private/public owned, iwi/public owned. Thats the next wave. It wont be about owning water but owning allocation rights. European nations like Holland, Belgium and those that dont have mountains and rivers have had wave and wind generation for decades. its far from new and if any country is going to lead this it will be those and other water deficient countries like Singapore!

    Yup we might participate in smartfood fads and clean tech but like I say we will never lead as we dont have the R&D budgets not the political will to move to that..I mean hell for a supposed clean green 100% pure (a farce I know) intentioned country needing to move away from a dependency on fossil fuels WE ARE DISHING OUT OIL PROSPECTING LICENSES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!! No political will, never will be as they are consensus lead.

  7. What is Aotearoa got capital from China and Brazil etc to develop clean tech and worked with them. There is huge market for clean energy in Asia. If China or a country decided to transition off coal and into clean energy.. there would be a gigantic market.

    Yes water is going to be more and more important. So is low carbon development and clean energy.

    Aotearoa needs to green its cities and think about how it can build a green maori economy: tidal energy, windturbine manufacture and so on will become more common in Aotearoa. Selling coal to China, and logs to Japan, and mild powder overseas doesn't cut it.

    I look forward to perhaps the green and Te Mana parties collaborating on development and trade, as well as economic policy.

    Asia needs healthy food and low carbon technology, Aotearoa can be a pacific leader.. it needs a vision and plan. Labour and National lack both.

  8. knowing a market opportunity is one thing having the capacity to do something bout it another. We need to walk our talk first before foreign markets will take us seriously as suppliers. Simple business prudence would suggest we stick to what we are known to have competency in .... farming, forestry and fishing. We simply dont have the R&D nor decades of reputation in all the bio, clean energy, clean-tech to compete. Its not like something like wine where our natural features like terroir set us aside from the rest - these industries are manufactured. Never will. If you get the chance listen to Sir Paul Callaghan speak - NZ'der of the year. That guy knows where its at.

  9. Why are Maori so under represented in Parliament? It seems that they don't run for anything outside of their 4 allotted/guaranteed spaces, for fear of competition with people of European ancestry. Asians also have no ethnic representation in Parliament. Although ethnicity doesn't necessarily entail loyalties, on issues such as Maori governments' land and jurisdictional rights, serious change cannot occur without substantial representation.

    Also, why is New Zealand society so degenerate when it comes to materialism, nationalism, politicism, racism, substance addiction, selfish individualism, and gender issues? Although the same question can be asked of most any society, New Zealand is certainly not the best among them- it is a nation of strange people who lack drive and guidance, and walk around in life doing nothing of particular interest, under a loosely independent British settler government that tries to justify its constant, at times illegal jurisdictional overreach in New Zealand through a toned down version of racial superiority theories and a laughable treaty that would not stand against critical examination in any truly unbiased courtroom. The idea that tribes that did not sign the treaty could be bound by it is an interesting invention, as is the idea of applying right of discovery to an already inhabited landmass, South Island.

    It's a place of veiled and muted hostilities that can never be at peace. It has an incompetent and unlawful government and a heavily placated, unhealthy, and indifferent populace ripe for being taken for all that they have or may yet attain. It's an environmental catastrophe. The largest city is in an active volcano field. Christchurch and Wellington suffer from severe earthquakes, and both would be submerged in ash if Lake Taupo erupted again. I can't imagine why someone would willingly choose to live there under such circumstances.



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