Thursday, May 12, 2011

NAISA bound...Native American and Indigenous Studies Association annual conference

I'm returning to the NAISA conference, held in Sacramento this year and hosted by UC Davis Native American Studies department. I don't present until the Saturday (compared to first session, first day at last year's conference...).

I'm presenting a literature review and critique of the so-called Maori economy ...

‘What rough beast, its hour come...’: The Maori economy in 21st global economics

Abstract: In Aotearoa/New Zealand, a beast called the Maori economy has been (re)released after 150 years of resistance. This economy, and its agribusiness component in particular, is interpreted by both Maori and the government as the ‘sleeping giant’ of the wider New Zealand economy. Maori business ventures now engage with international partners in furthering their development aims, and as a unit of ‘NZ Inc.’ this Indigenous trading division is prophesized to both grow the pie and give Maori a bigger slice.

But the current financial crisis – deemed the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) – has thrown economic orthodoxy on its head. While this latest collapse was something Indigenous peoples (and others) predicted, and they could not have brought it about themselves, they must still deal with the consequences. Yet with ongoing revelations of environmental and social interconnections on a global scale, is it still feasible to speak of distinct Indigenous economies in the context of such complexity?

While the contemporary Maori economy and its agribusiness ventures have expanded rapidly, they do so with ever greater environmental, social and cultural pressures. This paper critiques the literature on successive Maori economies and offers thoughts on how such economies have endured. Of great interest to NZ Inc. is how this economy may contribute to non-Maori development. By extension, how might Indigenous business contribute to planetary resilience?

The title is an allusion to W.B. Yeats peom, 'The Second Coming', and continues my research into this rough beast, this sleeping giant of the New Zealand economy that is somehow to both grow the pie and allow Maori a larger slice.

Other news. I made it through to the next round of the Marsden, pitching 'Maori Trade Diplomacy: from backblocks to big table'. Also have two bids in for earthquake research funding, internal Lincoln funds and an application in to EQC (the Earthquake Commission) awaiting to be asked for a full bid. So busy busy busy but better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick as we like to say...

Monday, May 09, 2011

Maori Economy Update...size matters, right?

Guesstimates of the size of the Maori economy can rest on the latest update. BERL has released a report valuing the Maori economy at $36 billion, made up of ...

• trusts and incorporations of $4.0 billion
• other Mäori entities of $6.7 billion
• businesses of self-employed Mäori of $5.4 billion
• businesses of Mäori employers of $20.8 billion

Most of the media reports (I've yet to get my ringa ringa on the original report) are focusing on scenarios linking, or not linking, this economy to science and innovation. While obviously fitting into the coalition governments science innovation strategies, there's no doubt that Maori are - individually and collectively - missing out on the benefits of wider, better, innovation in the NZ economy.

Of course Pakeha could have the same complaint.

Minister Sharples announced "the Māori Asset Base has more than doubled since 2006 ... No longer will people question whether or not a Māori Economy exists. The Māori Economy, our sleeping giant has begun to awake—and it has a fierce appetite."

I think people can rightly question the operations of a Maori economy, and the ongoing economic marginalisation of Maori as outlined in the latest unemployment figures (portrayed as an improvement but continuing the sad commentary on Maori figures: overall, Maori unemployment is up from 15.5% to 16.1%; NZ-wide youth unemployment is 27.5%... in Te Tai Tokerau a horrific 67% for Maori rangatahi.

I think we have a three speed economy: those who are doing very well individually (they're the ones who give press releases); those in the middle who struggle like all other middle-class battlers (that's me); and those left-right-out, disproportionately Maori and Pasifika but also a distressing number of Pakeha. Why distressing? They're a big electorate, and they don't necessarily vote Labour anymore.

Anyways, have delivered two guest lectures thus far at Lincoln: COMM 101 and ERST 203, and giving two for MGMT 203. Lecturing presents the ideal space to inform the debate through getting in front of young people. Old people ain't gonna change their minds, or not without rather chilling empirical evidence.

What rough beast is slouching towards Jerusalem...

Image filched from Hangdogs Photostream (aka Chuan Chew)
Simon Lambert

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