Covid has exacerbated hardship for Māori whose businesses were growing but remain under-represented in our economy, Westpac NZ says.
Simon Power, acting bank chief executive, today released findings of a report by BERL and OpinioNative which examined the disparity and Covid's effects.
Tomorrow, Westpac will host an APEC 2021 virtual event where the topic would be discussed, Power said.
How governments and big businesses worked with indigenous communities to ensure more equal growth was a key point up for discussion, Power said.
The report said Māori have always been disproportionately hit by economic shocks compared to non-Māori.
Covid made that harder.
"Māori employment numbers are high in manufacturing, construction, retail trade, and accommodation and food services, which are industries that felt the initial impact of Covid-19 hard," the report said.
The pandemic has also hurt businesses.
"Many iwi were forced to make tough decisions. Ngāi Tahu were forced to close 10 of their 11 tourism businesses, while Waikato-Tainui suffered an estimated $11m in losses. This is only capturing two notable results stemming from all the challenges Covid-19 brought," the report said.
"However, it was the impact on whānau that hurt iwi the most. Covid-19 placed significant pressure on whānau, with some losing their job, while others were unable to see their whole family for prolonged periods."
Power said Māori were over-represented in low-skilled jobs, yielding an annual income gap of $2.6b between tangata whenua and Pākehā in this country.
"We're already working to connect with more Māori and diverse businesses, partnering with iwi on shared equity schemes," he said, particularly in housing.
In June the bank signed a social loan with Aotearoa's largest tertiary education provider, Te Pūkenga. That $125m loan will be put towards structural changes, including job training.
"The Māori population is young and it's growing fast. Between 2013 and 2018, the Māori labour force grew by 40 per cent, compared to 8 per cent for non-Māori, and that growth is set to continue," Power said.
"Our rangatahi are our future. Providing them with the skills and support they need to thrive in the workforce is the first step to clearing those barriers that have traditionally held Māori back."
Fonteyn Moses-Te Kani, Westpac NZ head of Māori, inclusion and diversity, said it was urgent to help Māori small and medium-sized businesses get money.
"We're working with our iwi and Māori partners including Waikato-Tainui, Te Whāriki o Aotearoa Trust, Māori Women's Development Inc, Poutama Trust and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu," she said.
The report includes examples of indigenous businesses leading the way by staying true to their values of relationship-building, shared responsibility and respect for others and the environment. Helping more of these businesses to succeed will have positive benefits for all of Aotearoa, she said.
The report said it was imperative that Māori businesses grow to contribute to the wealth and wellbeing of their whānau and the wider community.
"Fostering this growth starts with providing an enabling environment for young Māori. They are the future of business and the future of New Zealand. Increasing the necessary support and resources available to young Māori should be a focus point," the report said.
In January, the Herald reported 100,000 more Māori are in the workforce now than eight years ago.
A report from BERL with Te Pūtea Matua the Reserve Bank found Māori increasingly involved in business activities, have a diverse asset base and a growing workforce with more skills.
The Māori economy has been put at $68.7b, up on the previously estimated $42.6b.
Traci Houpapa, Federation of Māori Authorities chairperson, said: "Māori are a young population and growing fast. There are over 100,000 more Māori in the workforce today than there were eight years ago. We are a significant part of the current and future workforce of Aotearoa."