4 Oct 2020

Auckland firm generates $45 million for Māori and Pasifika-owned businesses

11:59 am on 4 October 2020

An Auckland company helping indigenous businesses get local government contracts has generated $45 million and over 300 jobs for local Māori and Pasifika-owned construction and trades in the last year.

The construction industry has boosted the economy and employment rates

Amotai has generated $45m for Māori and Pasifika-owned construction businesses and trades in the last year. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

As the first intermediary of its kind in Aotearoa, Amotai works with the public sector to help Māori and Pasifika-owned businesses win work, and in the last 12 months, they have helped create $45m worth of contracts for Māori and Pasifika members.

"We looked across the world, knew about supply diversity which is a procurement tactic which enables more minority-owned businesses into large buyer supplier changes and started to look for opportunities to do that in Auckland," Amotai co-founder Anna-Jane Edwards said.

She said their first big contract was with Auckland Transport in February last year, which put supply diversity clauses into their procurement requests.

"They've spent $1.5m of that contract with Māori and Pasifika businesses to date, but overall, we've created $45m worth of work for Māori and Pasifika businesses that are connected to us."

Amotai works with 400 different Māori and Pasifika businesses, ranging in size from singularly self-employed workers to companies with 300 staff, and they are primarily in construction and allied trades like electricians, surveyors, and plumbers.

Businesses need to be at least 50 percent owned by a Māori or Pacific person to be able to work with Amotai.

Edwards said supply diversity not only benefits the businesses but the entire community.

One of the first businesses they worked with, infrastructure company Trow Group, worked on a project to better deal with the waste leftover from the building and construction industry, most of which goes directly to landfill.

Trow Group got the $40,000 contract to deconstruct a council building in Kingsland.

"What they did was they redistributed most of those materials to different community groups across Auckland including Te Puea Marae that benefited from a second kitchen, an air conditioning unit, in a time when they were doing a whole heap of stuff for people experiencing homelessness in Auckland.

"And that's the sort of thing Māori and Pasifika businesses that are part of our whānau are doing, they're going above and beyond and adding value far beyond just the delivery of the service that they've been contracted to do."

She said the government injection into infrastructure, through the shovel ready projects, has seen a huge uptake in work for their members - and she said there was increasing interest from private sector groups into the procurement model.

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