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Building Bridges: Auckland Chamber of Commerce links with Pacific Business Trust’s network

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Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Bridges and Pacific Business Trust chief executive Mary Los’e.

The Auckland Chamber of Commerce has struck up a partnership with the Pacific economic development agency.

Chamber chief executive Simon Bridges said doing business with the Pacific Business Trust, which will have an office within the chamber’s Auckland office, made good commercial and business sense.

The chamber has well-established and successful relationships with several Pacific trade and business councils enabling business links and opportunities between New Zealand and the Pacific region.

It has now looked at home and connected with New Zealand agency, the Pacific Business Trust.

“That’s why it is important for the collaboration with the Pacific Business Trust – the Pacific economic development agency – because Auckland’s the biggest city, it’s where commerce [is], it’s multicultural and, if we want to be relevant, we have to do that,” Bridges said.

“It is the right thing to do at a moral level and [we] are working our way into partnerships and also in [a] self-interested sense and seeing what’s going to work as a collective partnership.”

Simon Bridges, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, in his Auckland office. Photo / Jed Bradley
Simon Bridges, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, in his Auckland office. Photo / Jed Bradley

Trust chief executive Mary Los’e said working alongside Bridges and the chamber would help support the 2281 Pacific-owned New Zealand businesses, which employ more than 125,000 people.

“Our Pacific businesses are saying to us, show us how we can participate and be competitive in the market, how can we create a difference, they already have the ideas, the resilience and can-do attitude,” Los’e said.

“[The trust] is providing solid, future-focused advice and by having the confidence and maturity to look outside ourselves for support and partnering opportunities with Simon and the Auckland Chamber, makes sense and enables pathways for greater success for Pacific business owners.”

Bridges has had several discussions with Los’e and they are both on the same page on how to make a collaborative approach benefit all parties.

“Mary has literally transformed that business in a very short time too and she’s leading it to operate as the Pacific economic development agency,” Bridges said.

“This is good for business, it’s good for communities, it’s good for Auckland and ultimately it’s good for New Zealand.”

Bridges said Auckland was the multicultural capital of the Pacific and that needs to be reflected.

Businessman Paul Retimanu.
Businessman Paul Retimanu.

He said the chamber also had a major focus on ethnic businesses – Chinese and Indian – and small to medium-sized enterprises.

“We are looking to get more than organic growth and the businesses are there, along with Pasifika,” Bridges said.

“Nearly half [of] our workforce are Māori and Pasifika and work in those communities.

“So our strategy is to focus on ethnic business in a way we haven’t before and focus on where we think the new economy of Auckland is and that is technology.”

Bridges said that while exploring new growth areas, strong links will be maintained to the traditional businesses of retail, hospitality and construction.

He also paid tribute to his predecessor Michael Barnett.

“For Auckland to do all the things the Government and we want it to, we’ve got to move big time into technology,” he said.

“Michael had done a great job but a couple of years in we have had some dynamic growth at the chamber … we are needed more by members and business community.

“We have had membership growth, growth in our relevance and our reach.

“My strategy has been simple – it’s been about not losing too much money on dumb stuff, refocusing back on memberships and new partnerships.”

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