In 2011, the Ministers for Economic Development and Māori Affairs established an independent Māori Economic Development Panel, tasked with developing a Māori Economic Strategy and Action Plan. He kai kei aku ringa, literally meaning providing the food you need with your own hands, the Māori Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan was released in 2012. The Government decided to rejuvenate this strategy in 2017 and a refreshed strategy was launched in Rotorua on 16 June 2017.
The refreshed strategy identified five areas of focus, namely;
- employment, grow the future Māori workforce, meaning more Māori moving into employment, and moving into higher wage, higher skilled jobs
- education, upskilling the Māori workforce and strengthening the transition from education to work
- enterprise, goals are to grow Māori SMEs (small to medium enterprises) and also maximise the economic value of iwi and collectives
- rangatahi, support Māori youth to define and lead their economic aspirations.
- regions, regional development and ensuring Iwi and Māori actively participate in the Regional Growth Programme, according to their aspirations, and that the 25% of the Māori population living in Auckland can fulfil their potential
The strategy set out some ambitious targets. By 2021 the aims are to increase Maori median income by 20 per cent, reduce Maori unemployment to 7.5 per cent, increase the number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by 30 per cent, increase Maori exports by 9 per cent per annum and improve NCEA Level 2 and NZQ Level 4 attainment by Maori.
To be able to lift median income by 20 percent will take a significant shift in the thinking and support services provided by government, as well as the role that Maori and iwi will play in these ambitious goals.
If the Government is serious about growing income, it will need to think outside the box to deliver some exponential step change for Māori in especially the education system, employment and SME development. These are very ambitious targets and we will watch the progress with interest.
For further information on the refresh please visit the website at www.erere.maori.nz