16 Oct 2018

Māori seen as key to boosting Pasifika biz numbers

10:05 am on 16 October 2018

A Pasifika business leader says collaboration with Māori is key to boosting his community's activity in New Zealand's private sector.

Paul Retimanu from the Wellington Pasifika Business Network said currently only about 1.6 percent of Pacific people run their own business.

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Photo: RNZ Pacific / Koro Vaka'uta

He said the figures for Māori stood at close to 12 percent.

Mr Retimanu said his group worked closely with Te Awe, the oldest Māori Business Network in New Zealand.

He said this was because cultural and historial links between Māori and Pasifika needed to be drawn on and used to promote business participation.

"That whole collaboration between Māori and Pasifika is so strong here," he said.

"One thing I must say is what we have identified is for Pasifika and Māori, we have a lot that we can learn from them and collaborate and I think they can take us to where we need to get to a lot faster."

Paul Retimanu said he believed Pasifika business ownership was probably higher than 1.6 percent but his community were usually reluctant to draw attention to themselves so identification was hard.

Wellington Pasifika Business Network Chairman, Paul Retimanu

Wellington Pasifika Business Network Chairman, Paul Retimanu Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

Community leader Dame Luamanuvao Winnie Laban said Pasifika needed to aim high in whatever they did.

"More importantly, to aim to own a business, to be your own boss, to be the entrepreneur, to be the innovator. We have a fast growing youth population in New Zealand and it's important that they see role models. They can learn from that and they can aspire for that."

One such example is Arti Chand, the tax solicitor who won Pasifika Businesswoman of the Year at last week's awards night, run by the network.

Arti Chand accepts the Pasifika Businesswoman of the Year Award

Arti Chand accepts the Pasifika Businesswoman of the Year Award Photo: RNZ Pacific / Koro Vaka'uta

She agreed that celebrating achievement was a necessity.

"We need to do that, not just because of us but because we need to inspire our young people who are getting into business, who have ideas, they need to see Pasifika role models who are running and operating their own businesses."

Joe Fiu runs Toki Services alongside former professional rugby player Jacob Ellison.

Their company, which includes training facilities and sports tourism was recognised as a rising star.

"Rugby academies, coaching clinics, upskilling players and coaches and the tourism side is we bring over rugby teams, we bring over students, we bring over, just using rugby and sport to bring people to New Zealand so we can show them around the area and what we do here."

Mr Fiu said providing services came naturally to Pasifika.

"Dine New Zealand, Ms Tiatia there, she's just won an award for an academy that trains up Pasifika people to go into the workforce. You know the funny thing is, that's the best idea, because we do feaus, which is doing stuff for our families all the time. So we are just using that skillset and then putting it into business. I think it's in our DNA, we just don't realise it."

Toki Services' Joe Fiu accepts the Rising Star Business Award

Toki Services' Joe Fiu accepts the Rising Star Business Award Photo: RNZ Pacific / Koro Vaka'uta

James Fruean owns and operates Wellington Pipelines and he received the Established Business Award, and his advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to do something they are passionate about.

"I enjoy working with machinery. I enjoy working with my hands, outside, you can't beat it. The secret to my success and if I can encourage other people to try a similar line, look at what you are doing, make sure it is what you want to do and make sure you enjoy it."

Mr Fruean said it was risky launching his business at just 25, but he and others in the community have shown it can be done.

"We as a people, we as a community, as individuals, we can represent, we can achieve things and we can especially set examples for others."

Tattoo and Barber company Taupou Tatau, hospitality trainers Dine Academy and electronic security providers Circuit Systems were also recognised at the Wellington Pasifika Business Network Awards while the women's advocacy group, PACIFICA Inc., was given a special award for their national contribution to the community.