Profits almost double for Māori farming businesses

Profits for Māori authority farming businesses reached $97 million in 2018, almost double 2017 figures, Stats NZ said today.

The role of Māori authorities and their subsidiaries is to receive, manage, and/or administer assets held in common ownership by Māori.

The profits (surplus before tax) for Māori authorities focused on agriculture was also one and a half times the $63 million surplus in 2014, when New Zealand saw record international dairy product prices.

YearSurplus before income tax ($)

“New Zealand’s dairy exports earnings increased in 2018, supported by strong milk production and sustained global demand,” business statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.

More than 200, or around one-sixth, of Māori authorities are in agriculture.

On average, Māori farms have four times more land than the average New Zealand farm.

“Treaty settlements are often made up largely of land, which partly accounts for the large number of land-based businesses and assets held by Māori authorities,” Mr Dolan said.

Just over half of Māori farms are made up of grassland, with plantations (for example, pine trees) making up 22 percent of Māori farms, and bush and scrub 16 percent. The average Māori farm is four times the size of the average New Zealand farm, but generally has just over three times as much stock.

Sheep, beef, and dairy cattle tend to be the chosen livestock for Māori farms, with sheep numbers far exceeding other livestock numbers.

“Sheep have historically outnumbered other livestock held on New Zealand farms,” Mr Dolan said.

“However, on the average New Zealand farm there are almost three sheep to each dairy or beef cattle, but for Māori farms, this number is closer to four.”

Livestock numbers on Māori farms fell slightly in 2018 compared with 2017, with sheep down 3 percent, beef cattle down 5 percent, and dairy cattle down 12 percent. The fall in dairy cattle follows a 9 percent fall in the previous year, which may indicate a move for Māori farms away from dairy.

Māori farms on average have more livestock than the average New Zealand farm. In 2018:

  • Māori farms with sheep had just over four times as many (6,822 on average) compared with all New Zealand farms with sheep (1,601 on average)
  • Māori farms with beef cattle had nearly five times as many (805 on average) compared with all New Zealand farms with beef cattle (164 on average)
  • Māori farms with dairy cattle had twice as many (891 on average) compared with all New Zealand farms with dairy cattle (445 on average).
Livestock typeMāori farmsNew Zealand total farms
Beef cattle805164
Dairy cattle891445

The land and livestock data in this release comes from the Agricultural Production Survey, and was the latest available when this release was compiled.

Agricultural production statistics: June 2019 (final), released at the end of May, has data for 2019.

/Stats NZ Public Release. View in full here.