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Launch of BOP Maori economic strategy first of its kind

Thursday, 20 February 2014 5:00 p.m.

New Zealand’s first regionally coordinated Maori Economic Development Strategy was officially launched in the Bay of Plenty today after two years of development and the input of more than 200 iwi and Maori business representatives.

The strategy, He Mauri Ohooho, has been developed under the Bay of Connections framework in partnership with Te Puni Kokiri, and it strongly links with the national strategy, He kai kei aku ringa.

The strategy was officially launched at Mataatua Wharenui in Whakatane and covers the wider Bay of Plenty region including Eastern Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Western Bay of Plenty and Taupo.

The strategy was guided by an advisory group consisting of Maori business interests, iwi representatives, council members, economic agencies and other organisations.

Bay of Connections Maori Advisory Group co-chair, Richard Jones, says the focus of the strategy is to improve the wealth and wellbeing for Maori across the wider Bay of Plenty region in the key areas of income, employment, health and education.

“Maori economic development is central to our region’s prosperity. The goal of the strategy is to provide the necessary support to ensure the success of the many initiatives that are already underway at local, regional, iwi and trust levels, and provide the medium to develop new ones,” says Mr Jones.

The development of the strategy commenced with an economic analysis of Maori in the wider Bay of Plenty region followed by five consultation hui across the area.

“We have had significant input and support from Maori business representatives through consultation hui. Their contribution is fundamental to the success of the strategy in the future,” says Mr Jones.

Te Puni Kokiri Chief Executive Michelle Hippolite praised the initiative shown in the wider Bay of Plenty to get the strategy launched.

“Te Puni Kokiri is thrilled to be a partner in this work. It demonstrates the kind of thinking we have always hoped He kai kei aku ringa would inspire. Local interests have worked together on ways in which economic development can flourish and contribute to the health and well-being of their communities.“I am sure that there will be many other regions around the country that will watch this work with interest,” says Mrs Hippolite.

Maori Advisory Group co-chair and Bay of Connections Governance Group member, Anthony Olsen, says one of the challenges of the project was to capture actions that support economic opportunities as well as those that focus on capacity building and skill development.

“Communities recognise that all levels of society will contribute to economic development in the region. Maori are major stakeholders and contributors to economic growth in the wider Bay of Plenty and this can be recognised across all sectors, from health and education to forestry and energy, aquaculture and horticulture to freight logistics and sport and recreation,” says Mr Olsen.

The strategy identifies six strategic priorities that will contribute toward the vision of Maori creating wealth, job and prosperity across the region – Strategic Leadership, Collective Asset Utilisation, Business Networks, High Value Business Growth, Capital and Investment and Education and Skill Development.

“The strategy provides the foundation for creating conversations about Maori economic development within our region and developing connections and relationships between Maori entities and other parts of the economy,” says Mr Olsen.

The establishment of a targeted Action Group to implement the strategy is now in progress.

The Bay of Connections is the industry-led growth strategy for the wider Bay of Plenty area, including the Eastern Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo and Western Bay of Plenty regions, in partnership with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the region’s economic development agencies.

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Maori Economic Development Strategy launch Feb 2013 low res