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Working With Maori Framework Of Success

A recent report released by Te Puni Kokiri (Ministry of Maori Development) on Maori involvement in the economy makes it timely for workplaces to consider the strategic business and HR implications of changing role of Maori.

According to BERL and the Federation of Maori Authorities, Maori have an asset base of $10.8 billion, with investment primarily in housing, agriculture, forestry, fishing, tourism, and business and commercial assets. The Maori land base stands at 1.5 million hectares, largely in the North Island. Aside from assets gained through Treaty of Waitangi claims settlements, several other indicators bode well for future Maori participation in the economy. For example, an increasing number of Maori are participating in tertiary education, with Maori university graduates quadrupling between 1990 and 1996 to 1600. In that year, the major fields of study for Maori were the humanities (26%), commerce and business (17%), and education (14%). The number of Maori in self-employment is also on the rise, doubling from 5% of all employed Maori in 1981 to almost 10% in 1996.

However, despite these trends, Maori still have poorer health, lower educational achievement and higher levels of unemployment than Pakeha. The reasons are complex, and include factors such as the state of the economy and the job market, and a relative lack of liquid assets held by Maori to help in developing investments.

Where Employers Come In.

Employers influence Maori outcomes through their policies, the way they recruit, select and employ, and the way they purchase and deliver goods and services. "Working with Maori", to be released in November by the EEO Trust, gives employers practical and flexible guidelines on managing their relationships with Maori as employees and business colleagues.

Why Work with Maori Matters?

Developing sound employment and business relationships with Maori communities is an increasingly important issue for employers because Treaty of Waitangi obligations and claims settlements make it necessary for organisations to consider business objectives in terms of local Maori development and the potential for investment and joint ventures. Human rights legislation requires non-discriminatory recruitment, selection, management and rewarding of staff. The growing use of whanau interview procedures is an example of a positive response to this requirement. Occupational safety and health obligations require a physically safe and harassment-free workplace. An investment in skills training and education is the key here. Resource management issues for organisations whose activities impact on Maori-owned resources may involve finding staff within the organisation who can facilitate meetings with Maori, visit local marae, or enter into negotiations.

Some organisations have developed innovative strategies to address these issues. Recognising the importance of skills training, Fletcher Challenge Paper's Tasman Mill in Kawerau set up a learning centre called Te Whare Ako in 1994. One aim was to provide Te Reo classes for staff. Since then, the centre has moved from working mainly with Maori employees to working with Pakeha management who have increasingly recognised the need to understand the language, culture and values of the people they work with.

For further information on Working with Maori, check out the article in full which was written by EEO Trust for HRINZ titled "Working with Maori Framework of Success."

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