Māori businesswoman bringing culture to boardrooms

An Auckland woman is on a mission to connect 10,000 business people with Māori culture.

There are huge commercial gains to be made, as the Māori economy is worth $50 billion and growing.

Precious Clark brought Māori culture to the world with her karanga during the opening of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Now she's bringing tikanga (customs) and Te Reo Māori to the boardrooms of some of New Zealand's largest companies.

"When New Zealanders start to embrace Māori culture we're able to use it on a global stage, which gives us a point of difference," Ms Clark told Newshub.

Ms Clark is a mother, performance artist and lawyer who sits on four boards.

She's now a consultant with a mission to connect 10,000 business people with Māori culture.

She runs a programme called Te Kaa, where she teaches business people about all aspects of the culture - including correctly pronouncing Te Reo Māori, understanding tikanga, a broader look at Māori business and also takes them to visit her marae.

"To help them understand Te Ao Māori, the Māori World, and give them a safe, fun and exploratory way to access that world," Ms Clark said.

Benefits include attracting Māori staff and tapping into the Māori economy. Its estimated worth sits at $50 billion, according to a major report by a law firm.

The report also found iwi groups are moving into new investment areas like geothermal, digital services and tourism.

They're going global and with about 40 Treaty settlements still outstanding, the Māori economy is expected to grow.

"Rather than the Maori economy being subsumed into the mainstream economy, a lot of New Zealand businesses are picking up Māori values," report author and lawyer Nick Wells told Newshub.

Some big firms are tapping into this. Air New Zealand launched a campaign to encourage more staff to speak Te Reo Māori and earlier this year, Ms Clark held a workshop with 200 staff from Microsoft.

Now she's teaching workers from Z Energy to correctly pronounce the locations of their petrol stations.

"One I didn't have was Ōpōtiki," Julian Hughes, Z's general manager of health and safety, security and environment, told Newshub.

"I didn't have the long 'o's, so I used to say 'Opotiki', so that's helpful."

They're simple ways of adding to the collective understanding of New Zealand's unique culture and connecting the business world to Te Ao Māori.