Off-shore investments could see Māori businesses expanding internationally

By Regan Paranihi

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) hosted the Te Kōmaru event saw nine Māori businesses across the country come head to head with offshore investors in the hope that their small homegrown venture can expand into the international waters.

This was the first of its kind and an opportunity these entrepreneurs say can open many more doors for Māori communities. 

This is also the future of the Māori business world.

NZTE Investment General Manager, Dylan Lawrence (Ngāti Raukawa-ki-te-Tonga, Ngāti Toa Rangatira) says, "The world wants what Māori have in terms of our story, story of heritage, story of culture, story of provenance and also values, all those things resonate out there on the world stage and we're seeing culture starting to lead commerce and Māori are definitely at the forefront of that."

It's an investment into a sustainable future for many of these entrepreneurs.

"We find that strong investment not only brings good money and helps these companies grow but it brings the skills and technical capabilities and networks that these companies need on an international growth journey," says Lawrence.

Kanapu Hemp Foods Limited CEO, Isaac Beach (Te Whānau a Ruataupare ki Tuparoa, Ngāti Porou), adds "We're contributing heavily to our GDP already and for investors to be provided with opportunities to come to the table and put some effort in behind those businesses I think is a great opportunity for any investor."

Te Kōmaru is also an initiative that can ultimately create more regional opportunities for Māori communities.

"Our big kaupapa is about creating jobs and we know that tourism has the potential to really do that," says Te Ara Armstrong (Te Taitokerau) CEO of Stay Native.

"There is only so much growth you can get in New Zealand you need to grow internationally to be really sort of learning into it and that will mean more employment for the people."

Māori businesses are renowned for their own uniqueness and it makes them stand out from the rest of the world.

Beach says, "There's only one place in the world where you can whakapapa back to be Māori and that's here in Aotearoa New Zealand we're small but we pack a punch on an international stage."

"We need as much support as we can to actually get these businesses off the ground and show our Māori people that there are avenues for success," adds Armstrong.

Opportunities like this make the hard work of creating these businesses worth it for these Māori business owners.

Armstrong says, "Being able to see that there's actually a global potential to build something that's worth hundreds of millions of dollars and mentors from NZT have helped us to realise that that's actually achievable."

All nine companies received a fair amount of interest and investors will work with them to close in on potential deals.