Introduction to Māori agribusiness

Growing and protecting Māori primary sector assets contributes directly to the development of New Zealand's regional economies. MPI believes that assisting Māori make the most of their assets will lead economic growth for the nation. Learn how we're making a difference together.



On Tuesday 11 February 2020, Hikurangi Bioactives hosted a Wānanga Kānuka in Gisborne with the support of MPI and the Gisborne District Council. The wānanga was the result of the Optimising Kānuka Production project funded by the Erosion Control Funding Programme (ECFP). The wānanga included sessions on:

  • the taxonomy of kānuka and its role in the ecosystem
  • the bioactivity of kānuka
  • the kānuka industry and market opportunities
  • kānuka and intellectual property
  • entities that can give assistance to landowners.

Erosion Control Funding Programme (ECFP)

Kānuka Handbook [PDF, 6.5 MB]

Taranaki Land Diversification Opportunities Symposium

The Taranaki Land Diversification Opportunities Symposium was held in Hawera on 27 August 2019. It was hosted by the Ministry for Primary Industries in partnership with Te Puni Kōkiri.

The symposium was open to all whānau, hapū, iwi, and anyone else interested in developing their whenua. Attendees heard about the journeys some Taranaki landowners have already undertaken. There were also presentations on the opportunities, advice, and funding available to help protect the land for future generations of mokopuna.

Presentations from guest speakers are on our Conferences and events page

Māori key to MPI's strategy

Māori agribusiness is a key component of the Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI's) strategic goals. Our strategy commits to supporting the primary sectors, including Māori, to maximise the benefits from the sustainable use of their primary sector assets. Supporting the growth of the Māori economy will also support the growth of New Zealand's economy. Māori economic development and regional development are inseparable.

Working with the Māori agribusiness team

MPI's Māori Agribusiness team aims to partner with Māori to overcome some of the unique challenges you face when developing your primary sector assets. We offer 2 programmes with a specific focus on working with Māori primary sector assets (agriculture, horticulture, forestry, or seafood) in collective ownership.

An essential component of our work is developing and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships between Māori and MPI. We have a network of regional staff. So, when you're ready to achieve your aspirations through developing your primary sector assets – from production through processing to exporting, MPI can work in partnership with you to and identify tailored support to help you to make this happen.

Through our work with Māori, MPI has identified 6 common steps whānau can take to start the journey to improve the performance of their land. We've illustrated these steps in our pamphlet and video.

Increasing the value of Māori land – pamphlet [PDF, 2.1 MB]

Māori agribusiness video (7.35)

[This video is narrated off-screen, while the concepts are illustrated in real-time on a white drawing board.]

Narrator: Whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua  As man disappears from sight, the land remains.

It's important for Māori that the land is retained throughout generations – that's whakapapa; that the important relationship Māori have with the land is recognised – that's whanaungatanga; and that Māori can act as guardians of the land's natural and physical resources – that's kaitiakitanga.

Māori will want these values observed when dealing with the estimated ten point 6 billion dollars in primary sector assets that Māori hold.

MPI partners with Māori to grow and protect these assets. This helps to further grow the New Zealand economy.

MPI has worked with a number of Māori land owners to help them achieve their aspirations on their terms, bringing together smaller land blocks to build economic scale for the benefit of their mokopuna.

So how does this happen?

For Whaea Tui, and most Māori for that matter, land or whenua is taonga tuku iho – a treasure that has been passed down through generations.

Whaea Tui remembers stories of a time when her whānau farmed and lived off their land. Over time whānau has ceased to control the use of their land. Now she wonders what could happen if the land in her area came together. Could this build the assets of the whānau, so that they can manage their land themselves, make decisions on its use and provide for the benefit of her mokopuna?

Whaea Tui is determined and driven, which is a great start! But what's got her stumped is figuring out all the different pieces of the puzzle.

This is where MPI can help, with staff on the ground across the country working with Māori who have asked the exact same question as Whaea Tui.

From these interactions MPI has identified six key steps that have resulted in Māori successfully bringing together smaller land blocks, and are on hand to help Whaea Tui explore her options.

Step 1: Establish a project group ("1000 cups of tea")

Firstly Whaea Tui needs to go out and talk to people on the surrounding land blocks. Typically they'll be whānau leaders, trustees of land owning groups or key influencers in the groups. Many call this the thousand cups of tea stage.

She'll need to sit with the group and discuss what opportunities might be available. These considerations will be everything from discussing the current state of the land to how to best govern that land. If Whaea Tui needs help getting the right people involved, or figuring out the ins-and-outs of what needs to be considered, she can give MPI a call. When some or all of the group are ready, they can move forward.

Step 2: Strategic Planning

Back around the table, the next step for Whaea Tui and the Whānau Leaders Group is to develop a plan. This fleshes out the aspirations and objectives of the group and all parties they represent.

Development of the plan would identify what the group wants to achieve. Goals like developing the land and establishing a good business, creating education and employment opportunities for whānau, controlling the development of their land, or simply wanting to leave something behind for the next generation.

