Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Maori Development and the Rourou Economy

One of the key election issues this year is our economy. In particular, how to do we protect our people (especially our most vulnerable) when times are tough.

The Maori Party are not renowned for our economic policies; but I think this is partly because our economic policies are not well understood. Our policies are not just about dollars and cents - our "economic development" policies are mostly about the latter part of that title - development.

As mentioned in a previous blog, I am particularly excited by the concept of the "rourou economy" (G.H.Smith). A rourou is translated as a foodbasket, and the name of the policy is derived from the whakatauki:

Ma tou rourou, ma taku rourou, ka ora ai te iwi
With your food basket and mine, the Iwi will be sustained

The message in this proverb is primarily about 'sharing' for collective sustainability. The Maori Party policy is made up of a number of policies that focus on collective rights and resilience, the most well known being "Whanau Ora". 

The rourou/foodbasket title of our policy also emphasises our focus on food as a key driver of sustainability and development. 

As we all know petrol and power costs are high, and yet are a critical part of our every day lives as private citizens, as businesses, and as consumers. Many of us also know that prices are often driven by supply and demand - and in a simplified equation - our supply of fuels is shrinking, while our demand is increasing - ala the increase in costs in petrol and power.

Many governments around the world, have already turned their attention to the need to find sustainable energy sources as a means to combat our global reliance on fuels. (And just a note here - the Maori Party also support the direction towards using renewable and sustainable energy sources). In New Zealand 3/4 of our power supply currently comes from renewable energy sources - which is a great thing, nonetheless the majority of us still use petrol everyday - and until we are at 100% we have more to do. The point is that we are well on the way to addressing this particular issue.

Which brings me to my point about food security. Food - is potentially the next important driver of our wellbeing and (economic) development that we must ensure is secure. That means we need to ensure that everyone has access to kai, and sustainable sources of kai. With our global population recently reaching 7 billion, and the event of climate changes - we may see the demand for food, again, outstripping supply. That is why the Maori Party have picked up on this particular concept - food security - as an integral part of our development (both social and economic).

So the rourou economy is about acknowledging that food will be a key driver in our development, and ensuring that we have the resources to cater for ourselves, but also that we are prepared to participate in a food economy in the future. This could happen in many different ways, whanau to whanau; hapu to hapu; iwi to iwi; nation to nation.

The beauty of this approach is not just about food security either, it is also about sharing knowledge, and building sustainable business and relationships locally and globally. This particular policy is positioned within our ahi kaa poilcy which is about building up key infrastructure (roadings, internet, etc) that increases whanau (particularly rural) access to key resources, which they can use to develop their communities.

Today maara kai, tomorrow - infinity and beyond!


1 comment:

  1. Your Party is so cool. Water, food, shelter. With the world crumbling all around us ( I mean the current financial structures that spins the planet) we need to focus on what is true. People need to eat. From the beginning of time, people have had to feed themselves. You cannot wait for others to feed the people. Your own food networks will keep you and sustain you. Profound and yet so natural.