Tēnā koutou katoa.

I was prompted recently to comment on the issue of equity for Māori, particularly as it relates to accessing opportunities and resources.

In the mid-1990s, I managed the Asset Management Policy Branch for Te Puni Kokiri in Wellington.

The role of this unit was to provide lead policy advice to Government on economic development issues for Māori.


It was clear at the time that if Māori were to participate effectively in the economy, they needed additional support to create an equitable position in the marketplace.

A policy paper under the heading "pre-commercial facilitation" and championed by the then Minister for Māori Development Tau Henare, was submitted to the cabinet which, at that time, was headed by Prime Minister Jim Bolger.

Treasury did not support the paper, citing Government interference with market forces. Tau was at his best and slammed Treasury on its position and the case was won.

The term pre-commercial facilitation became a common catch-cry and a rallying point to raise Māori capacity and to equalise Māori opportunity in the marketplace.

That was more than 20 years ago so has the situation improved? Have we closed the equity gap?

In the economic development space, there has been an improvement and the playing field has started to level.

Māori business is now seen as essential to our national economy.

This is probably due more to Treaty settlements than the pre-commercial facilitation policy but if nothing else, the policy did raise awareness.


Has this awareness and improvement in equity spread across other sectors of Māori society?

The social deprivation statistics would suggest not.

I would argue at the core of this is inequity – the inability of Māori to access a fair share of resources and the inability of the system to respond effectively to this disparity.

Perhaps a "pre-commercial" type facilitation is required – supporting Māori to build capacity to participate fairly in the social marketplace.

Take housing for example. How many of our people have the capacity to rent homes let alone own them? When Kiwibuild gets into full production how are these houses going to be allocated both for rental and purchase?

Our people will need to be camera ready with the capacity to engage and to be at the front of the queue.

As it stands they are likely to be at the back and this is just one example of many where inequity is an issue and the consequential capacity to engage in opportunities and access to resources is limited.

Te Taru is a director for the new iwi-led tourism venture Kahukiwi Experiences, announced in Saturday's Rotorua Daily Post.
Te Taru is from Te Arawa, Tainui and Ngāti Porou descent and is the chairman of Te Tatau o Te Arawa, Rotorua Lakes Council partnership. His website is http://tetaruwhite.com