CAPE Māori business scholars find opportunities in Taipei

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The six recipients of the first North Asia CAPE Māori Business Scholarships.

“If we really want to be in a position to empower and strengthen our economic base, we need to leverage our connections with international peoples," says Nathaniel Howe, one of six recipients of the first North Asia CAPE Māori Business Scholarships.

The scholarships involved a trip to Taipei City where the students spent three weeks in early 2018 at the respected National Taiwan University (NTU).

While there, they studied  Mandarin, established business networks and explored the many cultural, historical and linguistic links between Māori and the indigenous people of Taiwan.

In common with the group, Nathaniel (Ngāti Wai, Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Ngai Tahu), particularly wanted to identify opportunities to expand business and entrepreneurial ties with Taipei, and his efforts have already paid off. As the manager of Maimoa Music, he's well known for his commitment to producing original, contemporary Te Reo music. He and his band have now been invited to return to Taipei later this year for an indigenous music festival, where he hopes not only to perform but also to explore how what's happening in New Zealand can become a template for rebuilding the Taiwanese indigenous languages.

“Cultural advantage is a competitive advantage in business,” says Nathaniel. “As Māori, we are recognised leaders in the realm of language revitalisation. We can share our skills, strategies, and experiences as models for others facing the same challenges.”

He's also identified a raft of potential business opportunities in Taipei. He was surprised to discover that almost every convenience store in Taipei stocks kumara and given how good Māori are at cultivating it, he's already thinking about how this could turn into a business opportunity.

Another recipient, Sada Charlie (Waikato and Cook Islander), says her work as a policy analyst at Te Puni Kokiri has taken a new direction thanks to her experience in Taipei, with greater focus on international policy development and engagement. Ihipera Rimene-Sproat (Ngāti Kahungunu, Rangitāne, Ngāi Tahu) has committed to continuing her Mandarin courses here at the University, where she is completing a postgraduate diploma in Economic Business Policy and Te Karamihi o te aroha Harawira (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tai, Ngāi-te-rang) says her dream is to manage a hotel chain. She has already been offered a role in the hotel industry in Taipei.

Tyson Haeora Grootjans (Tūhoe) is determined to combine his skills as a commercial analyst and his masters in Indigenous Politics to help further international indigenous solidarity and Fiona Johnson-Bell (Tainui) is using her scholarship experiences to help the development of a national indigenous student mobility strategy for New Zealand university students.


About the North Ascia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence

  • The North Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPE) is committed to building strong and enduring economic and cultural relationships between New Zealand and China, Japan, and Korea. 
  • It is led by the University of Auckland in partnership with the University of Otago, the University of Waikato, and Victoria University of Wellington.


Watch the Māori Business Scholars video, listen to their radio interviews, and learn more about the North Asia CAPE on the North Asia CAPE website.