ADVOCATE COLUMN 4th WEEK SEPTEMBER 2017
When you look at the future well-being and prosperity of the Far North, most of us can relate to the fact that there is a lot of work to do and many historical wrongs to be righted. However, the potential and future opportunities are equally exciting. Obviously, it starts with aspiration and it is heartening as somewhat of an outsider, to see Far North community leaders talk of creating a new environment where it is normal to be Maori, healthy, prosperous, educated and connected and of creating enduring pathways for whanau to cultivate generational wellbeing.
I imagine a key to this will be the ability of Maori ahu whenua trusts, incorporations and Iwi asset holding entities to participate in the economy in a manner similar to their southern counterparts. This participation will be underpinned by a growing asset base and the framework of “He Tangata, He Whenua, He Oranga – An Economic Growth Strategy for the Taitokerau Maori Economy”. The desired outcome of which would be Maori gaining a greater share of employment in more skilled and productive industries.
Not so long ago BERL estimated that the Maori asset base totals almost $40 billion nationally. Based on their modelling if the level of productivity in the Maori economy is lifted to equal the national level by 2061, the GDP contribution from the Maori economy could be $12.1 billion higher than it otherwise would be and there could be 148,000 more job opportunities.
The success of our regional economy is strongly related to the success of Northland’s Maori economy. Lifting the performance of Maori business benefits all our communities. Improved capability will grow capital and investment through higher income, greater savings and increased financial literacy. The Maori population is young and expected to grow significantly over the next decade. Their proportion of Northland’s workforce will continue to grow in the future and this workforce in a position to influence and contribute to our economic future.
In an ideal future, this economic growth would be sustainable, it would create a balance between people and assets. It would develop businesses and participation in the economy. Why, because the ability to participate in the economic conversation, to enable Far North families to generate wealth and build capability; provides individuals the ability to choose their future. More importantly it can help create an environment where it is normal to be Maori, healthy, prosperous, educated and connected.