Building a Strong New Zealand Economy by Working with Māori Industry

Hanga-Aro-Rau Workforce Development Council (WDC) understands that a strong Māori economy means a strong New Zealand economy – both regionally and nationally – and that we can strengthen both by providing better training and career opportunities for our Māori workforce.  To do so, we must work directly with and act upon the insights presented to us by our Māori industry leaders and stakeholders.  This approach enables us to meet the changing needs of our industries, build sustainable workforces and ensure productive and profitable businesses across Aotearoa.  

Ngahiwi Tomoana, Chair of the Hanga-Aro Rau Industry Stakeholder Group, says, “Transforming Māori economic fortunes now and into the future is one of the greatest challenges facing our families; it’s also one of our greatest opportunities…  At the heart of our Taniwha economy are Māori people, generations of us.  We must harness the potential within our young and fast-growing population and take them with us on this exciting journey.” 

Flo Samuels, Hanga-Aro-Rau Poutiaki Whakahiwa  (Māori Workforce Development Manager), agrees.  “There is a huge opportunity presented by our growing Māori population.  Investing in the development of Māori workers will directly address a projected skills gap of 56,000 workers across the manufacturing, engineering and logistics sectors over the next 5 years.  By leveraging and coordinating stakeholders within the ecosystem, we can better meet the needs of Māori learners and provide more sustainable learning pathways for them.” 

Boosting the success of our Māori businesses will help strengthen the economic future of all New Zealanders, says Darrell Lambert, Hanga-Aro-Rau Poumatua (General Manager, Māori Workforce Development).  “We are driving Māori businesses to act as stewards for change for non-Māori businesses to raise their capability and remove barriers to Māori becoming more skilled, better paid and holding positions of management and ownership.”  “We have made a focused effort to bring Māori stakeholders into our National Industry Advisory Groups and qualification reviews,” Flo adds.  “We are also inviting them to industry initiatives and events where they can inform products and services being provided by government organisations such as the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).”  

With over 400 engagements with Māori stakeholders across the New Zealand economy and government in the last two years, Hanga-Aro Rau is providing meaningful, direct opportunities for industry to have a voice in the vocational education system.  “I am proud that we have built such a strong set of relationships,” Flo says, “with insights that we can leverage across the system in 2024.  I am confident that we are maintaining those relationships well because our stakeholders are responsive and eager to work alongside us.”

Hanga-Aro-Rau is committed to supporting New Zealand businesses by improving access to and delivery of our vocational education and training models for Māori.  In doing so, we better enable a growing Māori workforce to fill our skills gaps and build a more prosperous Aotearoa.  “This is a journey that, when successful, will help us grow the economy and well-being of New Zealand,” Flo says.  “We can’t do this alone. We must enable people to join the hikoi and see more Māori thriving in our industries.”