The day started with a powerful introduction to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and its innovative whānau developments, setting the perfect scene for the impact Māori can make at home and on the world stage.
“The world wants to embrace Māori brands and work with Māori businesses – coming out of the pandemic, global consumers want to connect with brands that reflect their values,” says Joe Harawira, Managing Director of Wai Manuka.
Joe has recently returned from an Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono trade delegation to Singapore and Thailand – an experience that enabled him to gain invaluable offshore consumer insights, firsthand.
“That’s what makes Māori products special – when you weave your culture into your brand – that’s our point of difference.
“It is our creativity and innovation that sets us apart, but it can be difficult to look to the far horizon when you’re just trying to survive each day. The future is right in front of us – together we can make it happen.”
But critical to retaining and growing the innovation competitive edge will be ensuring future talent and capability.
Recently appointed Te Taumata director and self-described serial innovator, Naomi Manu, says the future success of the rapidly growing Māori economy depends on building capability.
“If we cannot attract young people into STEM, we will be bereft of innovation and talent, and there will be a massive opportunity cost for our country. As we seek to catapult forward, we have to consider these things.
“The Māori population is a structurally youthful population – we have to cultivate curious minds and grow Māori representation in the tech workforce, currently only 4% of that workforce, and only 2% of the science sector.
“Tech is our fastest growing export sector, but we need to rapidly build capability for this future that we cannot yet even imagine.”