29 Aug 2011

First Te Putea Whakatupu conference opens in Rotorua

10:19 pm on 29 August 2011

Maori business leaders of the future are meeting present-day captains of industry in Rotorua for a conference on the future of the Maori economy.

The two-day conference is organised by Te Putea Whakatupu Trust and is looking at the future of the Maori economy in key industries such as fisheries, dairy, tourism and property development.

A keynote speaker at the opening day on Monday was Chief Clarence Louis, a First Nation leader from Canada.

He told delegates that today's world required Maori to make their own money and have financial strength.

Chief Clarence Louie, who is from the Osoyoos Indian Band, says he does not believe in administering welfare programmes but rather in creating jobs to make money.

He quoted a former National chief of the First Nations people in Canada as saying "it's the economic horse that pulls the social cart."

Over the last century, he says, the majority of money First Nation people have received from the Canadian government has gone towards indigenous social programmes rather than economic development and yet, a hundred years on,.they had the highest incarceration rates, the worst health problems, the highest unemployment, the most dropouts and the most social disfunctions.

"I'm telling government this formula doesnt work. We neerd to be spending our time and money on economic development."

Te Putea Whakatupu Trust was set up in 2009 with Maori Fisheries money to lift the standards in Maori business capability and this is the first conference it has held to discuss the direction of the Maori economy.

Coinciding with the conference, the Trust has awarded its first scholarships to 30 students nearing the end of their bachelor degrees in business and management.

Trust chair, Richard Jefferies says that, for a long time, Maori participation and achievement in business qualifications has been very low but with Maori assets now worth $30 million, it is essential the next generation is equipped to manage them.

"If we are going to match Maori capabibility with the asset base and the potential expansion and involvement in key industries, then certainly we need to be supporting more of our young people to come through with those kind of qualifications," he says.