Māori in the Service sector

Māori in the Service sector

The Service sector is significant for Māori. Service sector industries are built on connections – including both relationships and networks. As such, a deep purpose and long-term horizons are crucial for Māori in the Service sector. It’s from this foundation, that financial sustainability will come.

In recent years, Māori business has increasingly flourished and is seen as part of the unique identity of the sector, most notably within the Tourism industry. In many cases, Māori-owned businesses are an avenue for Māori to connect and celebrate being Māori. Māori are innately entrepreneurial as a people and that is evident in the breadth of their businesses. Iwi businesses in particular emphasise the importance of leaving a legacy of better outcomes for generations to come. The businesses can vary but their purpose is the same; to bring benefits to their descendants through cultural, social or financial success.

Out of 370,000 Service sector businesses, at least 7,000 are Māori-owned, while at least 5,200 are significant employers of Māori.

There are signs that Māori-owned businesses can have a commercial advantage. The profit margin for Māori-owned businesses in the Tourism Services and Contact Centre industries is at least 10% higher than that of non-Māori-owned businesses in the same industries.

In terms of recruitment or employment, the majority of Māori businesses try to employ whānau, friends or Māori first. It’s a matter of looking within their trusted circle before expanding to the rest of the workforce. While there are full-time employment opportunities for some in these industries, a lot of the roles are either part-time or seasonal.

The manaakitanga at the heart of the Service sector is well aligned with Te Ao Māori. Based on insights gathered so far, businesses that embrace Māori culture in a real and meaningful way will be far more attractive to rangatahi Māori, both as kaimahi and as customers and will be well placed to flourish both economically and socially.

While the contribution of Māori to the Service sector is already significant, the potential for future growth is limitless. The Māori population is growing at a much faster rate than the New Zealand population, with a growing number of young Māori who have been through a kaupapa Māori education and are comfortable being in a Mātauranga Māori | grounded in Māori knowledge environment. These kaimahi are more likely to actively seek workplaces that align with their cultural values.

As such, there is a push for further embedding Te Ao Māori| the Māori worldview and their values in the Service sector.

So-called ‘core skills’, such as customer service and communication are important in any business, but particularly for the Service sector where many roles involve hosting people. For Māori, these skills are intertwined with their culture and their values, adding immense value to our Service sector industries.

Despite the growing presence of Māori in the Service sector, current statistics suggest that Māori within the sector are more likely to be employed in lower-wage roles. There is an urgent need to lift the representation of Māori in higher-wage roles.

Furthermore, rangatahi Māori are more likely than non-Māori to be disengaged from tertiary education and employment. This is significant as people who are disengaged during this transitional phase are at higher risk of poor long-term outcomes.

It is important to recognise that the experience for Māori in the workforce, and Māori businesses, differ significantly from industry to industry. However, creating an environment where Māori can succeed as Māori will be beneficial for individuals, their whānau, and industry. This will allow businesses to access the untapped potential that Māori hold.