Kia whakamānawatia a Ranginui e tū iho nei, a Papatūānuku e takoto ake nei me ā rāua uri e whakamarumaru nei i a tātou.

Ko ngā hua ēnei o rātou mā ka ahu mai i te rangi, ka whano mai i te whenua, ka tākiri mai i ngā wai, ka pupuhi mai i ngā hau me te taiao e ora nei tātou.

E tika ana kia mihia rātou mā, ngā atua māori e noho nei hei kaiwhakamarumaru i ngā wai me ngā whenua taurikura puta noa i Aotearoa.

Kia kī ake i konei -  Toitū te whenua, whatungarongaro te tangata!

Tīhei Mauriora!

We honour Ranginui above and Papatūānuku lying here before us and their progeny who shelter and protect us.

These are the benefits derived from the natural elements – from the sky, the land, from the water and the winds and the environment that give us life.

It is fitting that we acknowledge them all, the natural elements that act as protectors of the waters and the prosperous land throughout Aotearoa.

As echoed in the expression – While the land endures, people disappear from sight.

Here is the breath of life!

Food and fibre sector Māori WDP

Muka Tangata is the voice of the food and fibre sector in vocational education and training. We work closely with Māori on ways that iwi and hapū, Māori businesses, employers, employees, and learners can flourish in the sector.

We are seeking your whakaaro and expertise on developing a Māori Workforce Development Plan for the food and fibre sector.

Learn more about this plan and how you can get involved!

Māori - leaders in the food and fibre sector

"Ka Mua, Ka Muri - Walking backwards into the future."

When we talk about Māori in the food and fibre sector, we first look back at our past - the invaluable and innovative participation and contribution Māori have made, and how that can inform the future.

Ō Mua - Then

When Māori arrived in Aotearoa, they brought their knowledge of food growing and a variety of plants that continue to grow today. The cooler climate could not sustain some plants, so early Māori learnt to utilise the fruit from native trees such as poroporo and karaka. There were different offerings from Tangaroa but the customs and practices around fishing were put to good use.

After the arrival of Europeans, Māori embraced some of the new ‘exotic’ fruit, plants and vegetables the explorers and settlers brought with them as well as the opportunity to trade in New Zealand and Australia. Early examples of Māori operating in the food and fibre sector include: 

  • A desire for Aotearoa timber led to Māori involvement in the felling of timber for commercial purposes following logs and spars being supplied by Māori to visiting ships
  • Demand from Sydney, Australia motivated nothern rangatira, Ruatara, to sow and harvest the first wheat crop in 1812. It is believed that Ruatara was the first to plant wheat in Aotearoa.
  • Māori were the first commercial vegetable growers in the country, trading with early settlers and exporting potatoes to Sydney, Australia in the 1830s.
  • By the 1860s, Māori had become the first commercial beekeepers in the country, with the commercial production of honey beginning in the late 1870s.

Land wars and breaches of te Tiriti o Waitangi in the second half of the 19th century robbed many Māori of the land and resources that enabled them to be the early industry leaders.

Treaty of Waitangi settlements, including the 1992 Fisheries Settlement, have helped Māori regain some of the resources that have helped build their asset base, and many iwi and hapū have invested and are building capability in the food and fibre sector.

Āpirana Ngata’s work encouraging landowners to form trusts or incorporations provided a way to retain tribal ownership and to efficiently use land with multiple owners. This meant that fragmented Māori land titles could be combined into viable farming units – many of which still operate today.

Ō Naianei - Now

Today, Māori are a significant and growing group across the food and fibre sector. 

Iwi and hapū have substantial assets and interests in businesses across a range of industries. In 2018, the financial value of the Māori asset base across the Aotearoa economy totalled $68.7 billion, with the biggest share of this being in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industries ($23.4 billion - an increase of $12 billion since 2013).  

This included significant assets in Sheep and Beef farming ($8.6 billion), Dairy ($4.9 billion), Forest industry ($4.3 billion), and Seafood ($2.9 billion). Of the natural resource-based assets in agriculture, Horticulture, Forest industry, and Fishing, more than half ($14.4 billion) are situated in four rohe: Waikato, Te Moana a Toi-Waiariki, Waitaha, and Te Tai Hauāuru.

In 2020, 287,663 people worked across all of the Muka Tangata industries, and Māori make up 16% of this workforce. This is higher than the percentage of people who identify as Māori in the general Aotearoa working age population. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that while Māori are well represented in the workforces and within food and fibre sector assets, they are under-represented in leadership and managerial positions.

Ā Muri - The Future

Muka Tangata is developing and strengthening partnerships with iwi, hapū and Māori businesses across Aotearoa to better understand skills needs both now and in the future. Our approach is underpinned by te Tiriti o Waitangi and a recognition that mātauranga Māori contributes significantly to better outcomes for Māori.  

The world of work constantly changes so our job will never be complete. We will continue to research and work on ways for Māori to be leaders in the food and fibre sector. For example:

  • How can we work with Māori on ways to support their innovation, entrepreneurship, and a desire to flourish in the food and fibre sector?
  • What is the best way to recognise, incorporate and value mātauranga Māori within the vocational education sector?
  • How can skills that are valued in te ao Māori be part of our qualifications and delivery of training?
  • What can be changed in the vocational education system so that more Māori become leaders and managers in food and fibre sector industries?
  • What can workplaces and industries do to have better career pathways for Māori and how will education and training contribute?

Māori Workforce Development Plan

Muka Tangata has developed 14 industry-specific Workforce Development Plans. These are a first version, designed for further engagement with industry, iwi, hapū and Māori business to refine the opportunities and roadmaps.

Each plan includes key actions and areas that industry, including Māori industry leaders, have identified where change is needed. We have a responsibility and a commitment to reflect the goals, aspirations and needs of Māori as we work towards completing those actions.

We have begun work on a Māori Workforce Development Plan, through which we will be able to focus more intently on success for Māori learners, workers and businesses. We want to help develop resources, initiatives and solutions that have Māori at the forefront.

In particular, we want the Māori Workforce Development Plan to be useful to iwi, hapū and whānau organisations whose interests cross a range of sectors. There are enormous opportunities for skills, training, and workforce development to support their long-term needs and aspirations.

If you want to contribute or be kept up to date with this mahi, please email us:

Industry Workforce Development Plans

Each of the 14 industry-specific Workforce Development Plans include information on demographic, ethnicity and gender in the industry, including details of Māori participation.

The plans also contain a broad overview of some of the issues that have been raised with Muka Tangata over the last year, and potential changes to vocational education and training that will support workforce development.

The plans are 'living documents' - we have shared these online so that we can update them as new information comes to light and we make progress on each of the actions.


All Food and Fibre Actions

Ongoing engagement, research, and analysis tells us that there are a number of challenges and opportunities that are common across the food and fibre sector. These are detailed in the 'Roadmap' section.

Muka Tangata will approach these challenges centrally, as there will be benefits across the sector, and tailor and apply solutions to ensure they meet the needs of individual industries, and iwi, hapū and whānau Māori. Input from Māori is essential to all the actions, and will be part of ongoing work. For example:

  • Supporting the physical and emotional wellbeing of all learners, is an important component of helping them to succeed.  Supporting whānau Māori will be at the forefront of our changes and recommendations on an action to Support Learners to Succeed. Existing research has identified good practice and successful models, but there still appears to be a gap in implementation. We will investigate what barriers may exist to the wider uptake and use of proven approaches.  
  • The Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) offers better combinations of on-job and ‘classroom’ based learning; learning closer to home/work; and/or online or computer-based learning. As part of the action to Explore and support appropriate delivery models we will look at how these options can be further developed to suit Māori learners in workplaces. For example, can marae or rūnanga facilities be used so that whānau working online can learn together?  
  • Many Māori enter the vocational education and training systems with skills they have already gained through paid work or other life experiences, including on their marae, or with their hapū. Working with Māori to identify those skills so the learning can be acknowledged will be part of an action to Improve the Recognition of Existing Skills.