10 Jul 2013

Latin American indigenous people look to Maori

6:07 am on 10 July 2013

Political leaders in central and south America are looking to Maori as a way to enhance their own traditional communities.

Federation of Maori Authorities' chair Traci Houpapa visited a number of countries in Latin America earlier this year with the prime minister.

She was asked by leaders there why Maori have become so economically and strategically sophisticated, and how they can empower their first nations peoples.

Ms Houpapa told them that although Maori leaders have played a major part in advancing their people, Pakeha have also been instrumental by highlighting Maori potential both economically and socially.

Ms Houpapa says first nations leaders in Latin America need their governments to help them to advance.

She says their states need to recognise the benefits of growing, building and increasing the performance and productivity of indigenous communities' assets and interests.

Staff from New Zealand Maori Tourism are expected to visit Chile in November to give the government in Santiago ideas on how to boost its indigenous tourism sector with the Mapuche people.