Supporting the development of indigenous people

Indigenous people represent about 7% of the population of Chile, but are concentrated in rural areas, particularly the Mapuche in the south, although there are significant numbers of Aimara (Art. 1°, law N° 19.253 from 1993, Indigenous Law) and other groups in the northern regions and also Rapa Nui in Easter Island. Chile has only recently moved to recognize the special status of Indigenous people first through the 1993 Indigenous Peoples Act and then in 2007 when Chile adopted the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights and in 2008 when Chile ratified Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization which guarantees rights to consultation, property and selfdetermination for indigenous people. Chile created CONADI, the National Indigenous Development Corporation as the main government body to form indigenous policy and consult with indigenous people.

Conditions of the indigenous people of Chile roughly parallel the conditions of indigenous people in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States - the other OECD countries with large indigenous populations and formal policies to deal with them. Poverty rates are considerably higher than for the balance of the population, educational levels are lower, income is lower, housing is inferior and opportunities for advancement are worse. Almost by definition, social exclusion is much higher, largely because indigenous people have a different status than other citizens. Social exclusion is also reinforced by government policy, which in most of these OECD countries has isolated the indigenous population on reservations and provides a separate set of social services to them.

While the groups of indigenous people in Chile lead a distinct social and cultural existence, they are not as economically autonomous. In particular, there are still unsettled claims over property rights and property titles, conflicts over water rights and over traditional access to fishing and forestry activities. Moreover, development in territory adjacent to reservations often has significant spillover effects on the reservation. Chile has carved out special status for indigenous people in agriculture, forestry and fishing, which are all traditional activities and these are considered to be a part of formal rural policy.

Box 2.5. Supporting the development of indigenous people in New Zealand

Unlike indigenous communities in some other OECD countries, Maori in New Zealand largely live dispersed amongst the wider non- indigenous community and share social and educational services. Only in more remote rural areas where they have retained ownership of land do Maori live in communities where Maori form the majority of the population.

The New Zealand electoral system provides Maori with significant representation in Parliament and Government: 7 seats in the 120 seat Parliament reserved for Maori voters. In addition, Maori can vote in general seats. Most political parties have Maori members of Parliament. This allows the impact of government policy on Maori to be carefully considered.

New Zealand has a long standing formal Treaty with Maori tribes that was signed in 1840. Subsequent to the signing of the Treaty, Maori were subject to the loss of most tribally owned land and forests and to rights to utilise fisheries. Government policies tended to result in lower levels of educational attainment and a focus on Maori into lower skilled and manual employment. With the economic downturn on the 1970s and 80s, the combination of these factors resulted in high and continuing levels of unemployment and social deprivation.

In these circumstances many Maori individuals and communities turned to developing their own businesses, often with a focus on local natural resources and the environment and Maori culture, as a key component of that business. Maori now exhibit a relatively high level of entrepreneurial activity compared to the wider community.

In parallel with a rise in entrepreneurial behaviour in the Maori community, there has been an ongoing programme by the Government to settle historic grievances relating to breaches of the Treaty. The progressive settlement of claims has seen payment of compensation and commitments by national and local government to provide greater input by Maori into planning and management processes relating to natural resources of importance to Maori.

In combination these approaches have assisted to create an environment where Maori have the incentives, confidence and growing capability to create greater opportunities to effectively participate in the economy, while maintaining cultural values and identity.

The systemic nature of unemployment amongst Maori in rural areas means that improvement in employment levels and earned income amongst Maori require development of opportunities that enable Maori to participate in central and local government decisions that affect resource management. It also requires opportunities for Maori to develop business capability, skills, economic scale and interactions with the wider economy while continuing to maintain their cultural identity.

Examples of the application of this new paradigm include:

Box 2.5. Supporting the development of indigenous people in New Zealand

  • (cont)
  • 1. Tourism development in the Kaikoura District of the South Island.

Kaikoura is a small coastal community with a local population of around 3 500 residents thriving largely because of the entrepreneurship, dedication and leadership of its Maori people who have put to good use the rich natural resources at their doorstep. Maori have been living in Kaikoura for around 1 000 years and a significant Maori population was present when European settlers arrived. Europeans initially focused on whaling but reducing whale numbers and declining profits from exporting them resulted in a shift to fishing, farming and later to the railways. In the 1980s with the privatisation of the railways Kaikoura experienced a deep economic downturn and a significant rise in unemployment in the region particularly for Maori with up to 95% of the local population unemployed. Four local families mortgaged their homes to establish a business aimed at creating both an economic base for Ngati Kuri and employment for local Maori and this is how Whale Watch Kaikoura Ltd came to be, this 100% Maori owned enterprise through all its early challenges has thrived becoming the single largest contributor to the development of Kaikoura from a simple rest stop to one of New Zealand’s leading eco-tourism destinations.

