He Waka Eke Noa was established in 2018 by The Southern Initiative team at Auckland Council, supported by partners who shared the vision of promoting Māori and Pasifika entrepreneurship through smarter use of procurement and supply chains.

We created supply chain opportunities through the Auckland Council family’s procurement, and established He Waka Eke Noa in 2018 to facilitate relationships with Māori and Pasifika businesses and enable the market to meet our procurement requirements. Auckland Council and Auckland Transport have played a pivotal leadership role in intentionally using procurement to create opportunities for supplier diversity.

The development of He Waka Eke Noa has been heavily influenced by the Australian commonwealth government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy and Supply Nation, the largest national directory of verified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. Together, these initiatives have proven to deliver step-change for Australia’s indigenous economy. We are thankful for the generous support of Supply Nation and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island businesses who are helping us bring supplier diversity to Aotearoa.

Supplier diversity is a strategic and intentional business process that proactively engages, supports and enables businesses owned by indigenous peoples, minority ethnic groups, women and social enterprises to be engaged in supply chains. This is known as business to business (B2B) procurement. Its aim is to level the playing field so these businesses have fairer access to customers and markets.

The benefit for clients and buyers is a more competitive market for goods, services and works, and potential for innovation and accessing untapped markets. Having strong supplier diversity and development practices creates a competitive edge for businesses tendering for public sector contracts where supplier diversity is a requirement.

Many countries – for example, the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, South Africa and China – have supplier diversity initiatives, including intermediaries (like He Waka Eke Noa) and policies for public sector social/sustainable procurement requirements. All the international evidence shows that supplier diversity initiatives ensure that indigenous, minority ethnic and women-owned businesses have opportunities to share in economic opportunities and prosperity and grow entrepreneurship and employment opportunities in their communities.

Here in Aotearoa, our experience is that Māori and Pasifika businesses are the untapped change agents in creating a more inclusive, and more sustainable, NZ economy. Entrepreneurship is one of the key ways Māori and Pasifika can build wealth for their families and communities, and the businesses we work with employ proportionately more Māori and Pasifika peoples than other businesses.

He Waka Eke Noa is championing supplier diversity in Aotearoa and we uphold the following values in our practice.



Creating and maintaining connections through shared experiences and working together provides people with a sense of belonging and inclusion in a greater purpose. Relationships are an important cultural principle for Māori and Pasifika peoples, and are deeply embedded in our business practises.

Our role is to facilitate mutually beneficial relationships between clients, buyers and He Waka Eke Noa businesses.



The great Polynesian settlement of the Pacific Islands and Aotearoa required fortitude, risk-taking, precision, entrepreneurialism and innovation. Māori and Pasifika have excelled in many fields and want to play greater leadership roles in creating an ambitious economy that works better for all people, the planet and future generations.

Our role is to support clients, buyers and He Waka Eke Noa businesses to excel in supply chain innovation and business excellence.

Mana motuhake


Entrepreneurship is an important way of Māori and Pasifika peoples expressing authority, control and independence over their lives, and in generating wealth for their whanau, ‘aiga and communities.

Our role is to support business-to-business (B2B) practices where He Waka Eke Noa entrepreneurs can flourish and be successful as Māori and Pasifika businesses.


Active generosity and support

Manaaki translates as caring for a person’s mana (validity, authority, power, respect and freedom). Trust, nurturing, integrity, sincerity, equity and reciprocity are important values in Māori and Pasifika societies.

Our role is to foster an ecosystem of cooperation, empowment,

inclusion and the sharing of prosperity.