He Waka Eke Noa is an intermediary that connects Māori and Pasifika-owned businesses with clients and buyers wanting to purchase goods, services and works. It was established by The Southern Initiative team in Auckland Council in collaboration with with the support of partners who shared the vision of promoting Māori and Pasifika entrepreneurship.

The name He Waka Eke Noa is taken from a famous Māori whakataukī (proverbial saying) which translates as ‘the canoe which we are all in without exception’. It refers to acting as a collective, working in unity and leaving no one behind.

He Waka Eke Noa businesses intentionally create opportunities for people who face disadvantage in the labour market. They employ people who have experienced long-term unemployment and several businesses recruit people exiting prison or with histories of criminal offending, providing a second chance. A couple of the businesses target ex-military service people who are struggling to adapt to life outside of service.

Like the rest of the industry, problematic drug and alcohol use, nutrition and access to food, low levels of literacy and numeracy and lack of driver licences are key challenges facing the businesses. Most directly, or with others, provide some form of pastoral care and mentoring. Most of the businesses also provide in-work support for employees to improve their literacy and numeracy and gain driver licences.

The businesses are deeply involved in their communities, from supporting initiatives to tackle homelessness and food insecurity, to projects with marae; from sponsorship of local sports and beautification activities, to encouraging and mentoring other Māori and Pasifika peoples to become entrepreneurs.

There is a strong focus on pushing staff to become more qualified and skilled so they can earn more money, start their own businesses or travel overseas.

Definition of Māori and Pasifika business

Māori or/and Pasifika-owned businesses are defined as enterprises where:

  • Partnerships: at least 50% of each class of partnership interest is owned by Māori and/or Pasifika person(s) and such ownership must be reflected in the partnership agreement; or
  • Corporations/companies: Māori and/or Pasifika person(s) own at least 50% of each class of ordinary voting shares issued and at least 50% of each class of all other shares issued; or
  • Trusts: at least 50% of owner(s) of securities or assets held in trust are Māori and/or Pasifika person(s); or
  • Sole proprietorship/trader: 100% ownership by a Māori and/or Pasifika person.

Relevant enterprises can include sole traders, partnerships, incorporated companies, trusts, incorporated societies, cooperatives, not-for-profits, iwi and hapū organisations, marae, social enterprises, community-led enterprises and franchises.

Māori are defined as people with Māori whakapapa and who identify as Māori.

Pasifika peoples are people descended from the Pacific ethnic groups of Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Fiji, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and the small island states of Micronesia.

Definition of clients and buyers

A client is the person or organisation who is specifying, and will own, the goods, services or works to be sourced. A client can also be a buyer if they are in a direct contract relationship with the Māori and/or Pasifika business.

A buyer is the person or organisation who contracts the Māori and/or Pasifika business but is not the client. This applies to situations where a supplier is sub-contracted to a main contractor.

About HWEN businesses

Get the latest data about He Waka Eke Noa businesses here