Today this multiple national and international award winning business can carry up to 100 000 visitors per annum off the Kaikoura coast on a world class experience offering them the chance to encounter the Giant Sperm Whale, other migrating Whales, Dolphins, Seals and a wide variety of pelagic Seabird species all year round. (weather permitting) While Maori are a small minority in Kaikoura, the business has provided a keystone for rejuvenation and refocusing the economy away from declining industries to a vibrant tourism destination with tourism both directly and indirectly accounting for up to 50% of the local economy and worth around NZD 100 million per annum. It is estimated that up to one million visitors both domestic and international can annually take in the sights, sounds and taste bud sensations of this coastal community. Whale watch tourism has transformed Kaikoura, and today this town is a hustle and bustle of activity; accommodation, restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops line the main street. The Whale Watch business has also provided a sound example for wider tribal investment in a range of Iwi (Tribal) linked tourism ventures across New Zealand.

The key role of Ngati Kuri has had further benefits in elevating the recognition of Maori as leaders in the wider community. This has contributed to Ngati Kuri being considered as essential community leaders in interactions with central and local government on resource management and economic development initiatives that affect Kaikoura and its surrounding district.

2. Miraka - successive collaboration of multi-owned resources by Maori

Miraka is a majority Maori owned dairy company based in Taupo in the North Island. Miraka is backed by a collaborative group of Maori trusts and incorporations that are the majority shareholders. These incorporations and trusts are involved in a wide range of successful business ventures focussed on the resources on the lands they own, including geothermal energy generation, horticulture, forestry and pastoral farming. Miraka had its genesis in a decision by shareholders to maximise the economic return from their dairy holdings by moving beyond the farm gate and manufacturing and marketing a higher value product to global markets. The main product that is exported is whole milk powder. This has recently been expanded to include the manufacture and distribution of UHT milk.

Box 2.5. Supporting the development of indigenous people in New Zealand

(cont.)

Miraka processes milk from local dairy farms operated by Maori and non-Maori farmers and is seen by the wider community as a dynamic and well managed and trusted business to be involved with. The company has been profitable almost from its opening day and has steadily expanded production, a unique situation for new entrants to the New Zealand dairy industry.

Miraka is an example of how dispersed resources held by a group of Maori whanau (families) have been successfully collectivised through effective leadership and governance. While Miraka has a commercial focus to ensure maximum return to its shareholders they do not compromise their commitment to their key value as kaitiaki (guardians) of their land which will never be sold.

3. Ahuwhenua Trophy Maori Excellence in Farming Awards

The Ahuwhenua Trophy competition has a prestigious history dating back to 1932. The Ahuwhenua Competition was introduced by visionary leaders Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisloe to encourage Maori excellence in farming. In the 1980s interest started to wane in the Competition and the last of the original competitions was held in 1990.

In 2003 the competition, was re-launched because of the increasing contribution and importance of Maori incorporations and trusts in the agribusiness sector. There are two trophies, one for sheep and beef and one for dairy and the annual competition alternates between sheep and beef and dairy farming.

The performance of the entrants is evaluated by a panel of judges on a wide range of economic, environmental and social criteria including the upskilling of their farm employees and their contribution to the local community. The Ahuwhenua Competition receives a wide spectrum of support from Maori landowners, central government agencies, industry good bodies and commercial firms.

The finalists field days and annual Award dinner receive high attendances providing excellent forums to both celebrate excellence in Maori farming and to provide inspiration to other farmers to lift their performance. The value and intent of both Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledislow remains as relevant today as it was 81 years ago.

In 2012 a new award was introduced for the Young Maori Farmer of the year which is competed for annually for dairying and sheep and beef. This award acknowledges the efforts of young Maori working on farms and looks to inspire their efforts to one day win the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy.

Chile’s approach to dealing with its indigenous population parallels that of Canada and the United States, which have long relied on a separate agency to manage relations. In a sense, this approach largely follows the old approach to rural development, with its reliance on subsidies and a decision-making process that is very top-down and centralised in a small bureaucracy. By contrast, both Australia and New Zealand have followed a broader approach that formally recognises the leading role that indigenous people played prior to the arrival of European settlers.

Current approaches to improving conditions of indigenous people in other OECD countries are moving more toward a process where responsibility is more fully devolved to individual bands or settlements along with resources to begin a bottom-up development process. Most importantly, there is an increasing recognition by governments and by indigenous people that economic improvement requires stronger economic integration. The challenge is finding a way to provide for continued cultural identity and values in an integrated market economy. While this has not yet happened in many cases, there are sufficient success stories to suggest it is a better approach (See Box 2.15)

 
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