These opportunities emerged following New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s Pacific Mission visit to the country earlier this month.
FOMA, which was formed to foster and advance the economic interests of Maori authorities, is keen to work with their local counterparts to tap into business opportunities in the Cook Islands.
Chamber of Commerce president Stephen Lyon said their primary focus was to support Cook Islands businesses.
“With regards to foreign investment, the Chamber supports actions to promote and develop investment that is socially and environmentally responsible, and that will contribute to the growth of the Cook Islands economy,” Lyon said.
“Investment by iwi (Maori tribe) would certainly be welcomed, particularly if it is able to strengthen businesses and opportunities for Cook Islanders.”
Despite strong cultural links between Maori and the Cook Islands, only one iwi has signed a covenant with the country, according to a report from the Maori TV.
“It’s time for us as New Zealand Maori, as Aotearoa, to stand alongside our Pasifika whanaunga,” FOMA chairwoman Traci Houpapa told the New Zealand TV channel.
In 2015, the Cook Islands and the Kingitanga Maori King Movement signed an agreement to explore collaborative business investment opportunities including areas such as fisheries, farming, technology, property development, retail, energy production, hotels and tourism.
“Not too much has happened since then,” Cook Islands Investment Corporation director Caren Rangi told Maori TV. “We should start to generate some of those conversations to see what mutually beneficial business opportunities there might be for us all.
“We have whakapapa, history – we have a range of connections, but how are we capitalising on those for the good of our whanau?”
Rangi said building these ties could provide incentives for young people to return to the Cook Islands post-study in New Zealand.
Houpapa said New Zealand Maori already have access to established relationships that they can exploit and positively leverage for their Pasifika relations.
“As a Pacific Member state our focus needs to be on looking at how we can align with the various nations and then support the development of economic opportunities,” she said.