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Te Matapaeroa: Celebrating the Success of Māori Businesses in Aotearoa

Purpose, people and te taiao. When Māori businesses thrive, Aotearoa thrives.

This idea is a key takeaway from the Te Matapaeroa 2020 project, commissioned by Te Puni Kōkiri and proudly developed by Nicholson Consulting. As the ministry for Māori development, Te Puni Kōkiri is the government’s principal policy advisor on Māori wellbeing and development. Te Matapaeroa 2020 is part of an ongoing research piece focusing on Māori economic resilience and Māori businesses in Aotearoa, which is one of the strategic priority areas for Te Puni Kōkiri.

Using data, storytelling and real case studies, Te Matapaeroa 2020 paints a picture of the triumphs and challenges within the landscape of Māori enterprise. This picture is captured across the three outputs which form Te Matapaeroa 2020. Each of these outputs caters to different audiences and levels of technical understanding. These outputs are:

  1. The Technical Report - Created with data scientists or economists in mind, this report is designed to provide a technical summary of the analysis undertaken for this project.

  2. The Interactive Dashboard - Built by Te Puni Kōkiri with support from Nicholson Consulting, this dashboard was created to allow people to explore the data in more depth and discover stories and insights within the data which are relevant to them.

  3. The Narrative Report - This report weaves together data and real-life case studies to tell the story of Māori enterprise in Aotearoa. This report is designed to provide an engaging high-level overview of the Te Matapaeroa 2020 project geared towards a general audience.

Te Matapaeroa 2020 is a celebration of Māori business excellence. This work aims to improve understanding of how to better support Māori businesses as they continue to grow, thrive, and champion a Māori vision of success.

And what is this vision of success?

Self-determination, whānau wellbeing, the environment, and opportunities for future generations are facets of this vision that have been highlighted in this report.

Māori owned businesses are delivering on this vision. Te Matapaeroa 2020 spotlights several areas where Māori businesses are excelling. These include:

  • Māori owned businesses are more likely to have at least one Wāhine as an owner*. 61% of Māori owned businesses have at least one Wāhine of any ethnicity as an owner (compared to 53% of non-Māori owned businesses)

  • Additionally, businesses with Wāhine Māori owners employ a higher percentage of Māori employees than other businesses. In businesses with Wāhine Māori owners, Māori make up 43% of the workforce. By contrast, in Māori owned businesses (without Wāhine Māori owners) 38% of employees are Māori and in non-Māori owned businesses 14% of employees are Māori.

*Ownership here refers to active shareholders who are paid salaries or wages

  • Māori businesses are growing. From 2010 to 2020, the total indicative margin of Māori-owned businesses increased from $3.7 billion to $7.3 billion - an increase of nearly 100%.

  • Significant employers of Māori* are creating opportunities for regional communities. Tairāwhiti has the highest proportion of businesses that qualify as significant employers of Māori in Aotearoa at 26.6%, followed by regional areas Te Tai Tokerau and Bay of Plenty at 15.5% and 11.8% respectively. More job opportunities in the regions enable more Māori to stay closer to their tūrangawaewae.

*Significant employers of Māori are those who employ at least 75% Māori

However, alongside these successes are also challenges. In 2020, Māori owned businesses earned roughly two thirds of the average indicative margin* earned by non-Māori owned businesses. Māori businesses in Nelson, Auckland and Tasman experiencing substantially smaller average indicative margins compared to non-Māori owned businesses in the same region. There have also been lower rates of uptake of the Covid-19 wage subsidy amongst significant employers of Māori. This could have long-term consequences for employees and whānau as they potentially miss out on vital income and support.

*Indicative margin relates to the total sales income less purchases and expenses. It’s important to note this calculation does not include wages and salaries paid.

Addressing these challenges and identifying opportunities for growth will help to ensure a future where whānau and communities continue to thrive culturally, spiritually, and economically.

Te Matapaeroa 2020 demonstrates the value of investing in the growth of Māori business. More successful Māori-owned businesses mean more job opportunities for Māori. Greater Māori representation across different business sectors means Māori are better able to advocate for the social, cultural and environmental interests of whānau and communities.

We believe that Te Matapaeroa 2020 will be a powerful tool for policy makers, decision makers and Māori business networks as they find ways to support Māori businesses to thrive. Data from this project will help inform future policy work, which can lead towards strengthening the Māori economy, lifting employment, and improving wellbeing and equity outcomes for whānau. Our hope is that this research will spark more conversations, exploration, and ideas around how we can best support Māori-owned-businesses to thrive.

Nicholson Consulting is proud to use our data and storytelling skills to share and celebrate the many success stories of Māori businesses in Aotearoa. Moving forward, Nicholson Consulting looks forward to being involved in more projects like Te Matapaeroa that align with our vision and values.

We would like to thank Te Puni Kōkiri for commissioning this project. If you would like to check out the project for yourself, you can do so here.

If you would like to learn more about the approach Nicholson Consulting took to develop the technical report or the narrative get in touch by emailing


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