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Bay of Connections has just attracted $70,000 in funding from the Ministry of Māori Development, Te Puni Kōkiri, to produce an action-focused strategy to develop Māori assets in the region.
Bay of Connections is the region’s economic development strategy administered by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, in partnership with economic development agencies.
Te Puni Kōkiti (TPK) produced a report in partnership with BERL in 2010 on the Māori asset base in the Bay of Plenty. The report looked at Māori land trusts and incorporations, iwi settlements and Māori businesses, finding there were success stories ‘flying under the radar’, and an increasing level of economic understanding and skill.
However assets were underutilised, costs duplicated and there was a lack of good information, Bay of Connections Governance Group Chairman John Cronin said.
Much of the Māori economy and focus areas fitted within the Bay of Connections, with eight of the 13 focus areas of the Bay of Connections linked in directly with the TPK report, including energy, tertiary, labour and skills, Māori economic development, food and beverage, forestry, tourism and aquaculture.
“There was an opportunity to take the findings of the TPK report and achieve tangible outcomes across the sub-regions and the region. Given the significant asset value of over $8.6 billion in the Waiariki region, we are also a large player at a national level,” Mr Cronin said.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council will also put forward $30,000 in the first year, and another $30,000 towards the Strategy’s implementation over the following year.
“Working together, across the region with key partners such as Te Puni Kokiri, the Regional Council, economic development agencies and relevant industry players will provide the greatest opportunity to further develop the Māori asset base of the Waiariki region.
The Strategy will drill deeper into the findings of the TPK/BERL report, getting a further idea of asset classes and activities. This will include finding out the number of primary-based activities and Māori small business activity.
The Strategy will lead to improved collaboration at sub-regional and regional level, which will help identify where there are opportunities for investment and development. Some outcomes will be developed for the next two to five years, as well as longer term outcomes over the next 10-20 years.
“There are a large number of trusts with underutilised assets, with a need to increase capacity around governance and business opportunities nationally and internationally,” Mr Cronin said.
“A key reason for recently appointing two Māori business representatives onto the Bay of Connections Governance Group was to better identify and develop the engagement at a governance level, and to better understand the Māori business interests in the Bay of Plenty economy,” he said.
The grant will be administered by Bay of Plenty Regional Council and co-led by the two Māori business representatives on Bay of Connections, Dickie Farrar and Richard Jones.