Mavis Mullins: People are our most precious resource

Global Women member Mavis Mullins is a New Zealand business legend. This year, she was named Outstanding Māori Business Leader of the Year, and in July will be inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame. Mavis was kind enough to share her thoughts with us around Matariki, and the growing Māori economy. Kia ora and congratulations Mavis!

Late May to early June is always a special time as Māori, and increasingly New Zealanders, celebrate our part of the celestial wonder called Matariki.

A time to celebrate the fact that crops have been harvested and food preserved in ready for the long winter months ahead. This reminds us that where ever we are in our life journey, there should always be a time to reflect, celebrate, rest and indulge in home and whanau. I am not sure I do this particularly well, but my whanau tell me I am getting better! It is about balance. For many of us, finely tuned balance.

So, my life was about growing up in the shearing sheds of the North Island, where all who contributed to the work or mahi became whanau or family. In our shearing business today, owned and managed by daughter Aria, this is still a key value. People are what makes the world go round, people, our most precious resource. Yes it can be difficult, yes it can be frustrating, yes it can be hurtful, yes it can be expensive—but when it works it is magical, it is well worth the effort.

So with that in mind and the expanding Māori economy, the opportunities are boundless, as are the challenges. But I have seen first hand, how Māori business can often smoothly negotiate those invisible cultural divides, where we are able to blur and merge. This can lead to investment into relationships, upon which can be built solid commercial relationships. Often these things cant be learnt, they are inherent.

Then when we factor in the new technologies being absorbed into each facet of our everyday lives, greater opportunities become evident. What an outstanding time to be in the space we are in.

So as Aotearoa NZ Inc reflects this Matariki on the past season, let us be just as concerned with the horizons ahead. Let’s be more courageous in inclusivity and diversity; let’s be authentic in our relationships as Treaty partners, business partners, colleagues who support healthy communities. Let’s be actively engaged in being the mentors for our leaders of tomorrow, not barrier arms but enablers. Tihei mauriora!