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Conference to Boost Māori Business

Former Tauranga Māori Business Association chairperson Buddy Mikaere speaking during the 2012 Te Hekenga National Māori Business Networks Conference. Photo: Tauranga Māori Business Association.

Māori business leaders and representatives from across the country will head to Tauranga for a national hui focussing on learning and sharing next week.

The bi-annual Te Hekenga National Māori Business Networks Conference is at ASB Baypark from September 18-19.

Hosted by the Tauranga Māori Business Association it is the second hui the organisation has held since the conference’s rebirth in 2012.

TMBA chairperson Mike Minnell says its purpose is threefold: connecting Māori businesses, sharing knowledge and advice, and developing Māori small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

“The idea is to provide a forum to integrate regional networks and share what is working and what is not.
“It is also an opportunity to listen to success stories, plus receive advice about funding, marketing, creating an entrepreneurial culture, and making the most of networking opportunities.”

Twenty four speakers are lined up and presentations include the journey of Whale Watch NZ by Kauahi Ngapora, business prospects following the election by business commentator Mark Lister, and how Tauranga City Council will encourage Māori business by Tauranga City Mayor Stuart Crosby.

Mike says each speaker will gladly share “their war stories” in the hopes their past experiences will be of benefit to businesses starting out.

“Get registered, come down, listen and meet people. Iwi and big Māori business leaders will be there plus a lot of grassroots people,” says Mike.

Local Māori business Mana Taiao has been contracted to project manage the event and is headed by former TMBA chairperson Buddy Mikaere.

Buddy says the first hui was held in the mid-1990s and was brought back in 2012 by the TMBA to lift the profile of Māori business.

While Māori are well represented in both the top and bottom ends of the economy, there is a gap in the middle where most SMEs are.

The conference aims to build capacity in the SME area, which is where most NZ business is done anyway, says Buddy.

“There’s also bit of a disconnect at the moment between iwi aspirations compared to individual aspirations.
“It seems to me that the two are actually mutually supportive. Iwi are looking for projects they can invest in to create revenue streams to help achieve their social aspirations.

“I think there’s another way of doing it, why not empower the people inside the iwi to do that sort of thing?”

Registrations so far are steady and Buddy expects to hit their target of 120 attendees for the hui.

He feels this is a real opportunity for Māori SMEs, especially for people getting into business and “doing it for themselves”.

If you’re thinking of starting or have just started a new business this hui will be of huge benefit, says Buddy.
“Like all things, the best way to learn is to participate.

“This is a good way of building a network, by meeting people who might need your services or products, and vice versa.”

Te Hekenga National Māori Business Networks Conference is at ASB Baypark on September 18-19.

For more information, pricing or to register visit the website:

TMBA members are entitled to a $50 discount off the full price. Student rates are also available.

Source: Sunlive – The Bay’s First News​

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