By: Ruth Wong Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi communications adviser.
The Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency is sponsoring a series of Māori Economic Summit hui throughout the country in August.
Heretaunga Taiwhenua is hosting one of the hui in Hastings at the newly opened Hawke's Bay Opera House - ToiToi Centre on Tuesday, August 18.
Taiwhenua chief executive George Reedy says the key objective of this hui will be on empowering not only emerging Māori enterprises but other small businesses that were badly affected by the Covid–19 alert level 4 lockdown.
Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana is the Whānau Ora business leader for this area and has suggested the theme for the event be "Ohanga + Tikanga = Oranga" or in other words, "Commerce + Culture = Healthy Communities".
Tomoana also chairs the economic development team for the National Iwi Chairs Forum and in past years he chaired the Māori Economic Development panel for the Strategy to 2040 - He Kai Kei Aku Ringa – The Crown Māori Economic Growth Partnership.
Before and during lockdown, the practice of tikanga through manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga catapulted Māori custom to the forefront of looking after whānau/families and our communities.
All around the country, without hesitation, Māori and iwi businesses, great and small, dropped all normal activities in support of our communities.
Classic networks were revived in order to achieve speed, mobility and agility in reaching whānau and communities that needed medical supplies, equipment, food and so forth.
One example of this is when the iwi partnered with the Hawke's Bay District Health Board and established the Tihei Mauri Ora Centre – a distribution outlet for resourcing our vulnerable elderly and needy families in our communities, the partnership was one thing, but the existing structure from iwi to Taiwhenua, marae and communities was wonderful to see in action.
Central, regional, and local government authorities recognised that Māori organisations were able to respond with greater rapidity and greater reach into communities, more than they could ever achieve.
In that regard, Māori were moving faster than the Government and all of its agencies. In essence this is Commerce + Culture = Healthy Communities.
However, since lockdown was lifted, very quickly, walls and barriers between agencies, and agencies and communities, have tumbled, hence we are in this new yet familiar recovery stage.
Unfortunately, Māori have not been called upon to lead community and business revival, economic growth and innovation.
In other words, in the charge toward economic recovery, Māori leadership has been ignored. However, we firmly believe that through our Arataki/leadership process, just as with kaitiaki and manaaki, we could also lead an economic and social recovery.
We have institutional capacity among our land incorporations, our iwi groups, our iwi settlement groups, our Taiwhenua, and our community champions, to provide this leadership in economic recovery, but we are without the tools and instruments to provide this recovery and renaissance.
Culture and Commerce are our twin drivers. In any economic recovery process, our ōhanga and our tikanga will help to provide oranga/wellbeing.
Takitimu Te Pa Tuwatawata
Te Waka Takitimu and all its customs provides strong foundations and walls against devastating economic winds. We can use Takitimu to lean into the wind and provide a new pathway to successful community outcomes.
The hui will be held from 9am-3pm in a format suited to this kaupapa.
The first part of the day will involve a number of short presentations from groups and agencies who help businesses. Presenters include funding agencies, government agencies such as the Ministry of Social Development, the Department of Inland Revenue, banks and small business brokers.
The second half of the day will involve a "Dragon's Den"-style setting and presentations from 10 small businesses that will have the opportunity to highlight their business and share what innovative things they are doing to progress their business through the effects of Covid-19.
A panel of experts will judge the presentations. The top two innovative businesses will receive a $2500 cash fund to support their business.
The hui will end at 3pm, but there will be an opportunity for agencies to have booths where a speed-dating style of networking will take place to allow one-on-one discussion.
It's geared up to be one of the best economic summits and one not to be missed. All participants will need to register to attend.