National | Asia

Opportunities offshore imperative for Māori companies to thrive

Māori companies are being advised to export products because of the economic impact of Covid-19.

Te Taurapa Tūhono, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) commissioner Kiwa Whatarau says the economic future for companies "lies beyond our borders."

“We can’t simply trade among our five million people, so looking at all of those opportunities offshore is the imperative for us."

Whatarau, of Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Tamaterā descent, is based in Hong Kong.

“We know it’s a very, very difficult and hard, long game and to our Māori exporters, I’d say 'Kia kaha'. We’re here at Te Taura Tūhono to support you and make sure you’re well equipped for your internationalisation journey through good advice and also finding those in-market connections.”

Te Taurapa Tūhono NZTE has a Māori group established to support and assist Māori companies in their internationalisation journey.

Safe foods

“We have 270 of these Māori businesses, large and small, that export their goods and services to all corners of the world.”

He says Māori companies could capitalise on the New Zealand Covid-19-free reputation to promote the goods being sent there.

“Being extremely safe is quite pertinent in the times of Covid-19. People are looking for safe foods to consume, foods that have potential health benefits for them and that will keep them healthy and fit and I think those New Zealand producers are seeing some benefit as a result of Covid-19.”

He says a company like The True Honey C, which has extremely high-grade Mānuka Honey is an example.

“UMF plus 37 is its highest-grade honey, which, in a small bottle of 250 grams or 230 grams, is selling for over $2500 New Zealand dollars in Harrods in England at the moment. So that’s a little bit of a testament to the demand and the high quality of food and beverage products that we can produce.”

He says compared to mainstream companies, Māori companies have been resilient during the Covid-19 period.

“Some have had to undergo job cuts as a result of Covid-19. However, others have been able to hibernate for a period until they’re able to come back online. Others have been able to shift to different markets, let’s say from the United States to a domestic focus.”

Companies who previously provided fresh food have changed to frozen products because of the restrictions on freight. Companies selling their products online and not needing to travel overseas have also benefited, he says.