Mark Robertson Shaw and Edward Te Kohu Douglas






The purpose of this YMLC was to bring together young Maori from a range of different communities to discuss common problems of the people. Such discussions were expected to promote understanding necessary to any solution, but also to establish personal contacts between young Maori from all tribes, in different communities and different socio-economic circumstances. This was expected to facilitate cooperation towards future effective action.


The YMLC, promoted leadership skills amongst young Maori and encouraged the inter-generational transfer of leadership skills, and by its very nature, addressed many of the issues associated with community capacity building, a major programme in the Government's Maori Affairs and Social Policies. The conference reflected the greater diversity of Maori society, more diverse than ever before. Participants held wider ranging vocational and social skills and expertise, and a wider range of experience and life-styles. Generational, experiential and ideological differences too, which emerged last century are issues for this century.



Historical Background


The first nation-wide YMLC was held in 1939. Others followed in 1959, 1970, and 1977. In addition, many regional Maori Leadership conferences followed up on these national conferences. All were organised through the former National Council for Adult Education. Sir Apirana Ngata was the sustaining force behind the 1939 hui. He and others wanted young leaders to examine the issues of adjustment and development in rural Maori communities. The major questions of the day were centred on land use and development. However diminishing land resources and a rising population put the consideration of off-farm employment opportunities and rural to urban relocation on the agenda as possible solutions.


The agenda for that first YMLC in 1939 covered Economic Conditions, (including Land Resources and Land Use, Work Other Than Farming, Expenditure), Housing and the Home, Health, The Community and Education.  The 1959 YMLC followed the same format as in 1939. Economic conditions related to land use and land development remaining a focal point of the conference. Although the urban migration of Maori as a solution to the economic depression of rural life had begun during World War II, and took hold in the decades that followed, the magnitude of problems related to urban adjustment took some time to manifest themselves.


At all YMLC there has been a wide social range represented, but especially at the later two in 1970 and 1977. The 2001 conference was the fifth national conference, after a gap of 23 years.  It differed most markedly from its predecessors in that the issue of leadership per se had not been addressed in depth before, whereas leadership itself was the major topic for 2001. At earlier conferences, leadership was implied, it was something that happened rather than was planned for. In the earlier conferences, it was thought that stimulating free discussion would bring home the importance and generality of the problems, and provide an incentive to the exercise of leadership. Such a demonstration of the capacity of younger people to discuss problematic conditions with sincerity and intelligence might encourage older generations to assist them and give them scope for the development and exercise of their talents.


Bishop Manuhuia Bennett the last survivor of the first conference in 1939, spoke from his home in Rotorua of his recollections to the 2001 conference through a video link. Amongst his reminiscences were the following:




·         ‘The focus of that hui was how could we improve the economic lot of the Maori people. One of the great programmes that was being introduced at that time was Ngata’s land development scheme and that saved the Maori people from utter starvation. He paid with his life almost in that job, he lost his mana in parliament, and he was put on trial, which was very unfair. That wasn’t the main focus, but it was the main pressure. And out of that pressure came many other focuses and every time that meant the group became more and more Maori. One of the side issues of those conferences was the restoration of our meetinghouses, the upgrading of our marae and the growing sense of identification with tribe, with iwi, with whanau, with hapu. But still the language was disappearing, and that was because the government was more concerned with the empire than with the nation’.


·         ‘1939 was a sort of a progress hui. The issues were; How were the land schemes going? How were the schools doing? How was Te Aute going? How was St Stephens going? One of the big differences in those times was that Maori had all sorts of things going. In everything that went on in the Maori world, there was always a hui for the people. They had big hockey tournaments in Omahu and Hastings. All the kaingas would get together at Omahu. They would put up a temporary raupo house where everybody slept. They played sports all day and then they would go to late at night discussing the problems of the people. That was when Api and them would appear, at night, and lecture the players. The players wouldn’t take part in the discussion, but Api and them would bring their policies forward and tell us what was going on. Very inspiring. And of course they talked about whakapapa and how to do up the marae’.


Sir Graham Latimer attended the 1959 Young Maori Leaders’ Conference; initially he thought it was to have a big party to celebrate the conferring of a doctoral degree on Pat Hohepa. In his address to the 2001 conference Sir Graham spoke of his recollections.


·         Some years ago I ended up at the conference of young leaders and to some extent I thought that we really had gone up there to have a free hangi and to enjoy ourselves. The major part of the hui was when Pat Hohepa got his degree.








