FOMA seeks indigenous business ties in Pacific

By Talisa Kupenga , Te Ao Māori News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced $6.5mil of funding to help women and young people build businesses in Samoa while on her Pacific mission.  This comes as the Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA) looks to build business opportunities and relationships with our Pacific neighbours as part of the delegation trip this week.

FOMA Chairwoman Traci Houpapa is looking to expand indigenous economic opportunities in the Pacific.

"We have built relationships with indigenous Australia.  We think the other side of that triangle is our Pasifika nations, our brothers and sisters here, and so this mission for us is very much about looking at opportunities to share information, business models and commercial joint ventures."

Today the PM announced $6.5mil of funding to further develop Samoa's economy.

Ardern says, “What we'd hope is that things like supporting the establishment of small and medium micro-sized enterprises will also contribute to Samoa's tourism industry and eco-system.”

Houpapa says, “We have just visited a business that is looking at pharmaceuticals utilising coconut citronella.  Working with 700 coconut farmers across Samoa and bringing them together in a commercial opportunity that welds together cultural well-being and wealth for the families in those areas and in those industries.  It's an exciting time."

But, with China's still prevalent influence having provided Samoa lower rate loans for infrastructure, the Pacific is a contestable strategic space.

Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi says, “We are only interested in what was promised to us and we are following up with connection to our own development."

Houpapa says, "We recognise in our Pasifika nations that external foreign direct investment is critical to the overall infrastructure and development for those nations.

"For us a cautionary note would be to ensure that First Nations indigenous people, mana whenua, are at the table in terms of setting that economic platform, the return profile and investment and responsibility.”

New Zealand will also work closely with the Samoan Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour to boost export opportunities for smaller and emerging exporters.

The island also received $3million extra funding for Gita relief.