Factors Contributing To Successful Consultancy With Maori Farmers In New Zealand
Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, comprise 14% of the total population (Statistics New Zealand, 2001), and
Maori land is approximately 1.5m hectares (5.6% of the total New Zealand land area). The balance of land in New
Zealand is either Crown or General Land. Maori land is administered under the Ture Whenua Act 1993 (Maori Land
Act). This Act provides the legal basis for the creation of incorporations and various trusts used to manage land held
under multiple ownership by Maori. Maori people are also able to own or lease land held under General Land status,
but land classified as Maori land is owned by family and extended family groupings. The area of Maori land has
increased in recent years as land is returned to Maori owners under Treaty of Waitangi settlements.
An important group of Maori farms, in terms of total land area and number of owners, are the Maori trusts and
incorporations. These entities are governed by a Board (a committee of management for an incorporation, or trustees if a trust). In both cases election to the Board is by the shareholders/beneficiaries.
The employment of managers and consultants by Maori trusts and incorporations, is not uncommon given the large scale of farm operations The appointed manager may not be Maori; the skills and abilities required to manage a
trust/incorporation are significant requiring not only extensive practical experience but preferably also tertiary
qualifications. The number of Maori farm managers is decreasing and studies have shown low participation rates by
Maori in tertiary agricultural education (Kingi et al., 1995).
For the administration of Maori land, New Zealand is divided into seven Maori Land Court districts. Research
undertaken on 23 incorporations in the Waiariki Maori Land Court District found 19 of them (83%) engaged a consultant (Kingi and Nield, 1992). Further research found that every member of the Te Arawa Dairy Group (a collection of Maori dairy incorporations and trusts) employed a farm management consultant or other technical advisor (Kingi, 2000a.
It is important to establish more widely the level of interaction between Maori farmers and consultants, the role that
consultants adopted with Maori clients, the strategies employed to develop rapport, and the type of advice sought and if this differed from that sought by non-Maori clients. Information on the number of Maori farmers who employ consultants and similarly the consultants’ Maori client base were required. This information was needed by Government to formulate effective intervention policies to enhance the capabilities of Maori farmers and farming organisations.
This is the background to the research project on the role of consultants who advise Maori farmers, which was funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in 2001. The research objective was to establish baseline data on the farm management consultancy profession in terms of their interaction with Maori farmers.
A ‘Maori farmer’ was defined as any of the following: (a) a Maori Trust, Maori Incorporation, or other ownership
structure registered under the Ture Whenua Maori Act, 1993 (TWMA) involved in the primary industry; (b) a Maori
organisation (e.g. company, partnership, trust, incorporated society etc.) involved in farming but not registered under the TWMA; (c) a Maori farmer who farms Maori land (i.e. land registered under TWMA); or (d) a Maori farmer who farms General land. Similarly, primary industry consultants included technical and management consultants from a range of primary industries (dominated by sheep and beef, dairying, deer, forestry and horticulture).