Survey finds Māori businesses upbeat
With a strong asset base, a growing talent pool and high levels of optimism, Māori businesses are shifting their focus to profit and prosperity, New Zealand’s most in-depth business survey has found.  
Te Tirohanga Whānui - The Māori Business Key Insights Report – compiled from the findings of ANZ’s annual Privately Owned Business Barometer, showed Māori businesses had significantly higher levels of optimism and stronger profit growth than non-Māori businesses.  
“Increased opportunities and a sense that Māori are in charge of their own future are some of the factors driving excitement in the Māori business community,” said Graham Turley, ANZ’s Managing Director Commercial & Agri.   
“Māori businesses lead the way on so many fronts – they are building sustainable businesses, adopting new technologies, have a fast-emerging pool of talent, strong networks and a collaborative approach to business that’s so important in a small market like New Zealand.   
“This year’s Barometer shows a change in perspective, from an often-adversarial period of asset consolidation, to working together with other businesses – Māori and non-Māori – to realise opportunities and grow profits.” 
Te Tirohanga Whānui is a collaboration between ANZ and Poutama Trust, Te Tumu Paeroa, NZ Māori Tourism, and the Federation of Māori Authorities to gather and share information to help improve Māori business performance.  
The survey had 336 respondents who identified themselves as Māori in business, or people owning, managing or governing a Māori business. They represent organisations with a combined annual turnover of more than $1 billion.  
As in the 2014 survey, the most prominent main industry among Māori business respondents was Agri/forestry/fishing (29%), followed by education/training (7%) and professional services (7%).  
Results of the Barometer are widely used by businesses, organisations working with the private sector, and key decision-makers in government.   
Other issues identified in the survey included:   
The Māori advantage  
There’s also a growing awareness among Māori businesses that being Māori can be a significant benefit, if it can be leveraged effectively. In this year’s Barometer, 51% of Māori business respondents saw being a Māori business as some degree of advantage – in Focus Groups some people questioned why more Māori didn’t see this as a plus. Focus Group participants were quick to reinforce that being Māori must be accompanied by the right skills to be an advantage.   
Finding the right people  
Significant investment in education and training has lifted qualification levels among young Māori.  However, lack of skilled staff continues to be an issue, even more so when compared to New Zealand as a whole. This may again reflect the developing life stage of Māori business and the expansion mode they are in compared with the mainstream economy. Around 40% of respondents also said they were actively recruiting Māori staff. The ease of finding Māori staff varied – 23% said it was very hard, 22% said it was very easy and around half were neutral.   
Collaborating for growth  
The survey results indicate that Māori businesses are collaborating almost twice as much, in almost all areas, as non-Māori businesses, and 40% of Māori respondents said partnerships and joint ventures would be a key driver of their growth. Key areas of collaboration reported by Māori businesses include business development and sales, training, and research and development.   
Social responsibility with profit  
The desire to support wider social objectives is evidenced by ‘helping others’ being the No 1 reason Māori respondents are in business. Helping others reflects the collective ownership of many Māori businesses, the role as intergenerational custodians and a focus on whānau and social commitment. The focus is also on driving profit and cash flow from their asset base. Most will never sell culturally significant assets like land, so unlike non-Māori businesses capital gain is much less of a focus.   
Key findings of the ANZ Barometer Māori Business Key Insights Report  
Of Māori business respondents:  
 72% are optimistic about prospects for the next three years (51% for non-Māori businesses) 
 54% recorded an increase in profit over the past 12 months (46% for non-Māori businesses) 
 16% recorded a profit increase of more than 25% over the previous 12 months 
 72% expect profit to increase over the next 12 months 
 27% are operating internationally; 14% aim to be in the next 2 years 
 53% identified succession as an issue – the figure is even higher for iwi and hapū-owned entities and Māori trusts and incorporations (72%) 
 35% said a lack of skilled staff was having an impact on their business – compared to 25% of total respondents
The Māori Business Key Insights Report - Te Tirohanga Whānui can be seen at: