Te Tētere Kōkiri o Te Ata: Optimising Economic Performance of Māori Land Trusts in the Waiariki Region.

Project commenced:

The research questions for this project are; - How can active management enhance the economic performance of Māori land trusts? and, - What models of collaboration can Māori land trusts use to enhance economic performance? The aim of the project is to identify sustainable and scalable models of ‘active’ management that will enhance the economic performance of Māori land trusts by 2020. The objectives of this project are to not only identify the key success that will enhance the economic performance of Māori land trusts, but also identify potential models of collaboration. The research is specifically positioned in response to an emerging need for Māori land trusts to consider capability gaps in management; as well as the questions posed by the He Kai Kei Aku Ringa1 and He Mauri Ohooho reports about increasing utilisation of Māori assets. The Māori Advisory Group for He Mauri Ohooho emphasised a capability gap in Māori land trust management which is reinforced by data from consultation on employer and tertiary education needs in the Bay of Plenty region. The research aim and objectives are premised on the hypothesis that active management of assets will enhance the economic performance of Māori land trusts. Te Mata Hautū Taketake – the Māori and Indigenous Governance Centre (‘MIGC’) at the University of Waikato will collaborate with Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa (‘Te Pumautanga’) on this project. MIGC will provide academic rigour to the research and Te Pumautanga will provide community connectivity. The project will be framed by Kaupapa Māori principles, will focus on Māori development, and be conducted within Māori communities in the Waiariki region. The involvement of Te Pumautanga is critical to the success of this project and in being able to translate the research findings into real outcomes in the community. The research will moreover, consider Collective Impact as a model or theory of development during the course of the research. The project will also employ mixed methods structured into three stages as follows: Stage 1 will consist of mini-case studies with eight Māori land trusts/collectives and will focus on identifying existing models of practice, organisation of governance and management, and challenges enhancing performance. Case studies are a useful method for “investigating one or a small number of social entities or situations about which data are collected using multiple sources of data and developing a holistic description through an iterative research process.” Stage 2 will comprise a literature review and ten interviews with key informants and will seek to clarify the challenges in Stage 1 as they relate to the focus areas: activating management and collaboration. Key informants can be drawn from a range of successful Māori case studies including Miraka Ltd (a consortium of land trusts in Taupo), Ngatahi (a consortium of land trusts in Te Whakatohea), and Kokakotaea Ltd (an iwi-owned forestry company aligned with Ngatahi). Stage 3 will involve stakeholder workshops with Trusts in the Waiariki region to discuss which approaches to collaboration and active management best suit their context. The project will identify possible pathways for Māori land trusts to create scale, to effectively utilise their assets, and to enhance their economic performance particularly in creating a better return on assets. Such returns will then improve the collective asset base (and monetary wealth) held within Māori land trusts.