A hui held in Kerikeri today focuses on how Māori can influence Aotearoa’s current and future free trade negotiations with nations from around the world.

“The hui is convened by Te Taumata to present back to our own Māori people what is happening in trade and especially in international trade and free trade negotiations,” said chairperson of Te Taumata Chris Karamea Insley (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Te Whakatōhea).

The hui is the fourth in a series being held around the country seeking to engage Māori leaders from various organisations that stand to benefit from having input into how New Zealand negotiates its free trade partnerships. Te Taumata, which convened the hui, was formed following a series of hui that sought to gather data on if Māori felt their interests were being listened to in terms of New Zealand’s free trade negotiations.

“With the Māori economy being estimated to be worth a shade under $80 billion, our people were saying we should have a voice but felt as if we didn’t, in terms of free trade negotiations… We told the Minister we would do it differently. We would convene the hui and bring the Ministers, trade negotiators, and other leading trade thinkers back to our people and have face-to-face discussions on trade issues,” said Insley.

The programme begins with a welcome, followed by a presentation from Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Nanaia Mahuta. This will be followed by a series of leaders tasked with negotiating Aotearoa’s free trade agreements. South African High Commissioner Vuyiswa Tulelo will speak about the potential for trade between indigenous South Africans and Māori.

Insley said he is most excited about hearing Dr Richard Meade and Peter Rice unveil their findings on what a new free trade agreement with Britain should include in respect of Māori interests.

One speaker is director of Making Everything Happen Kaye-Maree Dunn, who has been a key figure in helping to take the Māori economy in Northland to the next level over recent years.

“There’s a huge demand for Māori products, experiences, and services and we’ve seen an explosion of online entrepreneurs… When we look at trade, we look at how we can expand those goods and services to reach our indigenous relations around the world,” said Dunn.

As an owner of organisations focussed on empowering Māori businesses, Dunn said Covid-19 has greatly impacted on the way business is done here. She stressed the importance of investing in e-commerce and digital marketing and said iwi are now looking at how they can effectively participate in international trade.

“E-commerce is more than just having a website. It’s about a whole system of presenting yourself, marketing yourself, and connecting with your audiences,” Dunn said.

Insley and Dunn said Māori have been trading internationally long before the arrival of the British and said that initiatives such as this were building on the legacies of those who pioneered Māori trade globally.

The hui will be from 7.30am to 4pm at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri. Admission is free and attendees can register at eventbrite.com or watch the live stream at facebook.com/2mekelivestream.

View the Northern Advocate article here.