The chair of Te Putea Whakatupu Trust, Richard Jeffries, has called for a greater focus on business and economic development among Maori, rather than relying on welfare.
The Trust has held its first-ever conference on the future of the Maori economy in Rotorua.
One of the keynote speakers, Chief Clarence Louie - who is a first nation leader from Canada - told the conference he doesn't believe in administering welfare programmes.
Instead, tribes should be creating jobs to make money.
Richard Jeffries agrees that economic development is the way to improve social needs .
"While we can't necessarily let up on social and health activities we need a new focus because it is going to be those economic development strategies that really enhance long-term social development amongst our people as well."