Maori business leaders have been told to stop patting themselves on the back and roll their sleeves up as the recession bites.
Leaders from the private and government sectors, iwi, trusts and businesses gathered for a conference at Te Papa in Wellington on Friday.
The conference, hosted by The Hui Taumata Trust, is concerned about declining economic growth and rising unemployment because of the recession.
Maori leader Sir Tipene O'Regan opened the conference, saying Maori should stop congratulating themselves for how well they are doing and decide who and where they want to be in the future.
Trust member Sir Paul Reeves said assets belonging to Maori are valued at about $16 billion and steps must be taken to protect and grow these by finding smart ways of doing business in tough times.
Maori leaders also discussed the need for a greater emphasis on tourism and commercial involvement in technology development, and closer working relationships between iwi were needed.