Speech to the ABAC Indigenous Business Leaders’ Dialogue

ABAC Indigenous Business Leaders’ Dialogue   

7 July 2021

Kei ngā tētēkura, nā koutou ngā ngaru whatiwhati wāhi, e eke ai tō tātau waka, nō reira ka mihi ake ra ki a koutou.  Koutou i hapai nei ngā uara, ngā mātāpono ngākaunui ki a ngāi tatou ngā iwi taketake, nei ka mihi.

No reira, e te tī, e te tā, ngā kaitiaki o te ao pakihi, o te ahurea tuakiri, Manawatia mai a Matariki!

[To our many leaders [figureheads] who navigated communities through the turbulent waves of recent times, I greet you.  You have upheld the values, principles and compassion treasured by many indigenous peoples across the world. 

To people from all directions, guardians of business and trade, bastions for cultural identity, let us welcome and celebrate Matariki together.]

Introduction

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Indigenous business leaders here today, and recognise the importance of valuing Indigenous business voices in the Asia Pacific.

I also want to acknowledge and congratulate the United States Secretary of the Interior, Debra Haaland. We are both the first Indigenous women in our respective portfolios. We have much to share in experience and as advocates for the recognition and inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in our work.

I have often made comment about how we can draw on our unique experience to bring Indigenous relationships and values to the fore of foreign policy, business and trade. This is easier said than done for many, but it is a pathway to greater social inclusion, democratic participation and economic contribution. It shows a way in which a society can evolve.

New Zealanders’ understanding of our unique and independent identity has grown, as well as our sense of responsibility. We offer an approach to dialogue on regional and global priorities, which is born from a cultural perspective – from our “tirohanga Maori” – or a Māori world view.

This is also true for Indigenous Peoples throughout the Asia-Pacific region. By contributing our unique worldview to APEC 2021 our perspective can deliver impact. I am heartened to see that the APEC Business Advisory Council, under the leadership of Chair Rachel Taulelei, recognises the importance of this work.

Indigenous inclusion in APEC 2021

Māori have long participated in trading and New Zealand has always been a trading nation. Our location in the Pacific requires us to be constantly vigilant to challenges and opportunities as we seek to engage in a range of trade agreements.

Our commitment to free trade and open markets is reflected in our hosting of APEC this year. The APEC region represents around half of all global trade. For decades APEC has supported our region to become the most economically dynamic in the world, lifting around a billion people out of poverty.

We know that an inclusive recovery will be a more resilient recovery. Similarly, a sustainable economy will be more resilient to shocks and better placed to respond to climate change. Advancing Indigenous inclusion is more important than ever because of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous communities and businesses, and the need to aid Indigenous economic recovery.

“Poipoia te kakano, kia tipu” – nurture the seed and it will grow. Our efforts to see Indigenous issues included on the APEC agenda can be likened to planting a seed and we are using our host year to progress this dialogue. Recognising that economies are at very different places when it comes to working with their Indigenous peoples, it is my hope that we can work to increase the number of Indigenous voices in APEC.

While Indigenous economic inclusion is a topic of greater interest to some APEC members than others, I am committed to a consistent and predictable approach, through diplomacy and dialogue.

We are beginning to see promising signals. In March, we hosted an Indigenous-focused Policy Dialogue to explore how economies are measuring and valuing their Indigenous economies.

We want to build on this by looking into the impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous Peoples across the region and the role data plays in understanding those impacts.

Alongside APEC, I look forward to the launch of an Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement with interested APEC economies to enable greater trade and economic collaboration activities. This formalises the many connections we all have through our shared whakapapa ­– shared genealogy and whanaungatanga – kinship and connection.

Our aim through all of these activities, and a significant part of the legacy we want to leave within APEC, is to connect Indigenous Peoples and to embed consideration of Indigenous impacts and values across the APEC policy agenda. This will be a new dimension to the regional architecture.

Indigenous Business Leaders and Statement of Priorities

In gathering here today, we recognise our great diversity but also acknowledge that many of the challenges and barriers Indigenous businesses face are shared as a result of historical and contemporary structural inequalities.

Against such inequalities, Indigenous Peoples have still strived to maintain their knowledge systems and know-how in ways that can significantly benefit the Asia-Pacific region’s commitment to a sustainable and inclusive recovery.

To this end, I see a real and meaningful role for Indigenous business leaders to drive and elevate our ambition. As leaders of Indigenous communities in your respective economies your voice counts.

As a key influencing platform, the voice of Indigenous business leaders in ABAC can play a significant role in directing our economy leaders to accord priority to Indigenous inclusion, which in turn benefits us all.

I see the Statement of Priorities and its recommendations as a key mechanism through which this can be achieved. In particular, I am drawn to the theme of partnership as an enabler to advance meaningful inclusion.

APEC economy leaders need to work in partnership with Indigenous business leaders. Partnership is the key ingredient by which we can achieve our desired outcomes of economic inclusion.

By working together we can stimulate greater business growth, address infrastructure needs of Indigenous communities and improve data management of the Indigenous business sector. We can also look at opportunities to increase benefits from existing regional and multilateral trade rules. And over time develope rules akin to our indigenous values and trade preferences.

I will leave you with a well-known Māori proverb that emphasises the importance of working collaboratively together.

Ehara taku toa, i te toa takitahi, Engari he toa takitini –

My success is not from the work of one, but from the work of many.

ENDS