Iwi leaders are urging residents to tautoko struggling businesses as they recover from the effects of Covid-19.

The Māori unemployment rate is currently double the national average and there are fears it could also be double at any peaks.

In Rotorua, a Facebook group, Tautoko, has been set up encouraging people to support Māori-owned businesses and enterprises after Covid-19.

Ngāi Te Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley is encouraging people to do the same in Tauranga.

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"A lot of iwi are coming together at the moment with various Facebook pages and websites.

"What we have to do is move away from reliance on other countries. We do things really well locally ... There's some great stuff we're producing as individuals. Supporting local has got to be a good thing."

Stanley said the push to spend and support local was getting stronger.

Ngāi Te Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley. Photo / File
Ngāi Te Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley. Photo / File

"We're starting to fully appreciate what we have here. We're understanding how we could spend a bit more for something and support our local community and it's probably better made," he says.

"We've committed to that. Let's look after our people, all of our people, and celebrate our uniqueness."

To encourage people to support Māori-owned businesses and enterprises post Covid-19, Ngāi Te Rangi has been pointing people in the direction of these businesses using its Facebook page.

It has been celebrating mums in the lead-up to Mothers' Day and putting together a giveaway using local businesses' products.

Among them is Arohanoa Artistry run by Arohanoa Mathews.

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She sells earrings and other jewellery as well as clothing based around the mana wāhine and mana tāne concepts. She also runs art and hauora workshops and all that had to stop at alert level 4.

Mathews said it was important to support "home-grown, grassroots organisations".

"We're passionate about our craft and have a kaupapa behind what we do and why we do it. There's meaning behind our products.

"Most of the time, for our small Māori businesses it's personal," she says.

"We always try to put in more effort and are usually solo. We're making, doing admin, posting orders, promoting and marketing. A lot goes into a small business."

Mathews said small businesses were grateful for the support as the country moved alert levels.

"We do it because we love it, we're passionate and want to give back to our people."

In Rotorua, the Tautoko Facebook page was started by Rawiri Bhana when he saw how Covid-19 had affected friends and family.

Since the group started, more than 150 businesses have come on board and it's growing.

Similar groups have been set up in other areas including Te Tai Tokerau and Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.

Bhana said he had been approached by people in Tauranga about setting up a page for the area and he expected one to be in place shortly.


Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website