Māori businesses now able to identify themselves on NZBN register

Information on the contributions of Māori business to the New Zealand economy has historically been scarce and hard to collect and quantify. This is now a possibility as this information will be collected about companies and trading enterprises with the data added to the NZBN register of Primary Business Data.

This project was announced in October 2020 by Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash, and was launched in May, 2021.

“In 2013 BERL estimated that the Māori economy was valued at approximately $42 billion and that more than 70% of the Māori economy was made up of sole traders and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“There is a lack of official data relating to Māori businesses and their contribution to the economy. One of the key challenges is being able to reliably identify Māori businesses. An identifier for Māori businesses in the NZBN Register will help to rectify this.

“Māori economic development is a priority for Government. The value of Māori economic activity is also recognised in the Crown–Māori Economic Growth Partnership Strategy He kai kei aku ringa,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“The change will allow for more accurate measurement of Māori economic activity, make it easier for investment or collaboration with Māori businesses, and better measure the effectiveness of government policies for Māori economic development.

“It could take up to two years for the system to be fully functional and for businesses to update their information, as the process is voluntary,” said Mr Nash when announcing the new project.

 “Māori businesses will have a check-box field to complete on the digital NZBN register. To ensure consistency with other agencies, such as Statistics NZ, businesses will be able to self-identify as a Māori business based on a number of factors.

“The factors which might influence their decision to identify as a Māori business could include ownership and directorship, staff members, philosophy and tikanga, management practices, branding and marketing, tangible assets such as land or fishing rights, or intangible assets like kaupapa Māori or cultural property.

“As the economy continues to pick up momentum following the impact of COVID19, we will be able to track how Māori businesses are responding too. The impact of COVID has been uneven across sectors, and I expect we will see similar results for Māori enterprises.

 “The NZBN register includes all types of businesses, such as sole traders and the self-employed, trusts, contractors, tradespeople, partnerships, limited liability companies and also public sector agencies,” said Stuart Nash.

A variety of agencies have been working on this project with NZBN for the past year(s) including Treasury, MBIE, StatsNZ, Te Puni Kōkiri, Inland Revenue, NZ Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry for Primary Industries. In addition, these agencies have been working alongside the leaders of New Zealand Māori Tourism, Federation of Māori Authorities, Poutama and the Māori Women’s Development Inc.

Traci Houpapa, Chair of FOMA, the Federation of Māori Authorities noted that “It has been great to see government listen to our issues and suggestions and to see tangible results. There is more work to do but we can finally start to see a solution to the lack of data on Māori economic activity.”

“It has always been difficult to understand the issues and needs of Māori SMEs.  Collecting data on who they are and what they provide will help us to understand how we can support those businesses” said Pania Tyson-Nathan, CEO of NZ Māori Tourism.

Business operators are encouraged to keep their NZBN data up to date and made publicly available, as the more information that is gathered, the more clarity there will be about the size and contribution of the Māori economy to New Zealand.

Incorporated entities are automatically assigned an NZBN at the time of their registration with the New Zealand Companies Office, while sole traders need to create one on the NZBN website. The process is fast and simple, and contains a variety of benefits for any New Zealand business.

As more businesses add this information to their NZBN profiles, it will be fascinating to see the true picture of the size and contribution of the Māori economy develop, as well as see better engagement, resources and programmes to help grow New Zealand for all.

Related information

Learn about the Māori Business Identifier

Read the 'Māori Business Identifier goes live' news item(external link)
Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment website