Through the unprecedented challenges faced by Maori businesses, communities and whanau unfolding across Aotearoa, today economists are predicting unemployment will climb rapidly to 15 to 30 percent.

Te Taumata Chair Chris Karamea Insley says the world has never confronted a crisis like COVID-19 – one that has simultaneously tested the limits of public health systems and the ability for countries to work together on a shared challenge.

He welcomes the announcement by Trade & Export Growth Minister, Hon David Parker, on the undertaking by Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar in joining New Zealand and Singapore to help ensure citizens can access important goods and medical supplies during the Covid-19 crisis.

“Te Taumata is clear that alliances with New Zealand’s trading partners are fundamental to building resilience into Māori businesses that employ our whanau beyond the worldwide lockdown over the medium to long-term.”

Mr Insley agrees it is in our mutual interest to ensure trade lines remain open, including air and sea freight, to facilitate the flow of goods and essential supplies; the importance of refraining from the imposition of export controls or tariffs and non-tariff barriers; and of removing any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods – especially medical supplies – at this time.

The announcement went on to say the countries are committed to working with all like-minded countries to ensure that trade continues to flow unimpeded, and that critical infrastructure such as our air and seaports remain open to support the viability and integrity of supply chains globally.

“The trick and challenge will be to do the heavy lifting through the lockdown and position the economy and trade linkages to bounce back instantly post-lockdown,” says Mr Insley.

“To have a chance of prevailing, we need focused, determined, and effective leadership and genuine collaboration from our government, Maori business, and community leaders. Nothing in human history has so clearly demonstrated how the fate of everyone – all 7.7 billion of us – in our highly connected world is now linked.

“Te Taumata is strengthening our online communications to provide rapid and factual updates to our business leaders and whanau. We also aim to create new channels to gather and assimilate information on the needs of businesses who employ our whanau, and feed it to our New Zealand trade negotiators. This will minimise the impact of these massive job losses for our whanau and well-position our Maori businesses post-lockdown,” says Mr Insley.