Both before and during the conference we received very little media coverage, despite The F.I.R.S.T. Foundation keeping newspapers and broadcasters informed. When we were forced to change the venue from the Grand Hall of Parliament to the Michael Fowler Centre we informed the Press Gallery, radio and television, but no newspapers or main stream media turned up at the conference. Although there was a good representation of Maori media during the conference, the complete lack of coverage by mainstream media continued throughout. During the conference a group of about 30 young participants marched to parliament to present a petition against Genetic Engineering. That made the news and coverage from the main stream. Is there a media expectation that what happens at a Maori Young Maori Leaders Conference where a diverse group of 450 young people are meeting, is not news? Is any hint of a confrontation between Maori (even such a small group) and Government news?


One of the more disappointing aspects of the decision to march to parliament with the anti-GE petition was the lack of strategic thinking by the marchers. While they were planning their march, a panel of MPs, including three Government ministers and two former ministers, plus representatives from other parties, were speaking to the conference. Had the anti GE petition been presented to the parliamentarians they would have had to respond; which after all was the purpose of the petition. Strategic thinking and leadership would have appraised the occasion and adapted an appropriate strategy.





Publicity for this conference was through the Internet only. In late May when we were able to confirm that the conference would go ahead, the Foundation sent out pre-conference information to a fraction of those on our current database of 14,000. Within a week we had the first registration. If we had used our full database, we believe that we would have been inundated with registrations. Under those circumstances no one would have been able to cope. As it was when we advised some enquirers that we might have to limit registrations we were threatened that they would take up the matter of their exclusion with the Minister of Maori Affairs himself. These were clear indications of the demand for this type of leadership forum.


Demand far outstripped our original estimates of 180 to 200 participants. Initially the size of the conference was determined by the 220 maximum capacity of the Great Hall in Parliament, which was our original venue. Indeed when we had 200 registrations and were still four weeks from the opening of the conference, we had to inform enquirers that we would soon close registration and to register quickly if they wanted to ensure acceptance. This resulted in a flood of enquiries and registrations from prospective participants. We had to make a quick decision to shift to a larger venue in Wellington.  Once the shift to the Michael Fowler Centre had been confirmed, we informed all who enquired that the venue had been changed and that there would be plenty of room for further registrations.  As it was, although the main auditorium at the MFC has capacity for 1300, a conference like this one, which involved six breakout workshop groups, stretched the facilities available to near capacity.





All in all, there were close to 450 participants at this conference. Similar conferences last century had between forty and one hundred participants. In 2001 they came from all sectors of Maori society, although not surprisingly those not in full time paid employment were poorly represented. Other sectors not well represented were post-graduate and senior university students and Maori working in commerce and business. Most participants had their registrations; travel and accommodation paid by their employers or received partial financial support from employers or their iwi authorities. Few paid for their own registrations. A small number of participants were critical of the advancing age of speakers and panel members, but as the conference progressed and its themes unfolded, such critisims disappeared.


During the conference there were several calls for more regular leadership conferences in future. This was a resolution passed unanimously in the final plenary session.  Some participants complained; about the cost, the venue, or the format; some were just critical. But overall, critics were few in number.  Most participants were more realistic and conscious of the facts. On the commercial market, a two-day conference of this quality and venue costs three times what was charged for YMLC 2001. If the paepae is left open and not controlled, it is impossible to keep to the tight time schedule necessary to meet the needs of our guest speakers.


 A few participants would have preferred a different venue. They stated that such a conference should have been held on a marae and better conform to their understanding of kawa and tikanga. Yet the same people were also critical of the almost universal tikanga that requires rangatahi and taiohi to respect the decisions of their elders. If a conference is held at a marae, most of the real costs are ‘below the line’ and are met by te iwi kainga. We expect that on reflection, critics will appreciate that their comments had little foundation, especially when considered in the light of pre-conference publicity, which was well known. People registered for this conference knowing full well who would speak, what they would speak on and the order of proceedings. They always had the choice to stay away.





The programme for this conference was carefully constructed to cover two major issues relating to leadership. The first day was primarily devoted to leadership development and the intergenerational transfer of leadership. The second day concentrated on leadership in action. Speakers were chosen from a wide range of sectors, disciplines and iwi, and ranged from the Prime Minister Helen Clark to other politicians, clerics, senior public servants, iwi leaders, businessmen, academics, lawyers and other professionals. Young leaders at the hui had ample opportunity to participate through question time after each speaker or panel and in the six concurrent workshops on day two.


