Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Best of Both Worlds - How Māori Small Businesses Engage with Their Pākehā and Māori Values

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posted on 2021-11-13, 22:20 authored by Best, Philip Graham

Māori small business owners must work in two cultures; their own Māori culture and the Pākehā culture which frames much of the legal and commercial imperatives of their business. Some Māori business leaders have commented on the need to develop a new business model for Māori owned and operated businesses that allow Māori to bring their own cultural values to a business whilst operating in a Pākehā environment. This research sheds some light on what some of the ingredients of that business model may be. Respondents owning small businesses commercialising traditional knowledge were interviewed about the cultural values they used in their business. Interviews comprised a face to face oral interview providing qualitative information followed by a written questionnaire providing frequency of use for both Māori and Pākehā concepts. This research shows how Māori small business owners commercialising traditional knowledge have been able to take appropriate parts of both their Māori and Pākehā cultures to develop and operate a business that builds on the best of both worlds. Using the ambicultural approach (Chen and Miller, 2010, 2011) it has been possible to analyse the relationships between aspects of Māori and Pākehā business culture. Māori respondents told of how they felt about the financial aspects of their business compared to the cultural and social aspects which were all important elements of their business. Respondents described how they balanced their cultural and social objectives with the financial objectives which enabled the business to remain sustainable. Social and cultural outputs are often found in other non-western businesses and some features of these are discussed leading to the conclusion that Māori businesses are more similar to those in some Asian and Middle Eastern localities than to the western environment in which they operate. The ambicultural approach has already been used by Chen and Miller to describe the success of some Asian based businesses. Applying an ambicultural relational approach to Māori small business has made it possible to explain how Māori small business owners are able to intertwine their cultures to develop a new operating culture for their business which provides the cultural, environmental, financial and social outputs they are searching for.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Maori Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

940114 Māori Development and Welfare

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Maori Studies : Te Kawa a Māui


Adds, Peter; Mercier, Ocean