Te Kuhui Whetu, the annual conference for Maori education for NZEI Te Riu Roa. We had a impressive presentation from Tumanako Wereta the humble but impressive chair of the Tuaropaki Trust. Tumanako has led what must be considered one of the most remarkable Maori business success stories. An amalgamation of the land belonging to seven Mokai hapu in 1952 resulted in a business trust that has seen a growth of assets from $45 million to around $600 million over the last ten years.
The success of the Tuaropaki Trust is largely due to a strong vision and good deal of self belief. Their vision statement simply says that the Trust will "act as a beacon of hope and prosperity for our people", however it is the carefully thought through strategy that has provided the substance to the vision. Making the best use of their land and resources, four key areas of business development were pursued: temperature controlled horticulture, geothermal power generation, sustainable farming and communications.
With no government support the trust found reliable investors and embarked on developments that would be sustainable and provide a strong and growing business future for following generations. Having left my Southland home where unsustainable dairy farming practices are wrecking havoc on our rivers, aquifers and estuaries it was refreshing to hear about the Trust's worm farms that managed farm and dairy factory waste and turned it into high value fertilizer. There were also other examples of sustainable farm practices that demonstrated what could be happening elsewhere.
The second story was the Stuff news item about a survey of the top fifty "green" companies that showed an average growth 15 times the national average. When you combine the results from this survey with the Pure Advantage report on the international green business race, it provides powerful support for a change in direction from the fossil fuel future being planned for us by our Government. An aspect about green businesses that I found especially interesting was the fact that many were not so dependent on capital from off shore, they provided a range of jobs (from low qualified to highly specialized) and much of the profits and dividends remained in our country.
I'm sure there are many other stories out there that demonstrate the advantages of a green and sustainable economy, if we only look. These stories also show that we can find our own economic solutions, without replicating models from Australia and the US, that better suit our environment and our culture. We can be the masters of our own destiny, maintain sovereignty over our resources and work towards a really sustainable future.