The decision to build a Māori regional economic development strategy comes from the leadership of the mana whenua partnership forum to the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC). This occurred at a formal meeting with Council in 2017. In 2018, BERL was commissioned to produce a report providing a snapshot of the Māori economy in the region at the time. In 2019, a Māori Economic Development Advisor was internally appointed into the Wellington Regional Strategy Office at Council. Ara Tahi appointed iwi members to a wider advisory board to sit alongside Māori business and rangatahi representatives. The advisory board provided guidance, personal insights and experiences to the team who coordinated this process – staff from GWRC and expert contractors from Victoria University of Wellington
Mana whenua across Te Upoko o Te Ika led this strategy in instigating its development, however it was completed in this initial phase from the whakaaro and kōrero given by a broader tangata whenua ki Te Upoko o Te Ika collective. This rautaki is for the mutual benefit of all individuals and rōpū who are currently involved, or seeking to be involved, in the development of the Māori economy in Te Upoko o Te Ika.
The working group consisted of a lead coordinator within Te Pane Matua Taiao, supported by a business and strategy specialist team from Te Herenga Waka and guided by an advisory group consisting of mana whenua, rangatahi and Māori business representatives. Throughout the 14 month development phase, regular hui were held with Māori and economic development staff across the 8 territorial authorities in the rohe, the Wellington NZ Māori Business Advisory and central government personnel who were involved in the sector.
The core component of developing the strategy was the numerous engagement opportunities that were organised and held with Māori communities from across the rohe. The first round of engagement occurred over November – December 2019 in a number of local Māori spaces across the sub – areas of Wairarapa, Te Awakairangi, Pōneke and Taupō Pā. The second round organised for February – March 2020 was unfortunately cut short due to the impacts of Covid-19 and online engagement occurred thereafter via our website ruruku.org
It is through these community hui that key insights on what the key opportunities, threats, strengths and challenges were highlighted. From the abundance of information, a summary is provided below: