business

07/27/2021 5:00 p.m.

Over 100 Māori business owners and professionals recently gathered in Whangārei to learn how to make better use of social media marketing. Photo / included

OPINION:

Here is a quote from a book I am reading now, the autobiography of former MP and famous Māori activist Donna Awatere Huata (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Porou), in which she outlines the policies of the Māori Affairs Department in the 1950s and 1960s Years ago commented:

“The purpose of the department (although not specifically mentioned) was to bring Māori to the cities as a source of cheap labor to develop the country’s secondary industries. It is a myth that Māori were drawn into the city by the lure of the bright lights. It was government policy to relocate them there. “

About six decades later I find myself in a room full of suits. Over 100 Māori business owners and corporate professionals meet at Semenoff Stadium in Whangārei to learn how to better use social media marketing. I think we weren’t all good at tedious tasks.

“The net worth of the Māori economy is around $ 68 billion, and it’s great that people in Tai Tokerau are involved,” said Te Tai Tokerau MP and Labor Party’s deputy Kelvin Davis (Ngāti Manu), like us stand outside in the stands.

The people gathered here were brought together by the Māori business network Whāriki and the social media giant Facebook. They represent only a fraction of the Māori economy. While the term “Māori economy” may be new, the concept is not.

Another thing Huata talks about early on in her book is that Māori were already established traders with international economic ties.

MP Kelvin Davis at the Whangārei event.  Photo / includedMP Kelvin Davis at the Whangārei event. Photo / included

Huata talks about how Tainui, at the time of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, had dozens of flour mills worth over £ 500 each and 1000 porter canoes exporting the product to Auckland: “Far from being a passive people that too Staying home, Māori were enterprising, energetic and eager to travel. My mother’s family brought an American from San Francisco, a trader. “

Despite years of repressive laws aimed at robbing the Māori of our language, culture, resources, and Taonga, we continue to pursue trade opportunities domestically and internationally. Something that has contributed to the rise of small Māori businesses is the continued proliferation of social media platforms and marketing opportunities within them.

“What we’re trying to tell people is, yes, there is a marketing side, there is a story-telling side [to social media marketing] but there are also many valuable commercial functions, ”says the chairman of Whāriki Heta Hudson (Ngāti Awa, Tūhoe, Whakatōhea, Ngāi Tai ki Torere).

“Today people are going to learn how to sell products directly through Instagram stores. A lot of these things avoid the expense of setting up a website, tracking return on investment, and so on.”

Traditionally, the biggest hurdle for a small business to reach its full potential has been the initial investment that was required to meet or scale overhead costs. With the advent of the internet and social media, businesses can now take full advantage of a storefront for free on social media platforms. Over three million of us here in Aotearoa use Facebook or Instagram every day and many small businesses cash in.

We have all seen it. From the small business owners in Facebook groups selling bakery or hāngī packs to mānuka products served to us through display ads, Māori businesses are profiting from the rise of social media.

With the continued diversification of the Māori economy and new investments in areas like geothermal and the digital sector, support from government policies, ongoing remedies, greater authority and self-reliance, and other indigenous business networks emerging on the global radar, the Māori economy is likely to have continue to prosper in times of economic uncertainty.

• Liam Rātana, Ngāti Kurī and Ngāti Wairupe, is a freelance writer and commentator