Focus area: Enriching Māori inclusion and enterprise


From the instigation of this ITP, many voices spoke to the need and opportunity to support more Māori to be active participants in the digital technologies sector, given the increasing role of digital across the economy and society. The scope for increased Māori participation is wide ranging, from workers and employees, business owners and creators of digital technologies, to investors.

Many successful enterprises in the digital technologies sector are led by Māori business creators and owners (including wāhine Māori), but they are under-represented proportionately. Currently only 4% of the sector’s workforce are Māori.[1] This very low percentage is likely due to range of factors, such as misperceptions about digital tech jobs, a lack of visible role models, barriers to pathways into work or investment, and workplaces not offering mentors or manaakitanga to those transitioning into the workforce. There are a number of programmes that focus on raising digital skills for Māori, but these are usually ad hoc and small scale. The sector needs to do more to welcome and attract participation by Māori.

This ITP will promote and support activity that builds Māori participation in the digital technologies sector, having regard for Te Tiriti and the role of the Crown as partner, and the ambition for what are commonly termed “by Māori for Māori” approaches, while recognising the Waitangi Tribunal principle that Māori have the option to “walk in 2 worlds”. The ITP’s specific focus area for Māori inclusion and enterprise seeks to nurture the growth and potential of the Māori tech ecosystem and its mātauranga.

The ITP’s actions aim to support on-the-ground partnerships, how we can learn about what is working well, and how to replicate and share the lessons. This knowledge will help better connect existing initiatives, so they operate more as a whole, reinforcing each other and leveraging different strengths. The knowledge will identify how successful initiatives might be scaled up, whilst being mindful some are tailored to local needs and kaupapa and kawa. The ITP will support initiatives led by Māori that are inherently “by Māori for Māori with Māori”.

Wahine Māori with moko kauae and businessman looking at a laptop

In addition, all focus areas in this ITP have actions that aim to grow and reinforce a Māori presence and involvement in the industry, including wāhine Māori. Furthermore, the ITP is cognisant of other related work underway within government to encourage Māori participation in the sector. These include (but are not limited to) the Māori Employment Action Plan, the Future of Work programme, the Māori Economic Resilience Strategy, and He kai kei aku ringa (the Crown-Māori economic growth partnership). These all have synergies with this focus area.

It is clear that Te Ao Māori perspectives, values, language and practices have significant potential to help grow and invigorate New Zealand’s global success in this sector. This ITP aims to make the activity and the potential of the Māori tech ecosystem more visible and understood by a wider audience, such as industry, potential investors, government agencies, and communities. However, we need to take care around the marketing and use of mātauranga, recognising it is not a commodity but something respected and guarded, while shared for the common good of communities, whānau and individuals.

Māori in tech ecosystem research (funded)

Research on Māori in the tech ecosystem is underway, which highlights the range of the existing activity promoting Māori perspectives within the sector. This research is being led by a Māori tech entrepreneur, and involves Te Whare Wānanga ō Awanuiārangi and a Māori Advisory Kōmiti. It will create a landscape map of the ecosystem to better understand the current Māori tech sector. It will build understanding of the needs and aspirations of leaders within this sector and how these voices can contribute to efforts to increase Māori participation.

The research utilises a kaupapa Māori/mātauranga Māori framework. It will provide understanding of the key opportunities and challenges, and how the sector can be unlocked to support the growth of both the Māori and broader New Zealand economy.

The final report is due to be released in the first half of 2023.

Māori Tech Annual Report (part-funded)

MBIE was a part funder of the inaugural Māori tech annual report, developed by Paua Interface Ltd. This report, which was launched in February 2023, makes visible, and will help boost, the success and economic contribution of Māori technology companies, their founders, and their workforces. It provides a comprehensive and independent data-driven report to those who want to partner, invest, fund or support Māori-owned technology companies.

The report features 72 companies, with a deep dive into 16 started by tech founders who provide in-depth insights on the paths to their successes, and the challenges. The report presents the unique value provided by kaupapa Māori perspectives, values, language, and practices. It profiles technology sub‑sectors, such as telecommunications, AI, gaming, digital media, and cyber security and provides an analysis of global and local mega-trends in technology that Māori technology companies can respond to and build on.

Tokona Te Raki Stage One Digital Apprenticeship (funded)

MBIE provided financial support to Tokona Te Raki for the first stage of a proposed digital “apprenticeship” initiative. Tokona Te Raki is a Ngāi/Kai Tahu led organisation with a vision that all rangatahi are “inspired by their futures, thriving in education, confident in their culture and determining their own path”.[2]

This first stage involved engagement and co-design with rangatahi, education providers, agencies, and employers on what is necessary to develop a digital ‘apprenticeship’ (a work integrated pathway model) and how a prototype might encourage more rangatahi Māori into the digital technologies sector. The final report outlines the information and insights gained, and provides a framework and roadmap for implementation (Manu Kurutao) to support the further development of the apprenticeship model. This work will also benefit others looking to develop similar work integrated pathways for new starters or career changers, especially from a kaupapa Māori perspective.

Enabling Māori Fund (ITP programme funded)

The Enabling Māori Fund (EMF) arose from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, which included $6.5 million for facilitating Māori economic development. The EMF was set up to contribute towards industry transformation, with a focus on Māori participation and enterprise.

In mid-2022, MBIE ran a pilot for EMF funding that would support high-wage, low emissions and sustainable business growth for Māori across the Māori enterprise, digital and agritech sectors. MBIE is now determining a process to distribute the remaining funding in the EMF, which will be spread across all eight ITP work programmes. 

The EMF and the Digital Technologies ITP will work together to maximise their impact and support for Māori enterprise and participation.

Potential initiative


Champions within the eco-system are often responsible for delivering their initiatives and helping and supporting others directly or through roles on boards, committees and so forth, while concurrently holding down a job or running a business. The demands on their time represents a significant barrier for them to identify, support and assist in scaling up successful initiatives.

The draft ITP work programme previously identified the concept of “Whītiki”, who would be champions paid to act as a connector and advocate for the Māori tech ecosystem and to enable Māori participation and success.  Further consideration is needed however, and this will be supported by the insights and outcomes of the initiatives already funded in this focus area.

Success factor for this focus area:

Increased Māori participation in the digital technologies sector, as business owners, entrepreneurs, and workers.