A new directory of Maori–owned businesses and services showcases the entrepreneurial activities of Maori in Hawke’s Bay.

Henry Heke, accounts manager with the Maori Business Facilitation Service, assembled the directory with the assistance of Ngati Kahungunu Iwi, Inc. The directory is available in book form and on-line at www.tepunapakihi.co.nz. The directory accepts new registrations at no charge, but is restricted to Maori-owned businesses.

Shona Jones, coordinator of the Hawke’s Bay Maori Business Network, estimates that there are between 700 and 1,000 Maori-owned businesses in Hawke’s Bay. A core group of representatives from thirty of these businesses meets regularly to discuss Maori business concerns. The directory “gives a face” to Maori business in Hawke’s Bay, Jones said.

Examples of the businesses currently listed in the directory are Mesa Fibre Mill in Hastings, which processes alpaca fibre and makes garments; Hearty Kiwi Foods Ltd. in Taradale, which produces meat patties and offers healthy food demonstrations, catering and food services; Forest Resources Ltd. in Porangahau, which mills timber and provides logging, marketing and forest management services; Taea Ltd. in Napier, which provides Maori-focused employment opportunities and free mahi panui to jobseekers; and Natural Born Builders in Napier, who offer building project management and build residential and light commercial structures and additions.

While there exists a wide variety of Maori businesses, there is “a real gap in Maori tourism services” in Hawke’s Bay, Jones said, with only a half dozen listed in the directory. A growing international awareness of Maori culture opens many opportunities in this field, she said.

In addition to a couple of hundred businesses and services, the directory lists all the Ngati Kahungunu marae and also institutions, state agencies and schools, such as the Eastern Institute of Technology, which are not Maori-owned but provide key services to Maori. 

“The directory has had a lot of positive feedback,” Heke said, and other areas, such as Gisborne, are planning similar directories.

The publication of the directory follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Hawke’s Bay Maori Business Network in September. As a result of the MOU, the Chamber’s general business support functions are accessible to Network members. Joint promotional strategies and communications are planned.

In announcing the MOU, Hawke’s Bay Maori Business Network chairman Jason Fox said the network “came about from research work at EIT that identified training and networking as valuable forms of support to advance Maori in business.” Under the agreement with the Chamber, Network members can access the Chamber’s general business support functions.

“The Chamber of Commerce is keen to promote the collaboration with the HBMBN as it sees Maori business as the ‘sleeping giant’ in Hawke’s Bay. In due course, as Maori businesses thrive and the Treaty Settlements mature, with 25 % of our population Maori, this will become a tremendous engine for economic growth and wealth in our area,” said Murray Douglas CEO of the Chamber. “In a sense it is actually going back in history, as the first entrepreneurs in Hawke’s Bay were Maori, who in the 1840s and 1850s traded extensively with Australia. So the history is there … we are just catching up in the modern economy and knowing what’s out there is the start,” he said.

The Maori Business Facilitation Service can be found on-line at www.tpk.govt.nz/en/services/business/. To become a member of the Hawke’s Bay Maori Business Network, go to the Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce site at www.hawkesbaychamber.co.nz.

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