Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr has embraced Te Ao Māori and pushes back against racism and abuse – he explains why


Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr said racism may be behind some setback the central bank has felt since it started embracing Te Ao Māori, or the Maori world, under his leadership.

Orr was the first governor to be greeted with a pōwhiri when he joined just over three years ago and since then has made it his mission to better connect the 87-year-old sacred institution to the multicultural country. that she serves.

Under his leadership, the bank developed a story of Tāne Mahuta using the Maori god of the forest to explain how he fits into the financial system, integrates Maori language and culture throughout the organization, works to deepen his understanding of the Maori economy, and is rebranding to better reflect its identity and purpose.

Given that 95% of New Zealand’s bank assets are owned by foreigners and 85% are owned by four major Australian banks, it is important to Orr that the central bank has a clear New Zealand identity and he says that Tāne Mahuta’s story strongly resonates with the country’s history and context.

* Reserve Bank spends $ 100,000 for rebranding
* Are readers ready for bicultural media?
* Adrian Orr: banks must be “courageous” and continue to lend to customers in difficult times

“I really wanted a story that makes it clear that when you worked with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand it was New Zealand because a lot of our banking system is owned by foreigners,” he says. .

“You can forget that we are not here to serve the foreign banks, we are here to serve the people of New Zealand.”


Berl Director and Chief Economist Hillmarè Schulze discusses the findings of the 2018 Maori Economy Report – Te Ōhanga Māori.

Orr has previously alluded to online abuse he received from “so-called banking and business experts” about the bank’s use of Maori mythology.

He says some of the push-backs could indicate racism.

“I’m sure there are elements in there,” he says. “I have confronted some people to say that.”

He declined to identify the individuals, but noted that the pushback came from fairly narrow segments of small but similar groups.

The Reserve Bank experienced a “massive pushback” when it forced the banks to have more skin in the game by holding more capital. Vitriol sank almost immediately, with some seeking to discredit the regulator, he said.

One of those disputes involved the right-wing think tank The New Zealand Initiative, which criticized Orr for “comparing the Reserve Bank to a Maori tree-god, something to make even the eyes of the most bank students shine. convinced ”.

The New Zealand Initiative has also criticized the Reserve Bank for espousing views on climate change and the Maori economy, which it says has little to do with the central bank.

Along with its role of maintaining the stability of the country’s financial system, the Reserve Bank’s mandate also commits it to support the government’s broad economic goal of improving the well-being and standard of living of New Zealanders. through a sustainable, productive and inclusive economy.

Orr says he doesn’t operate outside of his tenure.

“We swim efficiently in our lane,” he says.

Controlling climate change is essential to understanding the risks to the financial system, he says, noting that it impacts the ability to get insurance and mortgages, which could exclude some people.

Te Ao Māori is an important and important economic capital base for the future development of the country, he said.

“Fixed assets and human capital are very strongly Te Ao Māori and if we don’t recognize and exploit it, we will miss out on incredible opportunities not only in terms of traditional economic growth, but also new areas of development. ‘innovation. “

To better understand these drivers, the bank commissioned the economic consultancy firm Berl to continue its work on measuring the Maori economy.


Berl Director and Chief Economist Hillmarè Schulze discusses the Maori asset base as detailed in The Māori Economy 2018 report.

Berl’s latest report published this year, Te Ōhanga Māori 2018, states that “the future is Maori” with significant growth in the Maori population and workforce expected to continue.

The Maori population grew by 30% in the five years leading up to 2018, surpassing a 7.7% increase in the non-Maori population.

The Maori population of working age, aged 15 and over, increased by 33%, compared to 9% for the non-Maori population.

The number of Maori employed increased by 47 percent, with a 46 percent increase in the number of Maori employers, a 25 percent increase in self-employed workers and a 56 percent increase in employees.

That’s ahead of non-Maori employment growth of 19 percent, with an increase of 4.3 percent of employers, 5.3 percent of self-employed workers and 27 percent of employees.

The number of Maori under the age of 15 increased by 23%, compared to just 1.7% for the non-Maori population.

The makeup of the Maori workforce is changing, with the number of Maori in highly skilled jobs increasing by 83% in the 12 years leading up to 2018, representing a quarter of all Maori employees. Almost half of all self-employed Maori work in highly skilled jobs.

The direction of the Maori economy in New Zealand will help shape the prosperity of New Zealanders for decades to come, said Finance Minister Grant Robertson.


The direction of the Maori economy in New Zealand will help shape the prosperity of New Zealanders for decades to come, said Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

The report found that the Maori asset base is diversifying outside of the primary sector and the Maori economy is increasingly a growth engine for the economy.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said at a Te Ōhanga Māori report launch breakfast in April that it was one of the most important jobs the Reserve Bank would lead during his tenure as minister .

“The location of the Maori economy in New Zealand will help shape the prosperity of New Zealanders for decades and decades to come,” said Robertson.

Orr says his previous role as head of the NZ Superannuation Fund made him understand the importance of having a long-term horizon and thinking about the economy holistically.

It is in everyone’s interest to have an employed workforce, people who are not working poor, safe communities and sustainable environments, he says.

“Our mandate is to think about financial stability for now and for all future generations,” he says. “What I’m aiming to do is actually properly fulfill our mandate to the fullest extent, rather than partially fulfill it.”

He says he wants to make sure that the bank is relevant for everyone, not just for certain sectors.

One of the problems identified by Te Ōhanga Māori concerns the difficulties faced by many Maori businesses in accessing capital.

Maori have low homeownership rates, which limits their ability to borrow against their homes, and borrowing on collectively owned Maori land is also cumbersome.

The Reserve Bank noted in its May Financial Stability Report that not being able to access capital affects the ability of Maori clients and entities to achieve their full economic potential and also inhibits growth and profitability. productivity of the New Zealand economy.

The Reserve Bank is partnering with the Treasury to investigate barriers and work with commercial banks to improve access to capital.

Indigenous communities in other recently colonized countries face similar problems, and the bank is working with its counterparts in Canada and Australia to find solutions to common problems.

Central banks around the world as well as other major global bodies like the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have focused on issues such as financial exclusion, inequalities and indigenous economic failures.

While the New Zealand Initiative says it has jumped on the bandwagon, Orr says it reflects a shift in societal attitudes.

“It’s becoming a really mainstream language,” Orr says. “And it’s not at the cost of low and stable inflation, it’s for the best.”

The new logo for the Reserve Bank, which it says better reflects its role as the kaitiaki, or guardian, of Aotearoa's financial system.


The new logo for the Reserve Bank, which it says better reflects its role as the kaitiaki, or guardian, of Aotearoa’s financial system.

Orr says he is focused on defining the fundamental pillars of Te Ao Māori within the bank so that they last beyond his tenure.

“The success of the Reserve Bank is essential,” he said. “We just really need to put these pillars in place. “

He notes that ideas that may seem revolutionary at first soon become “business as usual” in the future, as happened with environmental, social and governance principles for investors.

Orr says it can make him “very sad” at times to see explosions directed at the bank.

Nonetheless, he remains realistic that monetary policy will never win you a popularity contest and he makes sure to look after his own well-being, spend time away from work with his family, go fishing for the night. beach and start over on the golf course. , although badly, he said.

“I don’t go home and I don’t throw stones,” he says. “I live two separate lives.

“It’s the old adage that you can sleep right in your bed at night, knowing you’re doing the right thing, even though it doesn’t necessarily seem easy or popular. “

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.