Social Procurement

Aukaha supports Māori and Pacific Island communities in Otago by connecting them to procurement services. Aukaha is raising the profile of social and Indigenous procurement practices to support these communities.

Aukaha May22 142 Min (12)

What is social procurement?

Simply, social procurement means that the consideration of social impacts and benefits are an intentional and integral part of the procurement process – how will this organisation positively affect the community through its work? How does this request for proposal/tender enable contractors to create positive outcomes for community?

Social procurement practices create social value to achieve social, environmental, and economic objectives. Positive outcomes include creating jobs for people who traditionally find it challenging to access sustainable work, diversification of the supply chain, improved health and safety, promoting inclusion, and reducing unemployment and precarious employment.

What is Indigenous procurement?

In an Aotearoa New Zealand context, Indigenous procurement processes have criteria and expectations built into them that centre tāngata whenua and te Tiriti o Waitangi – how will this organisation work alongside tāngata whenua? Is this organisation led by te Tiriti principles? How does this request for proposal/tender prioritise equity of access for tāngata whenua-led entities?

Indigenous procurement practices should demonstrate a clear basis in cultural values, with focus on wellbeing as an outcome. In our takiwā/region, we also expect to see mana whenua at the centre of relationships that guide procurement practices.

Won’t it cost more?

There is a perception that applying social / Indigenous procurement practices will cost more or carry additional risk, but they can still include financial – or any other -  imperatives as criteria. They simply place more emphasis on the bigger picture with the longer-term gains that come from holistic community-centric strategy.

Intermediaries such as Amotai are proving that these perceptions are mostly just that, and that bringing together socially driven businesses and social enterprise suppliers to build business relationships generates wider social benefits for Māori and Pacific people within New Zealand.

Make a real difference

The effect on the local community is profound - an example of Indigenous social procurement in Australia found there to be $4.41 worth of indirect economic and social value generated for every $1 spent – that’s a 400% return to the community.

Providing a seat at the table means that Māori entities have equitable opportunities to access contracts and work that can have a wider positive impact for Māori. Diversifying procurement processes means resources are shared across the community and also different knowledge bases and methods are available to buyers.

How can Aukaha help you?

Aukaha has developed a strategy for social procurement as part of its regional development. This included funding research into understanding procurement from an Indigenous perspective and how te Tiriti can be used as a framework in procurement processes and policy. The research is contributing to a shift in perspective for those who procure such as central and local government entities, as well as large institutions and companies.

Aukaha has contracted to many Māori and Pacific providers themselves and created multiple opportunities, via its role as a mana whenua entity in advising on large projects. They strategically used this opportunity to create more opportunity for local providers.

For suppliers

  • Become marketable in new arenas
  • Establish responsible financial practices
  • Create a fairer playing field
  • Make contacts you wouldn’t otherwise
  • Access training

For buyers

  • Become a socially conscious corporate
  • Inclusivity for Māori & Pacific people
  • Learn how to provide fair pay

Understanding a Tiriti-based approach to social procurement - research by Sequoia Short.


Intermediary organisations work across all social procurement processes, finding common interests between organisations, managing roles, relationships, competencies, and practices.

Some of the roles they can play include:

  • Matchmaking between buyers and sellers
  • Targeted support to enable deals
  • Involving, committing, and mobilising actors
  • Development of information resources and evidence
  • Advisory services (primarily to buyers)
  • Direct advocacy and advice to policymakers
  • Public speaking and communications about social procurement
  • Establishing and enacting legitimacy
  • Social impact measurement
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