Recognising that leadership does not develop in a vacuum, speakers were chosen from amongst Maoridom's current leadership who were able to present a wide range of experiences, ideas and perspectives to the next generation of leaders. On the first day, devoted to leadership development and transfer, presenters included participants at Young Maori leadership conferences last century including Bishop Manuhuia Bennett, Turoa Royal, Sir Graham Latimer and Ihakara Puketapu. To critique Government strategies in leadership development over the last two decades we had a panel comprising two former Chief Executives of the Department or Ministry of Maori Affairs, Ihakara Puketapu and John Clarke, and the current Chief Executive of Te Puni Kokiri, Leith Comer. This first day included time devoted to the Raukawa trustees tribal development strategy Whakatupuranga Rua mano that was presented by Petina Winiata and Turoa Royal of Te Wananga o Raukawa.  The Associate Minister, Hon Tariana Turia, spoke to the topic ‘What Our Community Expects From Its Leaders’.  Restoration and the intergenerational transfer of leadership is an integral part of Maori leadership development. Many of today’s leaders spoke about how the mantle of leadership had passed to them and encouraged young people to prepare themselves well for the inevitable transfer of leadership to them.


The second day was mainly devoted to Leadership in Action. Participants were asked to envisage the society they wanted their children and mokopuna to inherit; to look forward to the years 2020 and 2040 and set specific goals and discuss appropriate strategies to achieve them. The F.I.R.S.T. Foundation wanted more direct input from younger adults in planning for Ngai Tatou 2020, and to integrate these development strategies with the longer-term view of the New Zealand Maori Council’s proposals for the second centenary of the Treaty of Waitangi in 2040. Some sessions on day two were devoted to concurrent workshops which participants were required to select at time of registration. Very well qualified practitioners in their fields convened the workshops. Workshop members discussed existing information, set specific sectorial goals and discussed ways of measuring progress towards those goals.


Participants in each of the six concurrent workshops discussed existing knowledge on their broad topic, tried to set preferred goal outcomes, strategies and reviews with Ngai Tatou 2020 and Rua Rautau planning strategies. The workshops were Indigenous People and Justice, Indigenous Rights; Governance and Accountability; Water: Values; Uses and Rights; Land Resources, Maximising Uses and Benefits; Health and Indigenous Peoples; Language, Education and Identity; Relationships; Children, Whanau and Community. The workshops then reported back to a plenary session of the conference where ideas and proposals from all the workshops were scrutinized by all present.



Outcomes And Policy Implications


All registered participants, speakers, panellists and others associated with ‘Hui-a-Taiohi, 2001 -Young Maori Leaders Conference, 2001’ receive a bound copy of conference proceedings. This includes an electronic copy in CD format. The proceedings were included in the individual registration fee. Copies are also available for public libraries, research institutes and other educational institutions from F.I.R.S.T.


Four major policy needs emerged from the YMLC 2001. They relate to -

·         Networking and Information Transfer

·         The Challenge of Personal and Community Introspection

·         Community Leadership Development and,

·         Medium Term and Long Term Strategic Planning


The F.I.R.S.T. Foundation proposes a programme integrated into a wider capacity-building strategy which relies on an multi-pronged approach to leadership. Such an approach combines iwi, regional, national and inter-national networking with skill and applications and other aspects of leadership development. The Foundation proposes the following for policy consideration:



Networking and Information Transfer


Any policy developments that relate to this conference should consider how to maximize the benefits of networking to all parties concerned, and what sort of promotion of opportunities to networking are appropriate. Decisions about the frequency and format of such opportunities should take into account the integrated nature of leadership development and the roles exercised by a network of well-informed hapu/iwi communities and Maori leaders. There was a clear need and call for more frequent YMLC in future. Integrating them into a future development strategy such as Ngai Tatou 2020, Rua Rautau (or at a regional level, Ngai Tahu 2025) is recommended, as is involving younger cohorts of potential Maori leadership. Another proposal about networking is to take the concept of YMLC to regional hui as was done in the 1960s following on from the 1959 YMLC.  Many iwi do not have the financial or human resources to go it alone in leadership development, but through regional and national hui, they can share resources and increase their capacity for hapu and iwi leadership, as The Raukawa Trustees have done in their 1975-2000 development strategy ‘Whakatupuranga Rua mano’. This would meet the expectation of kanohi ki te kanohi networking so highly valued by Maori.



Future, Regular Young Maori Leadership Conferences.


