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Discuss the Indigenous approach to business differ from traditional approaches.

Maori Economy and Business Culture

The Maori is the indigene in New Zealand and their role in the New Zealand business sector is becoming bigger nowadays. According to the report of Business and Economic Research Ltd in 2013, the economy of the Maori is approximately $ 42.6 billion. And they contributed $ 1.8 billion in primary sector to GDP. It is about 16% (Te Puni Kokiri, 2013).

Also, Maori business culture shows some insight for sustainable business development such as dealing with customer and client as a family, preserving cultural legacy and environment (WixonKarl, 2017).

So, regarding differences between indigenous approach and the traditional approach in the business sector, the comparison between Maori business approach and traditional business approach will be conducted. And, the comparison between Sanford and Moana New Zealand will be compared as an example of the differences.

According to the Ministry of Education in New Zealand, it explains the characteristics of Maori business and differences compared to traditional business. Regarding the characteristics of Maori business, it has multiple bottom lines. Performance of Maori business is judged by not only financial outcome, but also environmental, social and cultural outcomes. It means they have goals in each category and adherence to particular value and principles. Also, Maori business generally takes Risk minimization strategies to protect core assets such as land. Another characteristic of Maori business is 'collective ownership'. Basically, Maori business is owned by Iwi (Maori community) or a number of the Maori. So, dividend benefit is usually used for Maori communities, not for individuals. This characteristic distinguishes the Maori business from general business. General (traditional) business organisation is usually owned by individual or companies. due to risk minimisation strategies for protecting core asset (land), Maori companies’ dept-equity ratio is lower than non-Maori companies which adopt the traditional business approach. Also, sales of land are uncommon in the Maori companies (Ministry of Education, 2013)

To explain the characteristics of Maori business and differences from the traditional approach, Moana New Zealand and Sanford will be compared. Both companies are fishery company in New Zealand. Moana New Zealand is the Second biggest company in New Zealand, also the biggest Maori company in fishery industry in New Zealand. And Sanford is the biggest fishery company in New Zealand. This company is a non-Maori company and adopt traditional business approaches.

In terms of ownership, Moana New Zealand is owned by 58 Iwi shareholders (Moana New Zealand, 2017). And its dividend is used for supporting community-based projects and initiatives of Iwi regarding health, education or employment (Moana New Zealand, n.d.)

On the other hands, according to an annual report in 2017, Sanford has 2,000 shareholders (Sanford Ltd, 2017). And it consists of a number of companies and individual (Market Screener, n.d.). Also, the dividend of Sanford is provided to shareholders for their profit(Sanford Ltd, 2017)

In terms of dept-equity ratio, it can be found the debt-equity ratio of Moana New Zealand is lower than Sanford’s one. Dept-equity ratio of Sanford is 32.4% in 2018 (Brown Declan, 2018).

Characteristics of Indigenous Business Culture

However, the dept-equity ratio of Moana New Zealand is 24,27% (calculation based on figures in financial statement 2017) (Moana New Zealand, 2018)

In terms of core asset such as land, it can be known that Moana New Zealand hasn't sold their asset for 5 years. But it can be seen that Sanford Ltd sold their asset during 5 years as below table. Property, plant and equipment include the land, building, plant equipment and etc.. Property of Moana is increasing for 6 years, on the other hands, Sanford.

Non-current Asset (Property, plant and equipment, $ 000)

Moana New Zealand

Sanford Ltd


 $                            17,396

 $                          120,047


 $                            32,652

 $                          131,077


 $                            43,554

 $                          128,769


 $                            46,423

 $                            93,658


 $                            53,147

 $                          119,841


 $                            55,739

 $                          132,000

Source: (Moana New Zealand, 2018), (Moana New Zealand, 2015), (Moana New Zealand, 2013), (Sanford Ltd, 2017), (Sanford Ltd, 2015)

Language as a barrier: The Maori use their own language. Also, their own slang, and accent. Usually, you say the ‘’pepeha’’ which tell the others your identity. We learning to study some words and sentences that can start communication with them.  Maoris feel proud of their language so to establish a relationship with them is important to communicate using some words of M?ori language. It is an essential expression and cover of M?ori culture, important for M?ori in maintaining their pride and identity as a people(New zealand Goverment, 2018). In the actuality, they also speak English but they prefer to use their own language. Whit the group members we can communicate by English, for understanding each other we use this tool but in the Marae, visit they teach us to feel proud of our own language so if we say some words or we sing in our language they are going to feel comfortable.

Vision and role of women in the community

As well as all cultures, Maori have created specific roles by gender, are accepted socially and are still practiced. In this culture women can’t fight in the war, perform a war dance or have facial tattoos all over the face, but women are attributed a sacred gift given their ability to motherhood and procreation of new members in the tribe (child birthing abilities). Women were considered sacred because they were able to raise children whereas the male Maori would often lose their lives during disputes leaving the women to care for the younglings(Valadez, 2015)(Stearns, 2013). On the other hand, males played a very important role in hunting and defending the land(Valadez, 2015).

