Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu awarded Māori Business of the Year 2012

Social enterprises involving Ngāi Tahu, including the innovative Māori Trades Training Scheme, He Toki ki te Rika and the Ngāi Tahu Pounamu Authentication Scheme, have resulted in the iwi being recognised as the 2012 Māori Business of the Year, at the Aotearoa New Zealand Māori Business Leaders Awards.

“We are very honoured and humbled to receive this award,” said Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu CEO, Arihia Bennett at the awards ceremony in Auckland in early May.

“There are many different ways to measure the success of an enterprise but for us, the success has to be about people, the advancement of people and communities. We simply would not be here today accepting this award, if it wasn’t for our partners in enterprise – partners like Te Tapuae o Rehua, which has been a key partner in resurrecting the Māori apprenticeship scheme He Toki ki te Rika. So this as much a recognition for them as it is for us.”

Awards organiser, Dr Manuka Henare from the University of Auckland Business School’s Mira Szaszy Research Centre for Māori and Pacific economic development, says Ngāi Tahu activities in New Zealand enhance the quality of life of Māori, Pacific and other indigenous peoples and are “a strong example of strong social accountability.”

“Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has been a driving force behind many social enterprises, but none as important as helping the people of Christchurch in the past few years,” Dr Henare says.

“He Toki ki te Rika is an example of a unique trade training programme that is an iwi-led partnership between Ngāi Tahu, the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology and Hawkins Construction, with help from government organisations. It was launched in 2011 following the Christchurch earthquakes and is focused on providing highly skilled Māori trade leaders to assist in the rebuild of Christchurch.

The scheme echoes the successful Māori trades training schemes of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and some of the graduates of these early programmes have been involved in the current initiative.

The trade trainee programme has engaged over 350 Māori in order to develop Māori trades people who are not only skilled in trades but also aware of the significance of ‘being Māori’ and holding true to Māori values.

“The opportunity and leadership of Ngāi Tahu provides both short and long-term benefits for individuals and for Christchurch, Canterbury and the country,” says Dr Henare.

The Ngāi Tahu Pounamu authentication scheme, which started two years ago, offers overseas tourists and New Zealanders peace of mind that what they’ve bought as a souvenir or gift is not made in China or carved from raw stone imported from overseas.

Significant quantities of pounamu products manufactured in New Zealand are made from raw stone imported from overseas, in particular, Canada, China and Siberia. Furthermore, many carved pieces sold in New Zealand are manufactured in China. Much of this product is sold under the impression that it is genuine New Zealand greenstone, or pounamu carved by New Zealand and indigenous Māori artisans.

To overcome this confusion, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has supported its Papatipu Rūnanga to develop an authentication scheme to certify products made from genuine New Zealand pounamu. This is to provide assurance to those purchasing pounamu products that they have obtained the authentic and genuine article. All Ngāi Tahu Authenticated Pounamu shows the Ngāi Tahu Pounamu registered trademark and a unique traceability code that, when entered online, identifies the origin and whakapapa of the stone, how it was extracted and processed, and who carved it.

The scheme has helped to create a rapidly growing business with decentralised management that benefits our Ngāi Tahu pounamu communities and their regions. Increased employment opportunities means greater wellbeing for whānau and others within these communities. The Aotearoa NZ Māori Business Leader Awards have been held by the Business School for nearly a decade.

Carpentry tutor Jim Keenan, Raniera Matiu and Larena Iti from He Toki ki te Rika.

Ngāi Tahu Pounamu – delivering the real thing.