Friday, 23 March 2018 08:55

Put heart into agribusiness

Written by  Peter Burke
Mavis Mullins. Mavis Mullins.

It's time to put some heart into the agricultural sector, says Maori leader and member of the NZ Business Hall of fame, Mavis Mullins.

She says most people seem to recognise what is best practice in land use, but she says this is very compliance driven and actions are taken mainly because of the fear of breaking the law – rather than out of a genuine sense of love for the land.

Mullins believes Maori offer a very different perspective on land, which comes from the heart. She says the compliance model is very much a one-legged strategy.

 “The  time has come to personalise the land in the way Maori do. 

“Right now, across all the sectors, we  are going down a very commercially driven one way street  and it’s not a nice street,” Mullins explains. 

“ It’s a matter of introducing a balance and being clear about what that balance means. People are not engaging the issues of the land with their hearts and this needs to change,” she says.

She says Maori have names for land and water and because of this they see land through a different lens. 

Mullins believes the aspirations of capital and capital returns alone are a big driver, especially as more land becomes corporatised and commercialised. 

“The drivers are numeric as opposed to walking on the land and getting to understand how it responds especially when there is some form of degradation or weakness. Seeing land in a personal sense makes it more meaningful,” she says. Love of our natural resources does not necessarily mean a drop in productivity or long term profit.

Mullins says it’s not only the land, but also about the people. She claims the corporate model tends to take the spotlight off people and communities, and these get lumped into a resource line. This brings everything into a seemingly heartless financial model. 

She says looking after the people and family is not an obligation, rather a privilege and an honour.

Mullins adds that Maori see the land very holistically, in a less narrow way. She believes it is vital for the future of NZ agri for people to see the long term value of this Maori world view. 

“I’d like to see people come to this in their own minds. It would be wonderful if a couple of light bulbs went on and instead of just thinking about complying with the law, people restored the mana of the land because they wanted to.”

 
 
 

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