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.

That's one of the key findings in a new report by accounting and professional services firm BDO, following their Māori Business Survey, which canvassed more than 100 Māori business people across the country.

The resultant report looks at the broad spectrum of Māori businesses, including hapū-based entities and the individual in business.

Kylee Potae, head of Māori Business at BDO, says the survey feedback highlighted the multi-layered way that Māori think and act in business.


"They're not content with just pursuing a purely profit focus; they need other layers of purpose to drive them. These purposes include a focus on environmental factors and on people's wellbeing. This can be challenging to do and, in the past, the complexity of having multiple purposes has been seen as a barrier to success. However, I am so pleased to see that the next generation is embracing a multi-layered approach to business with well-rounded goals of making a difference socially, environmentally, culturally, and economically."

She notes that these priorities and approaches can make recruitment a challenge when Māori businesses are looking for people with the ability to think and act responsibly in social, environmental, cultural, and economic ways. She says the younger generation love and buy into the multi-layered philosophy, but they don't necessarily bring with them the experience and patience to implement what the older generation do, and vice versa.

"This is a generalisation as there are outliers to this, but recruiting a team that buys into the vision and can deliver on it requires a person with a wide scope of skills and attributes. And further, the people who can do this are a small pool who are in demand in the labour market. They have choices. In all likelihood, at some point in time they venture out on their own to create their own pathway forward."

Potae says the challenges are a New Zealand-wide issue, but the Government is continuing to find ways to address them.

"Various entities have been set up and there are those that were already in the market who strive to educate the willing.

"Iwi organisations are also playing a role by delivering a myriad of programmes, media communications, and activities — the list is long, creative and varied. You also have hapū-based groups providing scholarships to help with funding education for their whānau. So, it is fair to say much is being done and by many. The positive side to this is realising that what is being done is still not enough. The consumer market demands and thrives on purpose-driven kaupapa (principles), and that is a fantastic challenge for New Zealand's economy to have."

In a tight labour market, the ability of employees to think and act in line with the vision, values and purpose of the entity is the major skill set required, says Potae.

More specifically, there are skills shortages in accounting, finance, sales and marketing, critical thinking, te ao Māori (the Māori world view) and governance. People who are tech savvy, social media savvy and have strategic mindsets are also hard to find. "However, the various entities that have been set up are all working hard to provide practical solutions to unlock these challenges," says Potae.


Particular attributes and traits are needed by candidates to ensure the success of Māori businesses and Potae says that while the list is long, this reflects the entities' desires to achieve more than pure profits.

The respondents to BDO's survey said that when recruiting, they look for self-motivated people with experience who can communicate effectively. Candidates should have cultural awareness with an understanding of tikanga (Māori protocol) and mātauranga (Māori wisdom), have te reo Māori skills and be whānau orientated with a passion to improve whānau outcomes.

Māori businesses look for superstars who are critical thinkers with the ability to hustle, but also empathy, integrity, honesty and a sense of humour. Candidates will impress if they are creative, innovative thinkers who show commitment and leadership skills, including the ability to foster collaboration.

Potae says the sector's emphasis on inclusivity can be leveraged effectively among the new generation of socially-conscious employees to attract top talent.

"The key opportunity to leverage is through the younger generation's high use of social media to spread the word wide and far to reach top talent, both locally and globally. There are 2.41 billion active users of Facebook; it is the biggest social network worldwide. While you can't necessarily control the message, you can join the conversation, and influence it positively by bringing the entities' social, environmental, cultural, and economic message to the conversation."