The Tauranga Māori Business Association is hosting the third National Hui for Māori Business Networks and Maori SME’s from 18-19 September at the ASB Arena, Baypark, Tauranga.

ASB Arena, Tauranga: Hosting Te Hekenga Conference

ASB Arena, Tauranga: Hosting Te Hekenga Conference

I posted an article about the importance of the Maori economy to New Zealand last month. It is growing rapidly and has the potential to transform the lives and welfare of a significant part of our community. The organisers of Te Hekenga Conference spell out the opportunity far better than I can. I quote:

‘Maori are increasingly playing a stronger role in national and regional economies and clearly this is set to continue. In the past couple of years we have seen a continuation of there being a relatively strong Maori presence at the top end of business, particularly in property investment – think Ngai Tahu, Tainui and Ngati Whatua – and at the bottom end where Maori continue to provide the unskilled and semi-skilled workers in traditional primary industries such as farming, fishing and forestry as well as food processing and manufacturing and infrastructure construction.

It is interesting that even in these traditional areas of Maori economic activity things are changing as Maori start to take control of bigger chunks of the value/supply chain. The emergence of companies such as Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd and milk processor Miraka Ltd are examples of a long overdue change where Maori are no longer just producers but increasingly are also becoming processors/manufacturers and marketers.

It is in the gap between the top and bottom that we believe there is a role for Maori Business Networks. The greater part of the New Zealand economy is actually made up of Small to Medium Enterprises and assisting more Maori into the SME niche where they can become self-reliant and self-sustaining business entities is a sensible goal for our network organisations to aspire to.’

Over the past few months, Wharf42 has spoken a lot about the value of collaboration. The Te Hekenga Conference provides Māori Business Networks and Maori SME’s with a forum to exchange views, and share the experiences, concerns and challenges that inevitably arise in the running of, or from belonging to, a Maori Business Network. At the close of the Conference, the delegates will disperse and I would hope begin to put the lessons they have learnt into practice.

The Maori economy however is not a disconnected entity. It is part of the larger New Zealand economy and collaboration and partnership within that economy is essential. I am delighted therefore that Te Hekenga is taking place in Tauranga.

In the wider Bay of Plenty, there is currently a significant trend towards building a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem based around collaboration between different business sectors. Maori business is a significant piece in our regional economy. Closer cooperation and collaboration between both Maori and non-Maori business interests will help unite the two sub-regions: The Western and the Eastern Bay of Plenty. The collaboration that is taking place right here, right now is a model that is replicable across the rest of New Zealand.

I had hoped to be able to attend the Conference. Both to learn and to share.

I do not know however what it is about the 18th and 19th September this year. Although we have a General Election on 20th September, the world is not going to end. Not only is the Te Hekenga Conference taking place in Tauranga; Morgo, the annual New Zealand get together for people actively building high growth companies into the world is taking place on the same two days in Waitangi. To cap off the calendar, Callaghan Innovation are in town (Tauranga) to spend the same two days with the WNT Ventures team. This is what I call a diary stuff up.

I still hope to be able to attend part of the Conference. I just need to work out how.

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