In this culture only the women were allowed to open the space for meetings, to receive the guests with songs, dances, and narrations (oral tradition). Women are willing to take care of the family and differently from western societies (like our 4 cultures) men also participate in the process of cooking. (Stearns, 2013). It is documented that women had more privileges and rights in this civilization than in other tribes of past times (Stearns, 2013).

As mentioned earlier in our cultures (Korea, Colombia, Vietnam, and India), women take a role within the home. In the Asian countries are where the role of women is most strict, due to cultural changes, as well as to the openness to Western ideology, the same role has been gradually transformed. In general, in Asian cultures and some in South America, women were always seen as "procreating sons", with the intention that the patriarchal lineage prevailed. 

Comparison of Moana New Zealand and Sanford

The Maori society has changed after its encounter with European colonizers, but in the past, they had three sociable ranks: the rangatira or k?hui-ariki (leaders), t?t?? (commoners), and taurekareka or m?kai (slaves). The leaders or ranfatira were descendants of founding ancestors, the highest rank was the firstborn (man or woman) of the past leaders.(Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 2018).

From the general body of gentry could be distinguished the leading chiefs (ariki), senior by descent from the original ancestors of the tribe.  The social relations between free members were with less formality, the lower rack usually can call the superiors by their personal name, just in the case of the ‘ariki’ they behave differently. In short, the leadership of traditional society was based on age and seniority always by blood ranges (McLintock, 2018).

As we know the Asian region is influenced by the Confucian theory, in general people respect the hierarchical in life by the age, in this culture the older is most important and ways of communication depend on the rank of the person. Also, they pay attention to sex, usually men have more power in the decision making. In western civilization, older people are naturally perceived as being wise and as a result, they are given great respect but also is not for blood the leadership is about how more power has, leaders are the ones with highest positions in government, economic power and higher position. In all these countries is respected the older, and the man has more power of decision making. 

Music and dancing in tradition 

For the Maori, the songs are a vital role, they are called WaiataTawhito. These show us stories of the ancestors, laments for losses, calls to a lover, stories of love or births of an important child. These songs are still popular within the community, they are usually used for children's education. The way they pass their story is through the heritage of songs, dances, and architecture of their meeting house (wharenui)(Higgins & Loader, 2014).

The dances, Haika, are a subclass of waiata, was used as a tool of force and confrontation in times of war. There are variations used for ceremonies and welcomes (Higgins & Loader, 2014).

Almost all the countries express by the arts their culture, but for each one has different meanings. Vietnam is famous for their diverse use of the instruments and music genders(ASIA-EUROPE FOUNDATION (ASEF) , 2011), Colombia has a huge diversity, the rhythm and dance is a means of expression of the past histories and some talk about the colonization, the Korean use the songs often of collective expression of the community most for farmers, and in India the music and dance is related to religion(enotes, 2010).

Traditionally the garments used by Maori are made from native plants, animal skins, and birds. The style used represented the hierarchy within the group. These garments are made with weaving techniques by hand, this tradition is transmitted within families by women(Tamarapa & Wallace, 2013).

The stile and use of materials are different between countries, like the Maori culture Colombians used to make hand-knitted and also was a tradition transmitted by families, the use of colourful and wide skirts. In Korea, they use traditional clothes like the long skirt, doesn’t matter the colour but usually one colour stands out, is similar in Vietnam but they use more often, at least 1 time per week in the school, and also in important festivities. India has the traditional and poplar dress call sari; the colour and texture depend on ethnicity and occasion. Generally red is used in important weddings or festivals.

Intercultural Issues Encountered on a Marae Visit

The meeting place for the Maoris is called marae, it is a place enclosed with carved buildings that belong to the family, and it is used for meetings, celebrations, funerals, educational workshops, and important events.The most important of the buildings within the marae is the whale or carved meeting house. A Wharenui resembles the human body in structure and usually represents a particular ancestor of the tribe(100% Pure New Zealand, 2018).

In the visit, we evidence that you should take off the shoes for going inside, no footwear is to be worn inside the Wharenui, similar than in Asian cultures and very odd for South American cultures (rude behaviour in Colombia). Also, woman has a specific place to sit down, always in the last part of the rooms. Is important don’t enter food and water. Just if is a present to them. Also, you are just allowed to enter if you were invited. Use appropriate clothing, in this case, woman with skirts.

Non-verbal communication:

The most notorious from the local communication is the “Hongi’’, is the Maori welcome, it is done by pressing one’s forehead and nose against that of the person they are greeting, bringing the two closes together. For them this meaning the sharing of the breath. For the cultures where the large personal space is important can be unfamiliar and sometimes shocking, more tactile cultures like Colombian can be more comfortable with this behaviour (Rutherford, 2013). 


Is common see Maori with a lot of tattoos, males were allowed to have full facial tattoos, the more tattoos a male had the higher the rank that male was. Women in the opposite way than men can’t have full faced tattoos. Their tattoos were done at their chin and remained lower than the lips. Just like men, the more tattoos, the ranker they could have(Valadez, 2015). For the western cultures this can be shocking, Asians are very careful with the skin, and try to maintain without any spot, and very clear. For Colombians, the use of tattoos is more usual but is still odd if it is in the face.

Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, who first discovered and first lived here. After a long period of fighting with the British Crown over territory, Maori people have been granted national ownership(New Zealand Tourism, n.d). Therefore, Maori alwaysemphasize unity, resilience, environmental and social responsibility. This culture is very impressive and special; however, this has some conflict between them and our culture. On a trip to visit Marae, we can learn and have more understanding of their culture. Since then, we have realized the conflict in the differences cultural between Maori and us.

View of society is the core element for the differences between indigenous and Western cultures. For the indigenous culture, they live on spiritual oriented way. They believe in the experience and community lifestyle are more important than the law or personal interests. They believe in the sharing of benefits and living for people around them are more important things than themselves. Meanwhile, the traditional Western world tends to defend the views, life, and personal interests. They settle based on the evidence and the law. They featured in compliance with the law rather than the relationship between people and people(Indigenous Corporate Training Inc, 2016). Marae trip helped us have a chance to reach deeper cultural Maori indigenous people as well as approach their business. These materials and the information below will show more clearly our sense of the cultural conflict that we have experienced:

The Language: In New Zealand, the main language used here is English. However, Maori still use their native language in daily communication. Students in the kindergarten, elementary school will be taught how to communicate with Maori. They are the best way to help preserve and develop the cultural identity of the people. They cherish the beauty of their language and uphold the proud communication in that language.(Ministry of Education, n.d)

The ancestor:Maori culture attaches great importance to history as well as to their ancestors. They learn and teach people how to live like their ancestors. They appreciate this and always remember the past. This is contrary to the way of life today. We often only known to the people around us as grandparents, parents, siblings or friends. However, we do not know too much about our ancestors. We also tend to live for the future and not too much about the past. Examples as home decoration, we preferred the modern design, simplicity, and elegance. However, with the Maori, they like to decorate the house with images of the gods. They feel safe and proud of it. (Ministry for Cultural & Heritage, n.d)

The women:Women are highly regardedin the lives of the Maori culture. They believe that women bring the life. Therefore, in the conversation and communication, the man would have stood out to take charge of this task. This shows that they are always ready to protect the woman away from the danger. However, in our culture, fairness between men and women is essential. We believe that the responsibility for the daily work of men, women also can do it. For example, during a meeting of the Maori, the woman will have to sit behind the men. However, today's culture with our particular and the West, women can sit on a par with men.(, 2013)

The land: M?ori appreciate and protect nature here. They respect and gratitude to the land helped them survive and get a good life now. Therefore, they are very conscious and responsibility in protecting land and habitat. Maori often restrict the exploitation and destruction of the environment for the benefit only individuals or businesses. In the meantime, today's traditional businesses often put people's interests above that. We exploit and use that resource. However, Maori are not. They have a festival called 'rahui' means protecting life. In any case, the sea or forest being exploited too much, Rahui will be applied in that area. Meaning that they will restrict, prohibit exploitation of natural resources there in a while. They believe, 'rahui' may help for that region have been restored time and better protection.


In conclusion, the contribution of the Maori in New Zealand’s business sector is increasingly becoming significant with their 2013 economic contribution being approximated at $ 42.6 billion. Their business culture is characterised by environmental and cultural legacy preservation as well as dealing with clients effectively. The performance Maori’s business is judged on multiple parameters including cultural, social, environmental and financial outcomes. They therefore have a role to adhere to these principles. In addition the Maori businesses are collectively owned by either a number of Maori’s or the Maori community. This means that the dividends from these businesses are used to promote the interests of the community. There is also the little sale of land among businesses owned by the Maori. These businesses also use traditional business approach. Apart from these distinctive features, the Maori businesses also have a lower debt-equity ratio compared to other businesses. A number of intercultural issues were evident during my visit. These include language barrier and gender Stratification. Basically, the Maori prefer to use their local language, accent and slang to communicate. Although they speak English, preference is put on their own language. The Maori also have different roles for different genders which are accepted by the wider group for example women are responsible for taking care of their families and not allowed to take part in any war activities including having facial tattoos, fighting or taking part in the war dance. Males defend the Maori’s land and take part in hunting. The hierarchy among the community was divided into three levels, the leaders, commoners and slaves. This has however changed since the encounter of the Maori with the European traditionally. Traditionally, interactions among the Maori’s at different levels were with less formality. Songs and dances are of main significance among the Maori community. While songs were used to express many aspects of the community such as significant births and stories about ancestors, dances were used during war. Traditionally the garments used by Maori are made from native plants, animal skins, and birds.Tattoos are also common among the Maori’s with only males allowed to have full facial tattoos, the higher the rank the more the tattoos. They attach much significance to their language as a way of preserving the Maori’s cultural identity. They also highly regard their women and believe that they bring life. Finally, the Maori show so much gratitude towards their land by protecting it; they perceive it as their responsibility to protect the land and natural habitats.

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