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‘People over profit’

BDO New Zealand head of Maori business Kylee Potae has taken part in a TEDx talk that brings the key tenets of the Maori approach to sustainable business practice to a world stage.

The TEDx Kassel Germany event took place virtually due to Covid-19, with a global line-up of speakers discussing the theme of social and cultural entrepreneurship.

The online version of the event has premiered in the last two weeks.

The talk was filmed on one of Ms Potae's ancestral marae, Pakirikiri, in Tokomaru Bay.

In her recording, the first 30 seconds visually tell her pepeha (introduction setting out identity and heritage).

“Last year BDO launched an annual Maori business survey that provided insight into the opportunities and challenges faced by Maori businesses,” she said.

“Findings showed Maori businesses place more importance on culture, society and the environment ahead of profit.

“This Maori mindset of ‘people over profit' has become even more important this year in the wake of Covid-19, with people-oriented organisations having a real place in helping out their community.

“It was a real privilege to tell our story on a virtual global stage at TEDx Kassel this year.”

Her TEDx talk is titled Sustainable Business: A family-based mindset.

While at university and studying to become an accountant, Ms Potae minored in Maori Society and Culture.

It made her start to think about the skills she had that could help make a difference to her people.

“My goal is always to make a positive impact for Maori. It wasn't about myself or getting titles.”

She soon realised that being a partner at BDO and a chartered accountant could help her positively impact on Maori lives.

She came up with the focus of her talk after she thought about “why do we as Maori act and think like we do”.

“I dug deep into thinking about the creation narrative — that we are descendants of those from the creation narrative like Papatuanuku, Tangaroa.

“I thought to myself: ‘No wonder we feel sad or happy when the environment we are in is good or bad'.

“We don't see ourselves as being separate from the earth and universe. We see ourselves as a part of it. This isn't a new idea, it's something people like Albert Einstein have researched and written about.”

“It should be people over everything else. In the long game it's so much more beneficial for humanity.

“Business owners have a responsibility to understand their impact on the world and society. What will we leave for future generations?”

Benjamin Ross, of TEDx Kassel, said: “While looking for more sustainable approaches to conducting business we heard about the innovative and sustainable approach Maori businesses are taking, creating resilient and value-based businesses.

“As we were reading more and more into it, this was really striking because in the Western world businesses and businesspeople rarely reconsider their practices and think the only possibility to sustain in the long term is to pursue solid profits.

“We then contacted Kylee Potae from the Maori Business sector of BDO New Zealand and we had a bright interchange of ideas and visions over a period of three months.”

Ms Potae's TEDx talk can be viewed on YouTube. Type her name into search.

■ A TEDx event is a local gathering where live TED-like talks and performances are shared with the community. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently on a community-by-community basis.

UNIQUELY MAORI: BDO New Zealand's head of Maori Business Kylee Potae recorded a TEDx talk at one of her marae, Pakirikiri, in Tokomaru Bay. Picture supplied