The Māori economy currently represents $50 billion dollars in assets, which is approximately 6% of the total New Zealand asset base.  The value of the Māori asset base is predicted to double to $100 billion dollars by 2030.

There are a growing number of Māori organisations either working in partnership or having significant commercial arrangements with global partners.  Key areas of collaboration include food and beverage, forestry, tourism, construction and high tech industries.  We are also aware of a growing number of global investors who are actively looking for opportunities to engage, invest and collaborate with Māori.

Whilst the Māori economy provides a significant opportunity for global investment and collaboration we are aware of examples where the initial engagement has not been successful as a result of global investors not having an understanding of the values that underpin Māori business.  

In a recent instance a global investor came to New Zealand to do business with a very successful Māori business. To honour the visitors a full powhiri (customary welcome) was arranged. 

The guests had organised the visit within a very tight timeframe, and sent a reasonably junior manager whose focus was to get a memorandum signed.  He was not interested in the protocols, managed to unintentionally insult his hosts, and left without any chance of the paperwork being signed.  

The executive thought that the meeting was a waste of time, and the Māori business was of the view that the global investor was rude, and not an organisation that they should be doing business with. Both organisations missed out on a significant opportunity.

This example highlights the importance that Māori values and culture play in commercial activities.  Having an understanding of Māori values is therefore crucial for any global investor wanting to engage successfully with Māori organisations.

To avoid potential misunderstandings we recommend that potential investors obtain advice from an experienced advisor who can guide them through this crucial aspect of the engagement process. 

For more information on engaging with Māori business email Peter at pjohnston@raineycollins.co.nz

Peter is a trusted legal advisor providing advice to a variety of Māori organisations and groups engaging with Māori business.


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