Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

Senior Secondary navigation


You are here:

Māori culture and values in business

"Many Māori organisations have multiple purposes. This means that they are not set up just to make a profit. Many have to balance being financially viable with the social and cultural aspirations of the owners as their core purposes. Although the organisations may trade commercially and measure themselves against economic indicators, wealth creation is not seen as an end in itself."


Māori businesses will incorporate some or all of the concepts and principles discussed in this section into their business approaches, policies, and practices.

Te kaupapa pakihi: The foundations of business

This concept refers to fundamentals that apply across the range of business domains, whether the enterprise is small, medium, or large; mainstream or Māori focused; a social, community, or profit driven venture.

These fundamentals include:

See also:

Pūtake: The origin or reason for being

Every business has a reason for being. Many Māori businesses exist for the same reason as other businesses; that is, they are there to provide goods or services at a profit and to enrich the business owner(s). A significant number, however, have very different reasons for being – reasons that are associated with collectively-owned resources (such as land, tribal estates) and/or whakapapa-based groupings, such as whānau, hapū and iwi. Such businesses can encounter legal, cultural, and business complexities that are not experienced by mainstream businesses.

A Māori business may initially be formed to hold, manage, develop, and/or grow profit from Māori resources such as people (for example, youth or older people or whānau, hapū, or iwi groups), land, water (lakes, rivers), farms, forestry, or other collectively owned resources. Later, other entities such as companies or trusts may be created to manage and grow specific ventures under the umbrella of the original business or entity.

Many Māori businesses focus on a 'multiple bottom line', where social, cultural, environmental, spiritual, and economic goals are identified in mission statements and annual reports alongside profit-related goals and reporting and incorporated into everyday business operations.

Some Māori businesses are formed to provide an avenue for cultural expression and/or to foster pride and maintain Māori culture, language, and arts. Such enterprises may relate, for example, to tourism, Māori arts and crafts, design, clothing, or kaupapa Māori/Māori-focused education, music, or performing arts.

While such enterprises may look for profit so as to be self-sustaining, social or cultural goals are central to their existence. Research from Te Puni Kokiri (Ministry of Māori Development) indicates that the Māori 'brand' is also advantageous in the global marketplace.

Tūranga: The positioning/anchor of the business

Some Māori businesses make use of structures that are available to all businesses (for example, limited liability company, partnership, sole trader, trust or charitable trust). But businesses formed around collectively owned assets may be subject to specific laws that govern their operations.

“In setting up and selecting the type of legal structure for an organisation, it is important to clearly know the intended purpose of that structure. For example, if Māori land is the core asset, because this land will never be sold, for either legal or tikanga reasons, the organisation will not be able to make trading decisions following usual commercial models. This can make running a Māori organisation particularly challenging.”


Tikanga: Values, rules, priorities, and ways of doing business

Many Māori businesses operate by a set of values that sets them apart from other businesses, particularly businesses that operate solely to produce a profit for the owners/shareholders. These values include:

Ngā matatini Māori: Māori diversity

This principle acknowledges the wide range of ways in which Māori may or may not express their identity as Māori in connection with business.

Kotahitanga: Māori unity, shared sense of belonging

This principle refers to decisions made by Māori to identify and work as Māori in association with Māori for the benefit of Māori development.

Tino rangatiratanga: Self-determination, ownership, control

This principle relates to self-determination, control and ownership, whether personal or by whānau, hapū, iwi, or collective. Can be a motivational element in business.

Whanaungatanga: An ethic of belonging, kinship

This principle acknowledges the importance of networks and relationships and, therefore, of developing, managing, and sustaining relationships. It involves caring for and working harmoniously with others to achieve common goals using relational strategies such as tuakana-teina. Whanaungatanga is expressed in a variety of ways in business settings; for example: culture, whānau-model systems and structures, support for and employment of whānau, use of whānau networks, and whānau support for the business. A downside is that a sense of obligation to whānau, and whānau expectations, can create problems for a business.

Kaitiakitanga: Guardianship of natural resources

This principle is about responsible environmental management and sustainable enterprise. It includes the taking care of assets for future generations, as opposed to ownership and the right to divest assets.

