Pōwhiri welcomes 15 Māori businesses into the fold


Fifteen Māori-owned businesses were into the whānau at a pōwhiri this week to celebrate the creation of Ngā Kakau Paraha – a new Māori business network.

We set up the network in tandem with its procurement process to find contractors and consultants who’ll help to deliver the first stage of its ambitious $3.5 billion asset upgrade and renewal programme.

Our head of supply chain and procurement Stuart Bird says: “The pōwhiri was an incredibly proud moment for us. We want to do our bit to lift the Māori economy and to do this we need to find new opportunities for Māori-owned businesses to work with us. That’s why we’ve set up Ngā Kakau Paraha, our new Māori business network.”

The businesses went through a tender and verification process to be included in the network. They represent a number of construction trades used by Watercare and its contractors for work in the water and wastewater networks, including electrical, landscaping, earth works, pipelaying, traffic management and plant and labour hire.

“With the creation of this network, we’re linking up businesses to the contractors and consultants who’ll be helping us to deliver our $3.5b asset upgrade and renewal programme.

“Our contractors and consultants are incentivised to boost their own spend with Māori-owned businesses, so they’re really pleased to have access to a business network that’s specifically focussed on the water and wastewater industry,” Bird says. “The feedback has been incredibly positive.”

We have a target to have 5 per cent of its annual total spend going to Māori businesses by 2025.

“We’re not quite there yet. We hope Ngā Kakau Paraha will help us to reach – and surpass – this goal, but we also know we need to keep finding opportunities across all areas of the business.

“The pōwhiri was an excellent opportunity to connect businesses with each other, but also to link up business owners with our staff who are looking for suppliers to help us in our daily operations.”

Joseph Rawiri’s business Lite Civil is one of the 15 businesses in the network. “I think it’s a great opportunity for small businesses to get their foot in the door with larger suppliers, where businesses like us have sometimes struggled to get into.

“Māori businesses are more likely to employ Māori people and to support other Māori businesses, so having Watercare create this network can have a much wider impact on the Māori economy.”

Civil Pipelayers managing director Ross Karena says: “I think it’s a great initiative. Māori businesses have a lot to offer in terms of their skills, capability and experience but finding opportunities to work with the bigger players in the industry can be difficult.

“For us, it’s a great opportunity to expand our business and collaborate with other small businesses.”

As part of the process to set up the network, Watercare worked with Amotai – an organisation that connects Māori and Pasifika-owned businesses with companies looking for goods and services.

Amotai general manager Anna-Jane Edwards says: “We congratulate Watercare on recognising the important role that public organisations can play in creating a more equitable and inclusive New Zealand economy.

“Ngā Kakau Paraha is a fantastic example of how buyers can grow more resilient and innovative supply chains and unlock the additional socio-economic benefits that come through working with Māori and Pasifika businesses.”

Our te reo Māori and tikanga advisor Nikora Wharerau says the name for the supplier network was put to a vote by the Māori business owners – and ‘Ngā Kakau Paraha’ was a clear favourite.

‘He kakau is the handle/the part that you grip on a tool. And the word paraha is the tool. Everyone in the network has different areas of expertise – there wasn't one tool that applied to everyone – so we thought 'Ngā Kakau Paraha' would best represent the group as a whole.”

Ngā Kakau Paraha

  • Ascon Skilled Personnel Ltd
  • Civil Pipelayers Ltd
  • Evolve Electrical & Technology Ltd
  • Ground & Pound Ltd
  • Hindmarsh Drainage Contractors Ltd
  • I-Construct/Civil Ltd
  • Independent Traffic Control Ltd
  • Lite Civil Ltd
  • Next Enterprises Ltd
  • Olsen Welding Ltd
  • Omaet Contracting Ltd
  • Pinnacle Scaffolds Ltd
  • Platinum Electrical Ltd
  • Tana NZ Ltd
  • Veza Drainage Ltd