Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tekau plus a Multiplier?

After listening to the soft cop on Radio NZ this morning trying to skewer first, Paul Morgan and then, John Paki I realised two things. The first was that RNZ will really miss Sean Plunkett - love him or loathe him he's capable of asking tough questions with doggedness. Fellas like Paul and John have been batting away more searching questions from the pitbulls of Maori politics for many years now.

Second, and more importantly, is the struggle Maori businesses still have in establishing export markets. Its a hard game people, and we need to bring the best brains to the task. Hint: they may not be Maori...
The project was always a tough ask: ten Maori companies worth $10 million in exports in 10 years. We're somewhat arrogant in our assumption that Indigenous/Maori branding and our happy-go-lucky attitude, good looks and history (of whaling, warfare and monopoly trade) was some sort of automatic entre into the global economy. Not even.

A tangential issue that repeats like a bad mussel is nepotism in Aotearoa/New Zealand in general and Maori in particular. A visiting Ngati Kahungunu presenter spoke of this the other day here at Lincoln ...'Auntys GArden, I'll speak about this later, really interesting stuff. Anyways, how are we meant to operate without somehow working in with siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins?! And once you're in a particular field at a certain level, don't you know each other anyway? Look at the contortions the most senior justice authorities are going through to deal with an erring judge?

We are, of course, blithely naive about corruption in this country, so ready to chant our credentials, so reluctant to protect and enhance them. Transparency International NZ has published an interesting report on this ignorance: Are We As Good As We Perceive?. Seems that many of New Zealand’s largest listed businesses have not achieved fundamental best practice ethics standards. For companies listed on the NZX 50, only 44% have policies prohibiting bribery. This compares to 72% of the UK top 100 companies (by market capitalisation), 57% in Europe, and 69% in the US.

Further, several high profile cases give us cause for concern. In August, last year Phillip Taito Field became the first Member for Parliament to be found guilty of corruption; Field was sentenced to six years jail in October. In November, a report by Margaret Bazley into the legal aid found the system “undermined by more than 200 corrupt lawyers”. Four councillors elected to Environment Canterbury with personal and business interests in water use were found to have voted in favour of these interests.

All dodgy stuff, agreed? In wider NZ, sports - an area in which New Zealand takes great pride - several sportspeople have been found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs; a NZ rugby-player (Nick Evans) was involved in a serious cheating case in Premier League rugby in the United Kingdom. There is also the strange case of a NZ registered company leasing a plane delivering weapons somewhere, via Thailand…

Trust is hard won and easily lost. Is it already gone from Aotearoa/Neew Zeeland?

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Simon Lambert

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