The high level story for the 2016 Top 200 Index is one of consolidation -- and mightily effective consolidation at that.

All indicators showed an improvement on their 2015 figures aside from revenue, with profit after tax up an impressive 18.8 per cent. Among those doing the heavy lifting are notable Kiwi companies such as The Warehouse Group, Air New Zealand, and Z Energy.

While total revenues fell by 0.7 per cent compared with the 2015 figure, underlying earnings (EBITDA) rose by 11.1 per cent. This indicates that Top 200 companies have achieved a far greater reduction in costs than the fall in revenue.

The trend of doing more with less is reflected when one digs deeper too. Cumulative return on equity ticked up to 20.88 per cent this year, from 19.38 per cent in 2015.

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At the high end of the Top 200, the revenue gap between Fonterra and the rest closed somewhat, as New Zealand's dairy co-operative saw an 8.7 per cent drop in revenue.

However, after-tax profits rallied, increasing 64.8 per cent for Fonterra (a reflection of a move towards higher-value products) and 68.9 per cent for Fletcher Building (ranked second in terms of revenues and third in terms of after-tax profit).

The opposite is true for Woolworths New Zealand Group, who increased revenue by 6.6 per cent but saw after-tax profit fall 204.6 per cent, into negative territory (posting a loss of almost $190 million).

Xero, after debuting on the Top 200 last year, once again performed strongly in terms of revenue, with 60.1 per cent growth. As expected, the company once more posted a loss, as it continues to spend on sales to gain market share throughout the US in particular.

Silver Fern Farms' profit growth has been particularly impressive. An increase from $474,000 to $24.9 million saw them ranked second in terms of percentage increase in profit -- the result of a new value chain strategy that has improved returns.

A similar story of a company reaping the rewards of a highly strategic approach is that of the A2 Milk Company. They are a new entrant to the Top 200, ranking 97th in terms of overall revenue, and topped the list in terms of revenue growth.

Graphic / NZ Herald
Graphic / NZ Herald

One area where revenue certainly did increase was in the Government's tax take from the companies that comprise the Top 200.

Tax paid increased by 14 per cent, contributing to the much-vaunted Crown surplus increase announced in October.

The kumara is still sweet

Highlighting Maori success in the Deloitte Top 200We hope their leadership continues to inspire other Maori organisations to grow and make a difference. Leon WijohnLeon WijohnWe are pleased to present the third annual Deloitte Top 200 listing of the top Maori business entities.

At Deloitte we believe it is vitally important to celebrate business success in Aotearoa. This is still a challenge for New Zealanders, especially for Maori for whom the cultural norm is generally to refrain from talking about one's success. After all, as the proverb says, "Kaore te kumara e korero mo tona ake reka" (The kumara doesn't say how sweet it is).

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Nevertheless, by recognising the success of Maori organisations and their people through the Deloitte Top 200 we are highlighting positive role models at the top end of town. We note, however, that around two-thirds of the Maori asset base of over $40 billion is in small to medium enterprises (SME) and privately owned businesses. The success of these SME entities is covered by our Deloitte Fast 50 programme, where we are starting to see Maori businesses, like Auckland-based Whanau Tahi, showing impressive growth.

For our top 10, it is easiest to rank the Maori entities based on the reported book value of total assets. However, the commercial value of a lot of assets can be higher.

Graphic / NZ Herald
Graphic / NZ Herald

For example, I've seen presentations placing the commercial value of Tauhara North's assets at over $500m compared to the book value of $330m (note the $330m was last year's results as the current year's results were not publicly released when our numbers were finalised).

Generally, Maori organisations start with a high concentration of activity in the areas of property, agriculture, forestry and social services.

Those involved in property did well over the last year. Those involved in dairy had expected challenges. The strong balance sheets and low gearing in most Maori organisations puts them in a great position to ride out the market ups and downs as they move towards diversifying their asset and income bases.

By recognising the success of Maori organisations and their people through the Deloitte Top 200 we are highlighting positive role models at the top end of town.

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We appreciate that growing an asset base is not the most important metric to Maori organisations. How well they look after their people and others living in their rohe (region) is more important. This covers wellbeing in the areas of health, education, housing and improving the incomes of the people they serve.

EBITDA (earnings before interest expense, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) is one measure that shows how much funds are available each year to assist with social goals. Further benchmarking will be undertaken to compare assets and returns against total members.

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We use what we call a Maori Business SKOR to decide if an entity is included in our Top 200 listing. This scores a Maori business against a number of measures including stakeholder make up, kaupapa, ownership and the purpose of returns and results.

We congratulate the 10 largest Maori organisations on the 2016 Deloitte Top 200 Maori list. We hope their leadership continues to inspire other Maori organisations to grow and make a difference for their uri, Maori people and New Zealand as a whole.

- Leon Wijohn.