BDO’s 2019 Māori Business Report: The key takeaways

BDO’s 2019 Māori Business Report takes a holistic approach to the Māori economy. Rather than focussing solely on the state of Iwi entities in the post-settlement era, we look at the broad spectrum including Hapū based entities and the individual in business. Here, we’ll draw out some of the report’s most important takeaways to demonstrate the priorities of modern Māori businesses, as well as some of their key opportunities and challenges.


Māori businesses in 2019: The priorities

First and foremost, Māori businesses emphasise the importance of culture, society and the environment. However, while these aims come before profit, the latter is still a crucial secondary consideration. As a result, organisations must strike a careful balance between long-term planning and short-term financial goals.

Culture, cultural pride and cultural wellbeing

These three connected ideas underpinned our respondents’ approaches to many of the opportunities and risks facing their entities. Most noticeably, this was borne out by the fact that the top foci for Māori entities in the next five years were alive and thriving marae, and a reconnection between people. Other important aspects of this aim included increasing the numbers of te reo speakers, and celebrating diversity by making workplaces free from discrimination.

‘Happy and well’ whānau

Specific societal goals comprised the numbers of people going into tertiary education, whānau employment and home ownership. As we’ll see below, Māori businesses are taking a number of  steps to further these initiatives.

Environmental sustainability

Over 85% of our respondents named sustainability as one of their core ongoing strategic objectives. Among the measures Māori entities are taking to realise these aims are:

  • Encouraging good practices such as turning off lights and unused equipment.
  • Promoting recycling.
  • Factoring the environment into investment decisions.

As consumers and regulators alike shine an increasingly bright spotlight on green issues, this is an area where Māori businesses can take a leadership role at a national level.


In order to deliver on these goals, profit is important to Māori entities. Therefore, they need to make wise investment choices for now and the future. 


Māori businesses in 2019: The opportunities

There are many strengths within the sector that provide solid foundations for businesses to meet their strategic priorities and lift themselves to new heights.
First and foremost, the fact that the vast majority of Māori entities already have strategic plans in place was heartening to see. Such documents are integral to long-term success. The willingness for collaboration within the sector is another positive. Over 90% of respondents said they’d be open to working together for the collective benefit of the sector.


Māori businesses in 2019: The challenges

Māori business face three fundamental challenges to both their short and long term objectives:

1. People

The unique priorities and approaches of Māori businesses can make it difficult to recruit personnel who possess both the necessary skills and share in the company’s overarching vision. However, a number of solutions to this issue already exist - including Iwi mentoring, government funded education and improving recruitment strategies.

In addition, the sector’s emphasis on inclusivity can be leveraged effectively among the next generation of socially conscious employees to attract top talent.

2. Funding

While there are a broad range of funding options open to Māori entities, the process of securing investment can be convoluted. Many businesses reported dropping out mid-application as the process becomes too time consuming,

Improving brand story-telling, and looking to external bodies for support are two ways that Māori organisations can improve their chances of receiving funding.

3. Access to capital

Linked to funding, access to capital is a challenge in its own right. Going forward, it’s key that Māori businesses have experienced advisors who can manage cash flow to ensure capital growth decision making.

This is just a brief snapshot of the insights included in BDO’s 2019 Māori Business Report. For a deeper examination of the sector, and the direction it’s currently headed, download the full asset today

Download BDO's Maori Business Survey Report 2019