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NZ Productivity Commission Chair to speak at Bay

New Zealand productivity commission chair Ganesh Nana. Supplied Image.

Wellbeing from a productivity-related perspective will be the topic of an address by newly appointed New Zealand productivity commission chair Ganesh Nana, when he speaks at the Tauranga Regional Council Chambers on July 13.

The new productivity commission chair was invited to speak by Mana Taiao Events and the Tauranga Maori Business Association.

Mana Taiao Director Buddy Mikaere says the event is an opportunity for the business community and interested public to get to grips with the commission’s efforts to embrace broader wellbeing in productivity-related terms.

“There’s been much comment in recent times about how Kiwis are working long hours but are apparently less productive.

“A new report finds that Aotearoa’s top firms are falling behind. They generate less than half of the value—per labour input— generated by their international counterparts.

“This country’s firms are also not making the most of the best technologies outside the country which could help lift productivity.”

Buddy says he also understands there is evidence of labour misallocation.

“It seems to me that with the commission’s role being to advise Government on improving productivity in a way that supports the overall well-being of New Zealanders, there is much expectation in hearing Ganesh’s views first hand.”

Ganesh says productivity and wellbeing have to be viewed together, not separately.

“There are some who view wellbeing as a ‘nice to have’, suggesting we need to wait till we can afford improved wellbeing. Thankfully, such a perspective is no longer prevalent.

“Moreover, there is a growing realisation that the rules, structures, and institutions underpinning our economy need to take responsibility for delivering wellbeing to all.”      

The new Commissioner says the Commission’s focus on understanding how improved productivity can lift wellbeing directly relates to investigations that show how other factors such as poor quality and insecure housing, can have a negative effect on productivity.

Ganesh will also address taonga, which he views as the four capitals within a construct called the Treasury Living Standards Framework – physical capital, human capital, natural capital, and social capital.

“While the first three are well defined, the components of social capital require elaboration.

“Within social capital I would include taonga such as Te Tiriti o Waitangi, sense of community, inclusion and access to opportunities, respect for rules, an acceptance of mutual obligations to contribute and the principle of reciprocity, and an acknowledgement of whakapapa, manaakitanga and whanaungatanga.”

Buddy says Ganesh’s visit is timely given the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and new ways to work. 

“The world has changed and there is much talk of the vital link between productivity and well-being.

“I agree with Ganesh’s view that a lack of investment in social capital in all its forms diminishes its ability to deliver wellbeing.

“Ganesh’s presentation in Tauranga will hopefully promote public understanding and discussion about how having people feel good about themselves and the community they live in, has a positive impact on work productivity-related matters.

“We hope it encourages productive discussion across our business community.”

Ganesh says while we face new challenges our shared kaupapa of lifting the wellbeing of all New Zealanders – with our taonga uppermost in our minds – provides a great starting point.

“I am keen to progress our kōrero on productivity in a manner appropriate for, and relevant to, the many wero or challenges facing 21st century Aotearoa.”

Ganesh took up the position of Chair of the Productivity Commission Te Kōmihana Whai Hua o Aotearoa after 22 years at Business and Economics Research Limited.

His work at BERL covered a broad range of projects. His highlight was the efforts made in strengthening relationships with Māori entities and organisations and building an understanding of te ōhanga Māori.

The event starts at 4.30pm; entry is free of charge and is sponsored by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Priority 1. The event will be chaired by Business studies Professor Jens Mueller. 

To reserve a space at this event go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.nz/e/productivity-applying-our-taonga-to-deliver-wellbeing-tickets-160695489535

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