While MPI can help with strategic planning and bringing this process together, figuring out their aspirations is what Whaea Tui and the Whānau Leaders Group need to flesh out on their own.

Step 3: Feasibility study

Once the plan reflects the group's aspirations for their land, it's time to put the land to the test. A feasibility study will determine the best use of the land, and provide enough information for the group to discuss the next best steps forward. It also helps to make the proposed options more real if the group visits the land and gets to visualise in person what is being discussed.

MPI knows some great farm consultants who can help kick off this feasibility study, and MPI can also put Whaea Tui in touch with Māori who've taken the same journey and are more than happy to share their knowledge. It's worth a mention that after all this advice and consideration, Whaea Tui and the group may decide not to go ahead.

Step 4: Get owners on board

If Whaea Tui and the group want to continue with one or more of the options, the next step is to explain the opportunity to the wider group, and it's likely you'll be drinking more tea.

It can be challenging to get others to understand the benefits of building economic scale, and still be comfortable with the risks that are involved. This is where MPI can help Whaea Tui to explain the benefits and risks, and bring into the loop Māori who have taken the same journey to share their experiences.

Step 5: Governance Structure Set-up

So Whaea Tui's got everyone to agree to move forward with an option for their land. Great! Believe it or not that's a lot of the hard work done and dusted. The next step is to put the right people into the right positions to make sure this venture runs as smoothly and successfully as possible.

Here is a great opportunity to position whānau alongside the knowledge holders in key positions, so they can learn the tricks of the trade as the venture progresses. What's most important here is adopting a governance structure that ensures all parties retain ownership to the whenua that is important to them. This is where MPI can put Whaea Tui in touch with experts who can make sure this happens.

Step 6: Operational Set-up

Once Whaea Tui has her ducks in a row, the rest will fall out of the planning. Whatever option the group has decided to go with will now require set-up and infrastructure, whether it be in:

  • mānuka plantations
  • sheep and beef farming
  • wheat and barley cropping
  • timber harvesting, or
  • dairy farming.

MPI has networks right across the primary industries who will be able to help Whaea Tui every step of the way.

So there it is, 6 key steps that MPI can help you with, to bring smaller land blocks together and build economic scale, for the benefit of your mokopuna:

  1. Establish a project group
  2. Strategic planning
  3. Completing a feasibility study
  4. Getting owners on board
  5. Setting up a governance structure
  6. Setting up operations

If you want to explore what options might be possible for your whenua, on your terms, don't hesitate to get in touch.

[Logo: Ministry for Primary Industries.]

Who are the Māori agribusiness programmes for?

To begin the process of accessing support, you need:

  • Māori land in collective ownership
  • owners and trustees driving the work
  • the permission of land owners
  • a transparent process for making decisions with the group
  • a long-term, sustainable primary sector focus.

Two programmes for Māori landowners and agribusinesses

MPI supports projects focused on sustainably increasing the productivity of Māori-owned primary sector assets through 2 programmes:

  • The Māori Agribusiness Pathway to Increased Productivity (MAPIP) Programme: MAPIP focuses on helping realise tangible on-the-ground projects identified by a Māori landowners or agribusinesses.
  • The Māori Agribusiness Extension (MABx) Programme: MABx focuses on providing shared, group learning opportunities, exploring options for sustainable system changes.

Māori agribusiness project reports

Mid-North (Northland) Multiple Maori Land Blocks [PDF, 11 MB]
Land Development Opportunities for a Sustainable and Prosperous Future. This report offers Maori land owners in Northland promising options for developing their land. The report looks at 3,986 land blocks totalling 84,002 hectares within a 50km radius of Kaikohe.

Māori Agribusiness Prototype projects: Final Evaluation – Full report [PDF, 1.6 MB] and Executive Summary [PDF, 1 MB] 
The Kinnect Group evaluated how well MPI supports Māori asset owners to maximise the productivity of their primary sector assets. They found that, through strong relationships and partnerships, MPI effectively supported Māori to access the knowledge and skills they needed to improve productivity.

Economic benefits of increasing productivity of Māori land [PDF, 367 KB]
PwC’s report refines the economic model developed in a 2013 report on growing the productive base of Māori land. It provides good evidence of the national economic benefits of raising the productivity of Māori freehold land.

Growing the productive base of Māori freehold land – further evidence and analysis [PDF, 3.5 MB]

Economic analysis of prototype interventions to lift Māori agribusiness productivity [PDF, 481 KB]

2013 PWC report 'Growing the productive base of Māori freehold land [PDF, 1.4 MB]

MPI resources for Māori 

How MPI and Māori are managing kaimoana

Food safety resources for the marae

Customary Fisheries Research Fund

Foot-and-mouth disease preparedness

Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures

Other resources for Māori

Vision Mātauranga – MBIE

Office of Treaty Settlements

Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK)

TPK's recent review of the Te Ture Whenua Act

Federation of Māori Authorities

Te Tumu Paeroa

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