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Te Manawatōpū: Of one heart and mind -
Indigenous to Indigenous Dialogue

A virtual Indigenous to Indigenous Dialogue on 15 October brought together indigenous people from across the Asia-Pacific.

Led by Te Rangitūkupu, The APEC Māori Partnership Group,  the interactive virtual dialogue enabled indigenous peoples to share experiences of strengthening the resilience of communities and growing indigenous enterprises. 

New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Nanaia Mahuta, gave the opening remarks, speaking live to participants.

The Minister was followed by speakers and panellists from Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Participants included indigenous peoples from the Asia-Pacific with an interest in trade and economic development, including businesses, non-government organisations, youth and indigenous entities.

Chaired by Traci Houpapa of Te Rangitukupu, a panel discussion focused on building indigenous enterprises and communities. It centred on three themes:

  • Indigenous Peoples share traits of empowering communities, establishing strong identity, and practicing self-determination for collective benefit. Connection, relationships, and reciprocity are universal principles that compel responsibility and affirm historic and emerging bonds with indigenous peoples throughout Asia-Pacific.
  • Digital technologies break down barriers to communication enabling indigenous peoples to connect, share ideas, and trade in this rapidly evolving world. The challenges for indigenous peoples are great but the potential for indigeneity to create positive change is even greater.
  • Indigeneity can inform, enhance, and build the role of families and communities. Conversely, economies transform and benefit through building families and communities. Technology inspires, applied, and created to affirm indigeneity, and advance the notion of culture through commerce – commerce through culture.

Breakout sessions gave participants the opportunity to build connections and discuss potential areas for future collaboration.  


The speakers

From top left: Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Traci Houpapa, Tewanee Joseph. From bottom left: Cecilio Solis Liberado, Georgia Latu and Sylvia Okinlay-Paraguya.

Opening remarks

Hon Nanaia Mahuta

Minister of Foreign Affairs 

As a mother, and a constituent MP with 20 plus years’ experience who has come from ‘flax-root’ politics, Hon Nanaia Mahuta remains connected to the aspirations of people from all walks of life. Those who work hard for a living so that their children can do better, kaumatua, tradespeople, those who aspire to own their home, those who own small businesses and those who lead a range of services and organisations and huge iwi entities.

During her time in Parliament, Nanaia supported policies and initiatives that built the capacity of communities, especially social service organisations, greater investment in education, employment and training opportunities particularly for young people, supported the continuation of the Treaty settlement process and supported specific initiatives that lift the wellbeing and opportunities for young mums and those who are vulnerable and victims of abuse.

Nanaia is a tribal member of Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Manu and her parliamentary experience has enabled her to contribute to the collective aspirations of Maori and all New Zealanders.

In the 2020 Labour Government, Nanaia became the first woman to hold the Foreign Affairs portfolio. She is also Minister of Local Government, and Associate Minister for Māori Development.

* * * 


Traci Houpapa

Chair, Federation of Māori Authorities

Chair, Te Rangitūkupu (APEC Māori Partnership Group)

Traci is an award winning company director and a recognised industry leader.  She is a trusted advisor to Maori, Government and industry on strategic and economic development, and is known for her strong and inclusive leadership and her clear focus on building the wealth and prosperity of New Zealand.

A Chartered Fellow of the NZ Institute of Directors, Traci is named as one of the top ten most influential women in NZ agribusiness and the Listener’s top ten influencers in NZ.  She won the Westpac Fairfax Media Women of Influence Board and Management award and named on Westpac’s NZ Women Powerbrokers list.  Traci was awarded the Massey University Distinguished Alumni Service Award for services to NZ agribusiness and Maori, and named amongst the BBCs 100 Most Influential Women in the World.

Traci is a Member of the NZ Order of Merit, a Justice of the Peace and a Marriage Celebrant.

Keynote speakers

Tewanee Joseph

CEO, Tewanee Consulting Group, Canada

Tewanee’s mother is of the Indigenous Canadian Squamish Nation, and his Father is Māori from Taranaki Whānui. He has served eight years on the Squamish Nation government.

As the CEO of the Four Host First Nations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, Tewanee secured Indigenous participation in the planning and hosting of the Games. He and his team overcame countless challenges to create a new model for inclusivity. This project resulted in the largest inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in an Olympic Opening Ceremonies ever; viewed by approximately 3.5 billion people.

He is further embracing the new digital reality, getting ready to launch a First Nations news economic development YouTube channel podcast which will highlight new business developments and legislative changes across Indigenous communities throughout Canada.

Georgia Latu

CEO, Pōtiki Poi, Aotearoa-New Zealand

When Georgia was 12 years old she started her own business making poi with her whānau in the lounge of their whare. She named the business Pōtiki Poi. Pōtiki is the last name of her ancestor Tahu Pōtiki that lead her people to the South Island of Aotearoa. And Pōtiki also means, youngest child. Her youngest brother was born with Trisomy 21 the same year she started her business and she wanted to ensure her business would support him and others with diverse abilities in her community. Two and a half years on Georgia is the CEO of the world's largest eco-friendly poi manufacturing business.

 * * * 


Sylvia Okinlay-Paraguya

CEO, National Confederation of Cooperatives, Philippines

Sylvia Okinlay-Paraguya is the CEO of the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) of the Philippines, a federation of 859 cooperatives with 6.4 million individual members, which seeks to build socio-economic capabilities of cooperatives to improve the lives of the people.

She has observed global cooperative movements and has participated in various global conferences. She was the Chair of Proxfin, an association of organisations in 25 economies assisted by the Development Internationale Desjardins of Quebec, Canada.

She has held leadership positions in various NGO networks and cooperatives in the Philippines, giving her a wider perspective of the development frameworks affecting various sectors. She was a former member of the Government Panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front from 2004-2008.

A member of the Higaunon tribe of Bukidnon, she is a chemical Engineer and holds a Master in Business Management from the Asian Institute of Management, Philippines.

Cecilio Solis Liberado

President of Federación Indígena Empresarial y Comunidades Locales de México (Federation of Indigenous Businesses and Local Communities of Mexico)

Cecilio Solis Liberado is of Nahua descent, from the Sierra Norte of Puebla state, Mexico. He is the President of the Federation of Indigenous Business and Local Communities of Mexico (CIELO, in its Spanish acronym).

CIELO operates in 22 states throughout Mexico, with its membership comprising of 33 Indigenous groups and local communities, including those of Afro-Mexican descent. Currently 253 entrepreneurs (individuals and collectives) are being supported through the network, with the intention to generate local jobs and assets and prevent the need to migrate out of their communities, all the while keeping cultural and environmental considerations top of mind. CIELO is part of the first “Buen Vivir” Fund investment round, working on FIDI: the Fund for Development with Identity, which will support 33 small Indigenous businesses in bringing their products to market while maintaining their cultural heritages.