Maori have Asian business edge – Sharples
Maori affairs minister Pita Sharples says the Maori edge in business lies in Asia.
Dr Sharples will share his theory today at Connect Hong Kong trade talks as part of the Hong Kong Festival 2012 in Auckland.
He says being Maori helps with doing business in Hong Kong, where he has led two trade delegations.
“What we’ve discovered is what I call the Maori edge in business: kanohi ki te kanohi. It means talking face-to-face – where you create respect before you do business.”
The Maori Party co-leader says Maori and Chinese people are ideally suited to doing business together.
“We have a culture which has parallels with Chinese people based on relationships, genealogy, relationships with the land and family.”
Dr Sharples says he has created strong business networks in Hong Kong by introducing Maori rituals when meeting potential partners.
“I’ve found this to be a good formula over there – especially if you sing a waiata or a chant.
“Once you’ve gone and done that it's easy to relate with the people as old friends, old cousins, and that’s the secret to our success.”
Hong Kong New Zealand Business Association vice president Andrew Sayers says Dr Sharples is correct.
“I don’t really understand Chinese culture, and Maori culture is very different. But they’re both very respectful and hierarchical. So at a business level they communicate very well.”
Mr Sayers, who is also the managing principal at WHK, says the food and beverage industry is the biggest growth area for New Zealand exports.
“Hong Kong people know New Zealand, they like New Zealand and its clean and green image. This benefits food industries.”
Dr Sharples says Maori are slowly becoming aware of their business opportunities in Hong Kong and greater China.
"We have half the forests in New Zealand, a third of the fishing industry and we have lots of big farms. We’re a natural food basket, and we know it.”
Maori enterprise was valued in 2010 at close to $37 billion.
Hong Kong Invest director Cameron Boardman says New Zealand’s primary food exports are growing significantly because Hong Kong’s 16,000 hotels want quality food.
“They want quality food, they want what’s affordable, and New Zealand’s got that in spades.”
Mr Boardman agreed there is an advantage for Maori in Hong Kong because of cultural similarities, but also because Maori business products were in high demand.
“We see great potential because of the range of food and beverages, consumers products and art. Another one that flies under the radar is indigenous tourism.”