Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Offshore? Does NZ Inc. need Maori trade diplomacy?

The recent resignation of the entire China Beachhead Advisory Board shows how fragile our overseas ventures can be. For all the research, political commentary and public angst, New Zealand’s economic decline continues. For Māori, this underperformance of ‘NZ Inc.’ exacerbates economic vulnerability while compounding the challenges of utilising land and resources in the volatile economic spaces of contemporary globalisation. Management of such resources is contested between cultural logics that oblige owners to protect the environment and intergenerational wealth on the one hand and profit-driven financial accounting on the other.

In this, Māori are not alone as Indigenous communities worldwide draw on whatever capital they have, including social capital comprising the networks of trust and understanding and, perhaps defining this development, cultural capital. A variety of institutions that are based on but not restricted to tradition, now promote Indigenous development while maintaining an awareness of economic bottom-lines. Therefore it can be said that the global challenge of addressing sustainable resource-use in accordance with passionately expressed, locally-generated, and culturally-attuned goals is encapsulated within contemporary Māori and Indigenous economies.

New Zealand has proven adept at past trade negotiations, and many of the predominantly Pākeha players have come from the ‘backblocks’ of New Zealand to take privileged seats at the world’s most powerful meetings. But recent negative publicity on an important delegation to the Middle East, contestation of domestic laws by foreign companies, declining ecological resilience, struggling innovation, and polarising political movements describe a cultural distance that exacerbates this country’s physical distance from the people we need to buy our produce. A racist view positions Māori at the very start of these extended supply chains: low-skilled labourers in a fast-moving world. But trade policy is no longer the exclusive club of politicians, officials, and lawyers. Various social movements now forcefully express alternative perspectives, domestically and offshore. Furthermore, new ‘players’ (coming from what are still labelled Third World or ‘developing’ nations, and potentially representing billions of people) enter the global game as the old Imperial economies struggle with many of the issues New Zealand is confronting. To be Indigenous, of ‘mixed’ descent, or an immigrant is no longer a bad thing and may actually enable previously unrealisable advantages.

While the diplomatic club is no longer exclusively white it is still predominantly masculine, further complicating Māori diplomacy by a sexism that diminishes the significant role of Indigenous women. As with their Pākeha counterparts, wāhine Māori have struggled to gain senior roles in public and private sectors while suffering (along with their children and grandchildren) the worst effects of economic marginalisation. Yet so much community resilience is reliant upon the empowered participation of women! In Aotearoa/New Zealand, if Māori-centric approaches frame how a significant component of the future economy will operate, and women are key decision-makers, then these networks operate in a vacuum of understanding by Māori and non-Māori, men and women.

The insertion of Indigenous discourse is an ineradicable moral, philosophical, legal, and practical challenge to several of the world’s economies, and particularly to those which New Zealand is historically and geopolitically linked. While Indigenous Peoples have achieved remarkable high-level formal recognition of their rights, resilience remains tenuous for many communities. Future trade negotiations involving Indigenous groups, currently in their infancy, are at risk of being opaque or even unintelligible to key participants.


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Monday, June 27, 2011

Is there a word for fear of maps....

Check this link through to a map of Otautahi, sit there and watch...

It's from The Map Room, great blog for those of us who LOVE. MAPS. But I gotta admit, sitting there watching the day of February the 22nd unfold, I was trying to figure out when the big one hit, and I recalled it was after lunch, I was at Waikato-Tainui office, by the river...

In awe of the colours of Papatuanuku squeezing up and around her son, Ruaumoko...

Better than the dreary NASA imagery...

A lot of information from the Christchurch Earthquake Clearinghouse...

But so many unknowns for too many people. Sad winter.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Innovation in New Zealand

Monday, Tuesday this week I was at the International Conference on Invention, Innovation and Commercialisation at the Sudima Hotel, Chirstchurch. Presented my research on the second day, the details of which are in our report, The socio-technical networks of technology users' innovation: a fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis.

Highlights for me were the TUI peeps themselves whose stories are inspiring, scary and enlightening. Also enjoyed Enrico Tronchin's presentation on Disruptive innovation for sustained economic growth: Why New Zealand’s innovation system should be open, distributed and inclusive of innovative users, and Manthyan Janodia's paper on Generating innovation in developing countries: policy formulation and its implications'. Manthan gave some fascinating insight into Indian innovation, check out the website. Products include an amphibious bicycle...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ngati Whatua in the gun for charging - shock horror - market rents for their land

Although headlines speak of a mythical generic Maori commercial entity, it is Ngati Whatua sparking plenty of squealing with the introduction of market rents on their own land despite many businesses benefiting from 15 years of ZERO rent. Poor ol' Micky-D's and KFC are facing annual rent charges of $21,000 a month and $14,000 a month. The tribe reckon the 15-year ground-rent holiday on their Quay Park land has been worth at least $460 million to iwi coffers.

Of course threats to walk away are a typical response but plenty of Canterbury businesses on the run from ongoing aftershocks would love any lease with some foot traffic and geo-stability (although aren't those volcano cones are dormant as opposed to extinct?!).

Taranaki also face hurdles in trying to extract valid rents from the powerful farming lobby which secured (through the Maori Reserved Land Act 1955) rents at 5 per cent of the unimproved value of the land. Rents were reviewed every 21 years.

Nobody said capitalism was easy. Ironically it is left to an Indigenous People to level the playing field.

Pakeha response to a rent review by Titokowaru, circa. 1868.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Maori Economy, latest findings

BERL have release the latest (2010) version of the Maori economy. Weighing in at a hefty $36,897 million, let's round it up to a lazy $37 billion.

Given the Maori economy is supposed to both grow the pie and give Maori a bigger slice, here's a pie chart!

This includes Maori who are self-employed or employers, perhaps a little loose as it delineates Maori as economic players from those Pakeha whom they play with with! Factoring out these two groups we have the following, made up of Maori baords, trusts, incorporations etc.

There's a lot going on in all this. From the last big report (TPK, 2008) the share of the primary sector has, for boards and trusts, gone up from 52% to 55%, although there is undoubtedly more diversity across the entire Maori society. Still, as I've said before, this economy is disconnected from much Maori society as portrayed in the worsening employment figures (over 16% unemployment, 30% for youth and hitting 65% in areas such as Tai Tokerau).

Look for ongoing regurgitation of the figure 37 billion for a Maori economy. But don't look for any improvement in Maori employment...

Nice pic from Laurence Aberhart, Kiwi photographer: Ravensbourne, Dunedin.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Back in Leeston

Enjoyed the NAISA conference but really enjoyed getting home. Somethng about major earthquakes when I've been absent in the past I guess. Took very few photos, just always having to be somewhere and do something (attend, listen, comment, present, listen, respond, drink).

Art from the street through shiny glass...

me over Sacramento

on my way outta Sacramento, with Brenda MacDougall, Robert Innes, and Signa Durma Shanks making sure I go, outside the Hyatt Regency. Brenda holding the little worm i picked up in Tucson a couple years back.

Napa flea market, best shopping by far (well spotted Jennifer Campeau!), just before I bought my latest cowboy hat.

Wall, Sacramento Museum.

Simon Lambert

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