Māori Hononga

Māori Partnership

He waka eke noa

A canoe which includes us all

We’re on a journey to better support Māori researchers, entrepreneurs and investors – starting by changing ourselves.
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He waka eke noa

A canoe which includes us all

We’re on a journey to better support Māori researchers, entrepreneurs and investors – starting by changing ourselves.

Information for Māori researchers, entrepreneurs, students & leaders

Tēnā koutou e ngā kairangahau, e ngā rakahinonga, e ngā ākonga, koutou e ngā manukura.

We know Māori approaches to research, investment and business relationships may be different to tauiwi ones. At UniServices, we’re committed to working with Māori to develop positive relationships and find better ways of working as genuine Te Tiriti o Waitangi partners.

Protecting Māori intellectual property

We recognise mātauranga Māori and tāonga including art, te reo and native flora and fauna. That’s why we’ve developed a Māori intellectual property policy to protect Indigenous knowledge, traditions and data from accidental or deliberate misappropriation. Major principles of the policy include consultation, partnership, sharing, and free, prior and informed consent.

The policy is a beginning – it’s intended to evolve as experience and understanding deepen at UniServices and around the world. For example, there is growing awareness within international legal frameworks that Indigenous understandings of ownership and property are more about responsibility and kaitiakitanga than Western understandings are.


Tikanga-based investment


We’re aware non-Māori investment models based simply on a financial bottom line may not align with te ao Māori. UniServices is working with Māori to develop ways of doing business that consider social, cultural and environmental impacts as well as economic ones.

For example, in setting up a University spin-out in partnership with an East Coast iwi, we co-created an investment strategy where an overarching, locally controlled not-for-profit trust would secure access to the whenua, have kaitiakitanga and rangatiratanga over the brand story and would license the brand to an operational company. The trust, the academics who founded the company and UniServices each have an equity stake in the operational company.

Future companies and investments might use different solutions but we are open to being flexible and creative so we can partner in tikanga-based processes for the benefit of all.

Building our own capability

UniServices is working to build our capacity to engage with Māori. Part of this involves bringing on more Māori staff. We have a Kaiārahi, a Manutaki Whanaketanga Umanga Māori | Māori Business Development Director, a Poutaki Hononga | Investment Development Lead and a Kaitātari Tauhokohoko | Investment Analyst overseeing the wider Māori strategy for UniServices. This team is working on building relationships with iwi and hapū as well as with Māori businesses, organisations, researchers and other manukura to bring us closer to mātauranga Māori and the Māori economy.

We have also increased our Māori staff in other roles across our business. This includes appointing Poutaki Mātauranga Māori and other leading roles in our services and projects to ensure we’re meeting Māori needs in areas such as supporting the education and mental health workforce. We’re committed to recruiting more Māori staff and to developing kaimahi through activities such as professional development wānanga and regular meetings of a Māori hoamahi group.

We’re also bringing our non-Māori staff on a journey to being more cuturally competent to ensure a more Indigenised process on all fronts. This has included opportunities to take part in cultural competency workshops, take te reo Māori classes, access a wide range of resources and participate in special events such as noho marae to build knowledge and understanding of te ao Māori.

On a deeper level, we’re examining our structures and the research and investment ecosystem with the ultimate aim of making more space for Māori research, innovation and business to thrive. This is an ongoing journey but one we’re committed to as Te Tiriti partners. For example, we recently doubled the size of the University of Auckland Inventors’ Fund to $40 million, in part to commit more resources to Māori innovation and enterprise.

Information for non-Māori researchers and entrepreneurs

Are you a Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland researcher working in an area that impacts Māori, whenua Māori (Māori land), mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge including science, engineering, cultural practices and worldview), or other tāonga (treasures including arts, language, native plants and animals)? Do you need to consider these factors in a research or funding  proposal? Want to partner with Māori in research or investment? We’re here to help or at least point you in the right direction.

From learning about your obligations to signing contracts, we work with researchers and other University departments in areas such as:

  • Offering workshops on topics such as understanding Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Vision Mātauranga, Wai 262 and their relevance to research
  • Assessing proposals and intellectual property for relevance/obligations to Māori
  • Helping develop and advance research proposals that meet funding bodies’ guidelines
  • Helping negotiate agreements that meet the needs of Māori and non-Māori partners

Information for investors

UniServices often co-invests with others. We may not necessarily be the biggest investor but we have deep networks and access to expertise. In general, we work to bridge the gap between the academic and business worlds. When it comes to co-investing in Māori businesses or businesses run in partnership with Māori, we have the resources and expertise to act as a bridge between te ao Māori (the Māori world) and the business world.

We live our values in all our investment decisions, but it’s particularly important when partnering with Māori to consider environmental, social, cultural and financial bottom lines, the essential building blocks of an economy of mana. Relationships and mutual understanding are important, so we take the time to have the kōrero (conversations) necessary to build those. This way of working may be a bit different but engaging with the Māori economy has tremendous potential for both economic and societal impact. Come engage with us in a tikanga-led investment journey.


Māori Partnership Contacts

Tui Kaumoana


More about Tui

Tui (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato) has been with UniServices since 2020 and leads Māori kaupapa across the organisation. She is tūturu Waikato and has been a director and operations manager. Tui holds an MBA from the University of Auckland. Contact about: Kaupapa Māori, Māori-related operational matters, Māori events, Māori internships, iwi relationships.

Dion Peita

Manutaki Whanaketanga Umanga Māori | Māori Business Development Director

More about Dion

Dion (Te Rārawa, Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua, Ngāti Tīpa) joined UniServices in September 2022. A former executive in the heritage industry, he has expertise in complex engagement with Māori. He holds a postgraduate diploma in Māori Development. Contact about: Vision Mātauranga; Te Tiriti relationships; Māori health, education, economy and innovation.

Tama Davis

Executive Director Māori

More about Tama

Tama (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Haua, Ngāti Tuwharetoa) supports UniServices in mātauranga Māori. Tama holds an MBA and has more than 25 years’ experience in public health, mental wellbeing and governance. Contact Tama about Kaupapa Māori related to UniServices-managed services and projects.

Bernie O’Donnell

Poutaki Mātauranga Māori

More about Bernie

Bernie (Te Atiawa, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngā Ruahinerangi, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāi Tahu) and Tama Davis share a role as experts in mātauranga Māori. Bernie holds an MBA and has a background in Māori media, hauora Māori, urban Māori advocacy and governance. Contact about: Kaupapa Māori related to UniServices-managed services and projects.

Tori McNoe

Poutaki Hononga | Investment Development Lead

More about Tori

Tori (Te Arawa, Ngāti Tahu/Ngāti Whaoa, Ngāti Raukawa) is a young Māori leader whose role at UniServices focuses on Indigenising investment programmes. She is also chair of the Canterbury Momentum Investment Committee. Contact about: Māori investment; rangatahi leadership.