Israel’s ambassador welcomed by Te Arawa Iwi in Rotarua

November 11, 2021 by  
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According to the local elders of Ohinemutu who attended the Business and Innovation Hui with the Israeli ambassador last week, it was a momentous occasion to formally welcome the first Ambassador to Rotorua and onto the renowned local meeting house ‘Tama-te-Kapua’.

Kariana Black (2nd left)with Ambassador Ran Yaakoby in St Faiths Church

The hui was facilitated by representatives from the Indigenous Coalition for Israel, working alongside iwi business liaison Rania Sears, and iwi leaders, who made the event possible. Some of the attendees were Iwi board members of large Trusts. Others were representatives from various sectors, including solar energy, agritech, health, food and beverages.

 The purpose of the event was to establish a relationship between the Israel Embassy in New Zealand and local iwi business leaders, as quoted from Ambassador Ran Yaakoby, ‘at a grassroots level’,  where possible entrepreneurship opportunities in business, education and technology would be considered.

As facilitator of the event, I found it insightful to learn that Israel leads as one of the top producers of entrepreneurs in the world (please see statistics at the end of this article for details).  With Rotorua’s geothermal, farming and forestry, opportunities, akin to innovations in Israel, thinking ‘outside the box – and taking risks‘ were two concepts Ambassador Ran emphasised on the day, as keys to Israel’s business and cultural successes.

Ambassador Ran Yaakoby also shared his pēpeha (genealogy of origin to the land of Israel) from Abraham to the Holocaust and to his own birth in the new land of Israel,  making an interesting history lesson for the High School students from Raukura (Girls and Boys High Kapahaka) who lead the wero (challenge) and pohiri (formal welcome) alongside local iwi.

The iwi of Te Arawa, acknowledged Ambassador Ran’s indigeneity to the land of Israel, and he was welcomed as such.

Accompanying the Ambassador as manuhiri (guests) onto the marae were representatives from Mataatua waka, Koro Rangi Paul; Indigenous Coalition for Israeli Representatives, Brad Haami, and myself; Mina Acraman, and other invited guests. After formal speeches had finished, I presented the Ambassador with a specially designed copy of the Treaty of Waitangi on behalf of the Indigenous Coalition for Israel,  a memoir of how Māori people, just like Israeli people, “are a covenant people”.  I pointed out that although the Treaty signed at Waitangi in 1840 was dishonoured by the Crown, Israel and Te Arawa Iwi may have an opportunity to form their own Treaty, envisioning what a business-entrepreneurship- partnership might look like.

As a symbol of this newly formed friendship, and a gift back to the whenua ‘land’ and iwi, Ambassador Ran gifted an olive tree. Subsequently, planted nearby at St Faiths Church, ‘Te Haahi o Te Whakapono’, quoting the Torah “you shall not cut him down, for the man is a tree of the field – כי האדם, עץ השדה.

Where to from here?  An iwi trustee-leader welcomed the idea of ‘strengthened bonds between the two communities with kaupapa (purpose) and manaakitanga (ethic of care).  To develop inter-experience as well as leadership programs with country exchange for rangatahi and anyone interested in the korero’.  As a ‘next step’ another iwi leader, willing to lead the charge, envisioned a further hui involving the larger economic body of Te Arawa to discuss some agreed possibilities presented during the day, before bridging a second hui with the Ambassador.

As one of the goals of the Indigenous Coalition for Israel is to increase understanding of Israel through ‘kanohi ki te kanohi’ (face to face) engagement, we were very pleased to play a part in facilitating the day and we’re excited to see Te Arawa open the door to Israel. We expect to see good outcomes for Iwi and for Israel from this event.

Interesting facts about Israeli entrepreneurship mentioned on the day

Israeli technologies have already been implemented in New Zealand, such as Ormat’s Geothermal Power Plants in Taupo, CropX Smart Irrigation Systems and Afimilk Advanced Dairy Management Solutions.


  • is a world leader in the fields of Science & Technology, Hightech, Agritech, Medtech, Cyber Security

  • is ranked fourth-best in the world for its ability to absorb and utilise new technologies

  • is also the fourth-best placed to get venture capital for a start-up.

  • scores even better on their “capacity for innovation” and “quality of scientific research institutions”, with good performances on other aspects such as the availability of scientists to tackle issues, per-capita patent applications and university-industry collaboration.

  • is rated the 27th most-competitive economy in the world by the World Economic Forum

  • Is ranked 33rd in the world in terms of economic freedom by the Heritage Foundation. Without heavy government intervention, Israel has been able to rely on its “competitive regulatory environment and well-established rule of law to attract international investment”, despite sizable government spending.

Report from Kariana Black

Kariana Black, as a representative of the Indigenous Coalition for Israel, helped to facilitate the Te Arawa Business and Innovation Hui with the Israeli Ambassador.

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