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Massey University Wellington Senior Lecturer Dr Jason Mika on Paakiwaha
Dr Jason Mika - Photo courtesy of Massey University Wellington

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Dr Jason Mika on Paakiwaha

Knowledge gap between Māori and Asian cultures restricting opportunity for Māori business -

Massey University Wellington Senior Lecturer Dr Jason Mika says a lack of understanding of the Asian market is causing lost opportunity for Māori businesses.

Dr Mika is responding to an Asia New Zealand Foundation report published this month, which found that though there was a strong perceived connection between Māori and Asian cultures, it is not being reflected in opportunities for Māori business.

Dr Jason Mika says that the report, based on a survey of 1400 people, offers useful insight into how Māori may engage with Asian people, countries and cultures but falls short of identifying how perceived cultural similarities could influence business between Māori and Asian communities.

“The report suggests there is potential for MaÌ„ori to do more business with Asia, but that we’re largely under-prepared for this in terms of knowledge and understanding on culture, language and relationships with Asia. There is also a sense that business and trade relationships might not be as mutually beneficial as they could be,” Dr Mika says.

Māori businesses should be seeking mentorship opportunities from others with current or prior experience in Asia and undertaking formalised training, he says. He suggests that New Zealand expand trade delegations and exchanges with Māori enterprises, citing the Te Ohu Kaimoana scholarship with Nissui in Japan as an example of this.

“The report does not ask MaÌ„ori entrepreneurs and business owners about their experience and perception of Asia and doing business in Asia. In order to better understand how cultural similarity and differences influence business and trade between MaÌ„ori and Asian communities, we should specifically study this.”

Dr Mika also notes that there is a general inclination for participants to assume that China is representative of all Asia. He says that despite the opportunity presented by the perceived cultural connection, Māori apprehension of Asia’s influence in New Zealand remains.

“This points to another limitation, the tendency to assume uniformity about MaÌ„ori and Asian people.”

“Maōri perceptions of cultural similarity with Asian cultures tend to emphasise the generalisability of certain traits. For instance, whanaungatanga, kaumatuatanga and manaakitanga are MaÌ„ori traits which Māori also see exhibited in Asian cultures, but evidence and understanding of how they apply in those cultures seems less well understood.”

“There is some degree of positivity about the influence of Asia, but many are unsure, and some are negative.”

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