Comment: Northland’s economic wellbeing and environment wellbeing go hand-in-hand

Uretiti Beach in Northland is a prime example of what makes Northland unique.


Northland, a region of rich cultural heritage and breathtaking beauty, has long been regarded as the gateway to Aotearoa.

Our unique landscapes, pristine coastlines, and diverse and thriving ecosystems serve as the foundation upon which our future regional vision must be built.

Our economic wellbeing must be in balance with our environment and support the wellbeing of our people. As our economy grows, it is our responsibility to protect and preserve our region’s natural resources for generations to come.


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At the core of this approach is the recognition and elevation of ‘local’ – our knowledge, our business networks, and our culture. We must recognise the mana whenua of our hapū and iwi who have stewarded these lands for centuries and provide support and pathways towards economic prosperity and self-sustainability.

Blanche Murray (pictured) and Harry Burkhardt are attributing Tai Tokerau's success to a mixture of the region's rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.
Blanche Murray (pictured) and Harry Burkhardt are attributing Tai Tokerau’s success to a mixture of the region’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.

By working together and drawing upon our collective wisdom, we can tap into a wealth of knowledge that will help guide us towards sustainable economic development and ensures that the benefits are shared equitably among Taitokerau Northland communities.

Māori businesses have a strong track record in innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainability. Supporting and empowering these businesses to thrive in both domestic and international markets by leveraging their unique cultural identity as a competitive advantage is a point of difference for our regional economy in Tai Tokerau.

Central to this vision is the development of a vibrant and inclusive Māori export sector. Fostering collaboration and providing targeted support will create opportunities for economic growth and increased employment within our communities.


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Co-chair of the steering group for the Te Rerenga Economic Wellbeing Pathway Harry Burkhardt.
Co-chair of the steering group for the Te Rerenga Economic Wellbeing Pathway Harry Burkhardt.

We recognise the importance of building strong partnerships with the wider business community, government agencies, and educational institutions to achieve our vision. Collaboration and shared values will enable us to unlock the full potential of our region, attracting investment, creating jobs, and building resilient industries.

Regionally, we must seek out strategic alliances, both within New Zealand and internationally, to drive innovation and build capacity in sectors such as tourism, agriculture, renewable energy, and technology.

Investing in infrastructure and connectivity is another crucial aspect of our pathway to economic wellbeing. Improving transportation networks, and digital connectivity, and building resilience in essential services across Northland is critical to our success.

By reducing barriers and enabling a permissioning environment for businesses and communities we can unlock the full potential of our region and ensure that no one is left behind.

As co-chairs of Te Rerenga, Taitokerau’s Economic Wellbeing Pathway, we are guided by the principles of kaitiakitanga (guardianship), whanaungatanga (relationships), and manaakitanga (hospitality).

We recognise that true economic wellbeing goes beyond financial indicators; it encompasses the health, education, and social cohesion of our communities. We must prioritise initiatives that address poverty, inequality, and lift the wellbeing of our people, to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are felt by all.

We invite all stakeholders, both within and outside our region, to join us on this journey towards a prosperous future for Northland. By working together, we can build a resilient, inclusive, and sustainable economy that honours our unique heritage, protects our natural environment, and provides a high quality of life for all.

Together, we can create a legacy that future generations will be proud to inherit.

* Harry Burkhardt (chair of Ngāti Kuri, chair of the Te Kahu o Taonui, the Taitokerau Iwi Chairs Forum) and Blanche Murray (representative of the Whāriki Māori Business Network and Māori exporter) are co-chairs of the Steering Group for the Te Rerenga Economic Wellbeing Pathway.


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