Maori have been international traders since at least the 1790s, producing and supplying potatoes, other vegetables, fruit and pigs for sale to whalers in return for powder shot, tomahawks, blankets, calico, clothing, pipes, tobacco and muskets. During the early-mid 1800s Maori were exporting food products to Sydney and the California goldfields. Maori at that time also owned and operated most of the coastal shipping.
The increasing influx of European settlers from mid 1800s saw imported values and laws gain traction, particularly around individualism of land title. Subsequent land sales, land wars and confiscations led to rapid, and in many cases irreversible, erosion of the traditional Maori economic and capital base and social institutions. The mid 1900s are epitomised by mass movements of Maori into cities, taking their labour skills and hard work ethics into the commercial centres of New Zealand.
At the turn of the 21st century, Maori enterprise and entrepreneurship has seen a significant return to and regrowth of Māori-owned businesses. Characterised by whanau or family-run operations based on collaboration and networking, the economic goals driving Māori-owned business are often underpinned by social objectives.
Equipped with a culturally based business approach and style of operating Maori are confident and enthusiastic at conducting business throughout Aotearoa-New Zealand and throughout the World. Maori businesses, and those who invest in them, are reaping the benefits from growing cultural confidence, strengthening business acumen and a unique indigenous point of difference to contribute to their business activities.
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