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Purpose and key points


Tatauranga Umanga Māori 2016: Statistics on Māori businesses presents information on two subsets of Māori businesses that contribute to our country’s economy – Māori authorities and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

It identifies the importance of Māori authorities to the economy through their strong and responsible financial management and investment approaches, and continued growth based on strong connections with the land and the sea.

The report also illustrates the vibrant entrepreneurial nature of Māori businesses. The statistics show the innovators who work in these small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are willing to take risks and break into new markets with new products. This information will be useful for readers interested in Māori business and economic development, such as Māori authorities, Māori entrepreneurs, and government agencies working with them. 

Summary of key points

Key points about Māori authorities

  • The asset base of Māori authorities continued to grow in 2014, up 15.5 percent from 2013 to reach $15 billion. Growth is most evident in current and other assets rather than in fixed assets.
  • Māori authorities continue to ease gradually away from concentration in their traditional land- and sea-based industries, or management of the rights to those, and into other industries.
  • Goods exported by Māori authorities were worth $485 million in 2015, down $41 million (7.8 percent) from 2014. Most of this fall was the result of reduced value of exports to China.
  • China remained the top export partner in 2015, receiving 41 percent of Māori authorities’ total exports by value.
  • Kaimoana (seafood) remained the top export commodity in 2015.
  • Māori authorities’ concerns include recruiting professionally and technically qualified employees, while matters such as government regulation or access to intellectual property as barriers to innovation are among the least of their concerns.

Key points about Māori SMEs

Data up to 2015 showed:

  • Māori SMEs maintained a diverse range of activities: no single industry dominated.
  • Māori SMEs had a relatively high innovation rate and worker turnover rate. They tended to be concerned with costs to develop or introduce innovation and lack of management resources such as time, and to a similar degree as Māori authorities, recruitment of professional or technical staff.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 Māori SMEs sold goods or services to overseas markets. Māori SMEs focusing on world markets emphasised a unique intellectual property or valuable brand as the key factor for competing.
  • Goods exported by Māori SMEs in 2015 went to 53 countries and were worth $44 million, up $6 million (15 percent) from 2014.  

Key points about Māori agriculture

Data up to 2015 showed:

  • Dairy cattle numbers appeared to be still trending up on Māori farms following success in assuring overseas markets for milk products.
  • Sheep numbers recovered a little after a period trending down.
  • Wine grapes appeared to be an expanding area of horticulture while kiwifruit growing appeared to be holding steady.

Key points about Māori tourism

  • Domestic guest nights hosted by Māori tourism businesses showed a gentle upward trend in the year to March 2016. Domestic guests are a steadier source for Māori tourism than international guests, with a relatively shallow off-peak.
  • International guest nights hosted by Māori tourism businesses recovered from a period of mild decline and grew to record numbers in the year to March 2016
  • Māori tourism businesses’ operating expenses exceeded sales of goods and services in the 2014 financial year.
  • Māori tourism businesses in 2014 appeared highly exposed to world markets, and identified their unique intellectual property or valuable brand to be the key factor for competing.


About Māori business statistics

We present Tatauranga Umanga Māori 2016: Statistics on Māori businesses as part of our commitment to ‘unleash’ the power of existing data for Māori. Our goal is to define and identify the role of Māori businesses within both the Māori and New Zealand economies, in order to promote informed decision-making according to Māori aspirations.

To achieve this goal, we intend to publish a more holistic set of statistics in future, to represent Māori economic, social, cultural, and environmental data.

Our conceptual definition of a Māori business in Tatauranga Umanga Māori 2016 is one that can be identified as in some way operating for the benefit of collective Māori wellbeing.

We applied different methods in order to identify such businesses. Our results gave us two sub-sets of Māori businesses – Māori authorities and Māori small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The methods that identified Māori authorities used:

tax data relating to Māori trusts and incorporations (ie businesses that identified themselves as a trust or incorporation by using the tax code MA or MT – although our definition of Māori authority differs from the definition in the Income Tax Act 2007)

Companies Office data to establish group ownership relationships.

See Appendix 1: Defining Māori authorities for Tatauranga Umanga Māori 2016 for our full definition of a Māori authority.

The methods that identified Māori small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved:

  • working in partnership with Poutama Trust, which sponsors Māori SMEs (see How we identified and measured Māori SMEs for more detail)
  • working in partnership with New Zealand Māori Tourism, whose knowledge of Māori tourism operators contributed greatly to chapter 5, Tourism from a Māori business perspective
  • introducing a new question into the Business Operations Survey (BOS) 2015 that asked Māori businesses to self-identify and to indicate what factors significantly influenced that decision. This was the first time we’ve taken a direct approach to identifying Māori business. See Appendix 2: Māori business self-identification in the Business Operations Survey for more detail.

Our results confirmed that identification of Māori businesses is best achieved either by self-identification – the question added to BOS 2015 – or identification by association – via partnerships with associations of Māori business (Poutama, NZ Māori Tourism, FoMA), the tax system and Companies Office.


We are grateful to Poutama Trust and New Zealand Māori Tourism for their willingness to share data, allowing us to expand our coverage of Māori SMEs.

Related publications

Tatauranga Umanga Māori 2015: Updated statistics on Māori authorities (Statistics NZ, 2015,b)
Information about Māori authorities (businesses we’ve defined as ‘entities for the collective management of assets) from the financial year 2014.

Tatauranga Umanga Māori summary of 2012 consultation (Statistics NZ, 2015,a)
Summary of feedback from the 2012 consultation paper.

Tatauranga Umanga Māori 2014: Statistics on Māori authorities (Statistics NZ, 2014,b)
Information about Māori authorities (businesses we’ve defined as ‘entities for the collective management of assets) from the 2013 and 2014 financial years.

Tatauranga Umanga Māori – consultation paper (Statistics NZ, 2012,b)
Seeking feedback on our process for collecting statistics about Māori businesses.

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