A creative co-op looks set to be formed in New Zealand’s Wairoa District following a visit from Craig Presland, CEO of Cooperative Business NZ – the country’s representative body for co-ops – to encourage the development of local co-operative businesses in the area.
The district – with a population of around 7,000, of which more than 60% are Māori – has successfully embraced the sustainable businesses model since local people and the government signed a landmark $100m (£51m) treaty settlement in December 2010, in compensation for historical grievances over land rights.
The Ngāti Pāhauwera Development Trust, based in the Hawkes Bay township of Wairoa, was formed out of the settlement and has since invested in several enterprises that have breathed life back into the land and enhanced economic prosperity for its 7,000 plus members.
The purpose of Mr Presland’s visit was to help build upon this economic success using the co-operative model. And the idea to form a creative co-op was the result of discussions with a group of local people following his presentation on the co-op business model and the co-op sector locally and globally.
With the working title of the Creative Content Co-op, the new venture could involve the possible merger of three or four existing businesses into a worker-owned co-op of up to 10 staff. The co-op’s aims and purpose were set down as:
- Storytelling, and in particular past Māori settlement in the region, NZ wars, locals who fought in WWI and WWII, Māori Battalion etc.
- Connecting people, including those who have left the district for overseas and who may want to return one day.
- Creating emotional connections and feelings for the region and its potential.
The group is now considering its next move in establishing the co-op, which Cooperative Business NZ will be supporting.