The final plenary session unanimously resolved that there be more, regular Young Maori Leadership Conferences in future. Some participants wanted another such conference in 2002. The F.I.R.S.T. Foundation recommends that they be integrated into their Ngai Tatou 2020 strategy and the Rua Rautau strategy proposed by the NZ Maori Council. This would mean a Nationwide Young Maori Leadership Conference at least every five years to coincide with the release of information from the quinquennial Census of Population and Dwellings (NZ census enumerations are held in years ending in 1 and 6; the next census will be in 2006). Future YMLC should use the issues and data of the day to facilitate young Maori leadership development and information transfer. This would be enhanced by the kanohi ki te kanohi interaction implied.


Regional Maori Leadership Conferences


We further recommend that regional young leaders’conferences be held in the next two years aimed at attracting younger Maori men and women (aged 16-22) who would normally be engaged in secondary or tertiary study or at the beginning of their adult working careers. At these weekend hui, which would be residential, participants at the YMLC 2001 from each region would act as facilitators and lead discussions. Naturally there will be adjustments to the hui programmes from that of YMLC 2001 to recognise the different experiences and needs of these younger cohorts. 


Consistent with Government’s Capacity- Building policy, Regional hui would be expected to provide these major benefits


                                                                        Role modelling


Strategic development planning


Development of leadership potential


Strategic development planning


Community and iwi leadership development

Kanohi ki te kanohi interaction



Social Leadership Programme


This final proposal emanating from YMLC 2001 presents Government with the opportunity to promote and support an intense, integrated and long-term leadership development strategy through the Social Leadership Programme offered by a specific institution, the primary focus of which will be Leadership.


The problems of last century, as discussed at previous YMLC are still with us. Other problems have been added which relate to our predominantly urban life-styles and our greater interface with the rest of the world, as noted by Bishop Bennett and Sir Graham Latimer above. None of the above strategies on their own will provide the cadre of social and community leaders that will be required. To steer New Zealanders to the end goals of medium and long-term development strategies which better integrate Maori ideas into the nation and which have been called for by Ihakara Puketapu, Sir Graham Latimer and other leaders, requires a more comprehensive effort.  Any suggestion that integrated leadership can be developed by two day hui every now-and-again is unrealistic. What is required is a sustained programme of leadership development, which requires close interaction over two years rather than two days.


The F.I.R.S.T. Foundation also proposes establishing The New Zealand Leadership Centre (NZLC) in association with a tertiary institution.  The Centre would offer one and two year hands-on leadership programmes. The one-year intensive programme in social and community leadership involves competitive selection followed by approximately 20 days per year of lectures/field work, plus written assignments. Successful graduates would be eligible to join the NZLC Alumni. It would have a similar standing to other Executive Diplomas. The two-year programme has an entry requirement of successful completion of the first year and current membership of the NZLC Alumni. It would involve an additional programme of meetings, lectures and assessed field assignments spread over a further year and would be equivalent to an executive MBA except that the programmes are centred on leadership development rather than specific business skills. Students and graduates of the first two years would have their programme of studies integrated into other Maori leadership strategies, including regional leadership hui and the proposed International Indigenous Peoples Congress in 2004 to review the U.N. International Decade for Indigenous Peoples, a development strategy which was sponsored by New Zealand at the General Assembly.


Whatever leadership policies and strategies arise from this hui and are adopted, we leave you with some of the wisdom of Sir Graham Latimer, which he imparted to conference participants. 


·         ‘So we will go into the new world that you will lead us into and we must be prepared to work hard to listen to the people. The hardest job is to listen to the people. To listen to the people, to pick up the challenge and take your race forward into tomorrow that is the challenge that you are fighting now, you must lead and you must take responsibility’.


·         ‘The people will need your guidance far greater over the next fifty years than ours did in the past.  We were in an era where we didn’t have motorcars, we never had dope we never had all these extras that come along in life’.


·         ‘Now that you have set out to lead the people make sure that when you arrive at your destination you have still got the people with you. Otherwise you have wasted their time and you have wasted your own time’.


·         ‘Power is like an intoxicating liquor, too much of it and it goes to your head. So learn to cultivate that power’.


·         ‘The world in front of us, it is your responsibility. You must develop that world so that our people who follow you in days to come will be equally as proud of their position within this country as we are today’.


·         ‘Its like this; if you don’t lead you will be led. You must lead but if you don’t you will be led’.


·         ‘If you think you can’t do it, then you won’t do it. But if you think you can do it then you should do it’.