Wairuatanga: Spirituality

Attention and resources are committed to ensuring that spiritual protocols are observed, for example, in the construction and openings of new buildings, in everyday functioning within the organisation, and in relationships with others. The services of kaumātua and/or tohunga may be engaged to guide the spiritual operation of the organisation.

Manaakitanga: Hospitality, generosity, care, and giving

A group or organisation should be able to host and provide for people appropriately. Resources must be allocated for this purpose. Hosting may involve large groups of owners and visitors. Whānau may be expected to support this function.

Tuhono: Cross-sectoral alignment of Māori aspirations on all dimensions

This principle supports the holistic or 'multiple bottom line' approach: profit-related and socially-oriented goals can be intertwined.

Puawaitanga: The best possible return is sought on integrated goals

This principle supports the measurement of success against multiple outcomes, including, but not just, financial outcomes.

Purotu: Multiple responsibilities and levels of accountability

This principle emphasises the responsibilities and accountabilities that Māori organisations often hold to current and future generations, wider whānau, hapū, or iwi groups – and to represent Māori well. It relates also to the particular laws and requirements of Māori organisations, particularly those managing collectively-owned assets.

“Together these common values characterise Māori self-determined development” or the necessities of Māori-centred business. Identifying cultural values important to Māori business development "means that Māori retain the ownership and control of their cultural identity and property rights" (Hinch et al., 1998, p. 4) in enterprise and industry. It also helps ensure that Māori social and cultural expectations and requirements are met in ways that are relevant to business operations (JHMRC, 1997a, p. 284).


The exercise of guardianship, particularly in relation to natural resources, such as land, sea and waterways; also flora and fauna, including people, that comprise elements of the natural environment. This principle requires that sustainability and environmental protection is valued. As kaitiaki or guardians, the owners or trustees of an enterprise are responsible for protecting (and/or growing) resources for future generations – not just for short-term or individual profit.


Exercise of leadership, authority, guardianship, and ownership rights; particularly focused on resource production, utilisation, and management for current and future requirements. This includes strategic development and oversight, relationship development and maintenance, problem-solving, conflict resolution and peace-making, adaptation, risk analysis, and management.

Other important/useful business-related concepts

Associated with the fundamental concepts discussed above are a raft of concepts and principles that are broadly applicable and generalisable across the levels of the business curriculum. These “clothe” the business or venture. They include, but are not limited to:

Hangarau: technology; the proper utilisation of a range of traditional, contemporary, and innovative technologies.

Hoko: trade/trading, buy, sell, exchange, commerce.

Mana: prestige, standing, integrity, recognition; maintaining one’s own mana and that of the group and recognising and respecting the mana of others.

Penapena rawa: resource management.

Putea: finance, funds; ensuring financial accountability and proper accounting practices are followed.

Rawa: goods, property, wealth, chattels, resource; ensuring proper asset management.

Te ngira tuitui: entrepreneurship; entrepreneurial action, endeavour, and creation.

Umanga papatahi: the beginnings or first stages of a business or venture; enterprise creation.

Utu, whakautu: reciprocity, payment, cost; ensuring that costs are clear, covered and recovered to provide for a sustainable enterprise. Includes tax compliance.

Whakaukangia: sustainability, including the recognition and use of ecological values and methodologies.

Whakawhiti whakaaro: an entrepreneurial mindset, innovative thinking.

Ngā wāhanga: specific elements

Te taki i te ikeiketanga: self-empowerment

Te kaipakihi me ona whanaketanga: business knowledge and development

Te whakawhanuitanga pukenga: skill assessment, career exploration

Te hiringatanga matauranga: accountability for learning

Te hoko, a utu: buying and investing

Marua whakapuakitanga: community awareness, problem-solving

Te whakahoahoa, nga kaiarataki: friendships, mentors

Te whakatu pakihitanga: business formation

Te ara tipuranga, a mahi: career development

Te hekenga matauranga: educational attainment

Te whanonga putea: financial literacy

Te whanaketanga a marua: community development

Whanaungatanga a whakahaere: relationship management.

See also:

Last updated October 3, 2022