Watershed moment for iwi/Maori

Equity?

Each year for decades in New Zealand, the Government has invested up to $NZ700 million into the country’s Science and Innovation system made up of Universities and government owned research institutes (CRI’s). So billions of dollars have been invested over time.

The question of equity has to be asked when a Government study released in June 2011 that measured the Maori economy at approximately $NZ37 billion concentrated in the primary sector and that this Maori economy was growing at a faster rate than the national GDP economy.

The study however went on to add that the Maori economy was not performing to its fullest potential where for example Maori farms did not have the same level of productivity as their non-Maori counterparts and, that the solution to this dilemma lay in the New Zealand Science and Innovation system. The question of equity in terms of access to the New Zealand Science and Innovation system has to be asked. Why are maori assets not performing in terms of productivity relative to non-Maori assets.

Water shed moment in the Waiapu valley

On Saturday leading scientists from four of New Zealand’s CRI’s were invited to Hinepare marae in the Waiapu valley not to lecture to Maori landowners on what they think is in the best interests of Waiapu landowners, but instead to sit and listen to the interests and perspectives of the Waiapu landowners, i.e. what they saw as their issues and indeed their objectives in terms of new added-value land development opportunities.

Mark Iles at Hinepare marae in the Waiapu valley on the East coast.

Landowners represent a number of very clear development options to the meeting and particularly to the listening researchers from the CRI’s. Manuka honey and nutraceuticals are but one of the possible land development options tabled by the landowners.

New Zealand Nutraceutical supply chain

What happens now?

This meeting is a watershed moment and stands set to redefine how Maori will define and set the science, innovation and technology agenda and search across the science system for the critical capabilities needed to identify the critical issues and engage the specialist capabilities to assist in building up the evidence and fact based business cases to exploit the new commercial opportunities and in doing so realize the full potential of the $NZ37 billion Maori economy.

We are playing a leading role in defining new models and frameworks to connect the capabilities of the New Zealand Science and Innovation system with the goals and objectives of Maori organizations.

What do you think?

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