A new internship programme has been launched to boost the science and innovation skills of young Maori leaders and grow the $37 billion Maori economy.

Three Maori university students will be based at the Crown Research Institute over summer in an initiative to develop science and technology expertise in Maori businesses.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Industrial Research Institute (IRL), Federation of Maori Authorities (FoMA), and University of Otago.

Working alongside the IRL's science and commercialisation teams, the students will gain exposure to key Government agencies involved in science and innovation, and economic development, said IRL general manager Gavin Mitchell.


"The programme's ultimate goal is to increase the number of Maori entities involved in the creating of wealth through innovation and R&D," he said.

After training in Wellington, the students will then head out to work in several of FoMA's member trusts and incorporations to experience the day-to-day running of a Maori enterprise, Mitchell said.

"The programme will help meet the increasing demand from Maori entities wanting to engage more in science and innovation to create wealth and greater well-being."

FoMA is the industry body of the Maori economic sector and represents about 150 authorities.

Its iwi and business members - owning enterprises in industries including seafood, forestry, dairy, horticulture and property - had identified science and innovation as an important part of their growth strategies, said chief executive TeHoripo Karaitiana.

Karaitiana said the programme would help to develop young Maori who were well positioned to support Maori business growth.

"With the growing Maori economy valued at $37 billion, the Federation of Maori Authorities is developing the next generation of leaders to manage our businesses and lead our organisations into the future.

"We see this as an enormous chance to make a significant contribution to our members, to the Maori economy and to New Zealand as a whole."

The Hikohiko Te Uira Maori Enterprise Internship pilot programme will run for 10 weeks over summer.