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Reinterpreting the value chain in an indigenous community enterprise context

Merata Kawharu (Centre for Sustainability, Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand)

Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy

ISSN: 1750-6204

Article publication date: 4 January 2019

Issue publication date: 12 July 2019




Research in the field of indigenous value chains is limited in theory and empirical research. The purpose of this paper is to interpret values that may inform a new approach to considering value chains from New Zealand Maori kin community contexts.


The paper derives from research that develops Indigenous research methods on positionality. By extending the “included researcher” (Kawharu, 2016) role, the research recognises the opportunity of being genealogically connected to one of the communities, which may enable “deep dive research” relatively easily. Yet practical implications of research also obligate researchers beyond contractual terms to fulfil community aspirations in innovation.


Research findings show that a kin community micro-economy value chain may not be a lineal, progressive sequence of value from supplier to consumer as in Porter’s (1985) conceptualisation of value chains, but may instead be a cyclical system and highly consumer-driven. Research shows that there is strong community desire to connect lands and resources of homelands with descendant consumers wherever they live and reconnect consumers back again to supply sources. Mechanisms enabling this chain include returning food scraps to small community suppliers for composting, or consumers participating in community working bees, harvesting days and the like.

Social implications

The model may have implications and applicability internationally among indigenous communities who are similarly interested in socio-economic growth and enterprise development.


The apper’s originality, therefore, derives from addressing a research gap, showing that indigenous values may provide a new approach to conceptualising value chains and developing them in practice.



Kawharu, M. (2019), "Reinterpreting the value chain in an indigenous community enterprise context", Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 242-262.



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