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Height and Te Puni Kōkiri 
“The Height team’s support helped me write a tender and understand commercial and pricing risks I was about to take on. They provided coaching and support in a culturally safe way that made me comfortable. The Capability Uplift Programme has been a game changer for us.” – Martin Yakas, referee.  

Praised for being instrumental in realising the potential of Māori businesses and adding value within the construction sector – especially in social housing, health infrastructure and transport areas – the Capability Uplift Programme also demystifies the government procurement process in a Te Ao Māori context.  

The challenges faced by Māori businesses in pitching for government construction and engineering contacts are huge, the process is complex, the commercial risks are high and sometimes the process is culturally unsafe. With over $16B PA procured by the government in engineering and construction-based services each year, these contracts offer the opportunity to change regional economic fortunes and provide opportunities for training and investment in communities. 

The Te Puni Kokiri (TPK) Capability Uplift Programme is a programme developed by TPK and Māori infrastructure advisory business Height to support Māori businesses predominantly in the construction sector to not only win contracts but to be profitable and delight customers. The programme has been instrumental in: 

  • Realising the potential of Māori businesses, to add value within the construction sector, especially for social housing, health infrastructure and transport, 

  • Demystifying and contextualising the government procurement process in a Te Ao Māori context, and 

  • Supporting the investment in the construction sector for Māori entrepreneurship and training. 

Since April 2021, TPK and Height have offered this support to more than 40 Māori businesses, equipping them with the required knowledge, tools, confidence, strategy (and improving their capability) to secure and deliver Government contracts.  

The programme has been a success, leading to tangible impact and growth for the businesses we have been lucky to work with – some highlights in the construction and infrastructure sector include: 

  • More than $10 million dollars in contracts secured since the beginning of the programme (FY21) with business independently winning bigger contracts. 

  • Yakas Construction has secured the contract for a Kāinga Ora housing development worth $3.4m and they have brought onboard other Māori subcontractors, all with the vision to bring more wāhine into the construction sector. 

  • With tender and pitch support, iTraffic secured an Eden Park traffic management contract worth $3m over a three-year period. 

  • Evolution Scaffolding have secured valuable contracts with Downer and the Auckland DHB. 

  • Supporting Tairawhiti Contracting to mobilise its contract with Gisborne District Council. 

  • Northdrill have secured a $1.6m contract with Far North District Council. 


The benefits of the Capability Uplift Programme are already clear– but these will continue to increase over decades and generations to come, as follows: 

  • Opens opportunities that seemed unlikely or too complicated and turns them into reality. 

  • Empowers Māori business owners with the confidence to navigate a challenging process. 

  • Provides the tools and ability to successfully tender and deliver work. 

  • Enables Māori businesses to expand and grow sustainably. 


There are significant ripple effects of uplifting these businesses – both on their own business development and growth, and for their wider communities. On their work sites, they are bringing in other Māori businesses as their sub-contractors, rangatahi Māori as trainees and apprentices, and advancing the careers of their Māori staff at all levels. 

These benefits filter through to their wider whānau and communities, and provide inspiration to similar businesses, while also providing increased access to other Māori businesses through the supply chain. 

Māori entrepreneurship is about tino rangatiratanga – empowerment and self-determination – and that is precisely what the Capability Uplift Programme creates. 


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