Māori tribe leader: look after the environment and ‘great business’ will follow

Māori tribe leader: look after the environment and ‘great business’ will follow

DUBAI, 15 November 2021 – Protecting the natural world is good for business, with indigenous approaches to trade and commerce offering lessons for the rest of the world, believes the leader of one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest Māori’s tribes.

“We like to know the genealogy and the history of the people we are trading with,” Ngahiwi Tomoana, leader of Māori tribe (iwi) Ngāti Kahungunu and Chair of the National Iwi Chairs Forum, said after an event at the New Zealand Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai on Monday, 15 November.

“There’s a resonance with the Emiratis – it’s a resonance with all indigenous peoples around the world,” he added.

“This essentially gets suppressed when you talk about Wall Street-type of business. Yet we have much to contribute to the economics of the world and uplifting people and environments. Part of that cultural message is that a [good] natural environment is good for business.”

Māori tribe leader: look after the environment and ‘great business’ will follow

His comments came as Aotearoa New Zealand, together with international indigenous and tribal peoples, prepares to host ‘Te Aratini, a Festival of Indigenous & Tribal Ideas’ at Dubai Exhibition Centre from 17-19 November during Expo’s Tolerance & Inclusivity Week, which kicked off on Sunday.

Curated by Māori leaders in partnership with the New Zealand government, the three-day event will be a movement towards greater inclusion and acceptance of indigenous peoples’ knowledge systems and practical know-how across various existing and emerging trade and economic policies.

Tomoana added: “Part of that cultural message is that a good [natural] environment is good for business. At the moment, most economics is about extracting things from the environment without replacing them. We say ‘if you look after the environment first, great business will [follow]’. And that’s what we bring together as indigenous people from around the world – it seems to be a common theme and resonance.”

DUBAI, 15 November 2021. Te Aratini Indigenous Groups Showcase on Jubilee Stage, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Miaad Mahdi/Expo 2020 Dubai)

Led by the National Iwi Chairs Forum, a coalition of independent iwi (tribal) chairs, Te Aratini marks a culturally significant moment as the first indigenous festival in the history of World Expos.

New Zealand has collaborated with other nations to deliver the event, including the UAE, Australia, Canada, the United States, Malaysia, Paraguay, and Panama.

‘Care for People and Place’, the theme of the New Zealand Pavilion at Expo 2020, is inspired by the Māori environmental ethos of kaitiakitanga, and the understanding that humans and nature are inextricably connected – a deep belief that humans have a responsibility to care and protect the land, sky and water and that nature will, in turn, provide and care for humans to sustain and safeguard a future for all.