New Zealand’s Minister of Māori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples, and members of his business delegation, met with senior executives from the China Forest Group and discussed future proposals in Beijing this week. China Forest Group executives proposed exploring a programme that would see the next generation of Māori leaders in the forestry sector head out to China to gain experience working in some of China’s largest State Owned Enterprises and companies.
“Members of our delegation represent generations of Māori asset holders with profound, ancestral links to their lands. They are here for the long run,” said Dr Sharples.
“Māori already control 36% of our forests. Our delegation members are ambassadors for our Māori ‘Taniwha’ economy and are keen to talk trade with leaders from China’s Dragon economy.”
“Māori New Zealanders share ancient cultural bonds with our kin in Asia and China and we are proud to celebrate them,” said Dr Sharples.
Dr Sharples confirmed that New Zealand organisations represented at the business meeting included CNI Investments, Federation of Māori Authorities, Poutama Trust and the Māori Trustee. The business delegation is part of an ongoing strategy supported by Te Puni Kōkiri, and aligned with New Zealand Inc, to strengthen trade relationships with China.
Delegation members come from a wide range of sectors including fishing, forestry, agribusiness, education, food and beverage, investment and banking.
“Some of our largest Māori-owned farms, iconic tourism ventures and other innovative businesses are joining us – at no small expense to themselves,” said Dr Sharples. The business delegation has been meeting with government and commercial leaders in Beijing, Guizhou, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Jiangmen and Hong Kong.