From GO to FRO – The Dynamics between Government Organisations and Flax Roots Organisations

Kym Hamilton - Ngati Kahungunu, Nga Rauru, Ngati Raukawa, Iwi education
manager and mother of two beautiful tamariki

Paper Abstract:

This jointly presented paper presents a view of the organisational and
personal struggles associated with living and working in a 'white
supremacist capitalist patriarchy' as defined by bell hooks and the culture
of silence and oppression of working with 'our' people who act as
'oppressors of the oppressed' as represented by Paolo Freire.  We
recognise without hope there is hopelessness.

As university graduates and women committed to the advancement of kaupapa
Maori futures for our tamariki, Kym and Marama discuss frankly the
ideological and philosophical dilemmas facing our people and structures in
creating spaces and positive change for our tamariki and whanau.  These have
been personal and evolutionary journeys created through education and life

Maori development in every shape and form is often romanticised and
protected as sacrosanct at the risk of providing fodder for media and
political exploitation.  Our people who have pure and laudable intentions
are often disempowered and sacrificed to the cause.  This paper takes off
the 'rose tinted' glasses and attempts to provide understanding and a
framework for thought and action that is as simple as asking the question
and providing the answers about 'whose interests are being served' in the
work that we do, government contracts, regulations and legislations and
structures we replicate and emulate.

Case studies from working for government, working in Maori development and
education illustrate the lessons and the difficulties in staying true to the
kaupapa and the small contributions we can all make to the kaupapa.

This paper provides a challenge for a unified whanau, hapu, iwi and Maori
response to the divide and conquer techniques of the crown and our own
people to create a critical mass that will support a positive future for our
tamariki where they don't have to be warriors because we have done that mahi
already.  The HIKOI has provided an example, platform and metaphor for
whanau, hapu, iwi and Maori development, unity and strength that we need to
replicate to address the barrage of issues facing our people today.

Kym Hamilton, Kaiwhakahaere Matauranga , Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated

 Ko Pakiaka te maunga, Ko Waiau to Awa, Ko Ngai Tama Te Rangi, Ngati Hine Manuhiri me Ngati Whaita nga Hapu. Ko Ngati Kahungunu, Nga Rauru me Ngati Raukawa nga Iwi


But today
people are very polite
they only kill you with words
or paper
I have to be very good
and you will have to be 'nice as pie' too.

If I raise my voice (God forbid a fist!)
then I will be considered another emotional native,
out of control, not rational.
A woman without facts
is a very vulnerable woman indeed
in this place, these times.

(excerpt from Stolen Dreams, a poem by Roma Potiki)

 This presentation is inspired by the desire to share some of the ways I have experienced Crown-Maori dynamics and power relations both as a public servant and as an iwi education worker.  For me these issues highlight the challenges that face us in realising and creating a society of tino rangatiratanga.  Everyone has stories to share that can help us provide better and more insightful leadership practices and support in all avenues of work..  When I first spoke to Marama about presenting at this conference we agreed that it was far better for us to present information that was rooted in our experiences, rather than the knowledge created by others.  I consider myself to be quite ordinary, but fortunate in both my life and work.  I have whanau and friends who I love and who love me.  I find hard research interesting, but less often inspiring.  It is the stories, the experiences and the observations that spark a debate or conversation, thought or idea or challenge a belief.  These are the times and things we wanted, to bring to this conference.  Marama Ngawhika, who is unable be here today has been instrumental in giving me the simplest frame of reference for analysing decisions and behaviour.  She received this wisdom from a kuia.  This framework is the question “Whose interests are being served?”.  I am grateful to my whanaunga Charlie Ropitini who agreed to present his whakaaro on leadership as someone who like me has travelled overseas and who is embarking on the intellectual journey through university.  I know that Charlie is destined for greatness and has already achieved so much in his life, providing leadership and inspiration to students he has taught overseas and to his whanau at home.

 I want to share some personal stuff with those of you who don’t know me in an attempt to help you understand where I am coming from.

 I am the eldest daughter of Bill and Phillipa Hamilton who have both had a long association with education as teachers, principals and as teachers’ union workers.  I have a younger brother and sister who have supported the NZ brain drain by moving to Australia some years ago.  I worked for 8 years in the bar and restaurant scene to subsidise my student loan and spent a couple of years working as a reliever in an early childhood centre. 

 I have an incomplete Masters thesis that was to be on Maori single mothers and education and every year my fear that my thesis would rest amongst the dust of a university library grows fainter.  The changing demographics of Maori households and the increasing social isolation highlights that there is a need to address the issues for changing Maori families.  Somehow we need to ensure that we have the faith and skills to realise our aspirations, but at this time and for myself, I am not convinced that a thesis is best way of achieving this.  I have seen first hand how little good research influences policy and legislative development.

 Despite this, I began work in the public service in 1998 starting with the Ministry of Education as a contract co-ordinator and playing Maori policy analyst musical chairs through Te Puni Kokiri, back to the Ministry of Education – two divisions - and then on to the Department of Internal Affairs.  Late in 2003 I was fortunate to be selected by Ngati Kahungunu to become their Education Manager.

I have two wonderful and amazing children; both boys aged ten and four, to two different fathers. 


I have learned a few of things over the years.

 I have learned that when your child is being bullied for being a whitey in a Kura Kaupapa that it is easier to change the way he deals with it than the way the school deals with it.  In this case it is easier to provide my son with skills and understanding to deal with the pressure than change the culture of an institution.

I have learned that a three year old can have a political education, every time my baby hears the word “government” on the radio he tells me that they are mean because they took our moana and we should go to Wellington and kick them in the ure.  A political education can never start too early.

 I have learned that government policy development has little to do with good advice, evidence and research and more to do with the wishes, whims and dictates of Ministers who may or may not know what they are talking about. 

I have learned that while public service managers may not be brighter or more informed that you, they certainly wield a lot of power.  I am learning to accept that most people want to do the best that they can, but also that the entrenched behaviours of organisations and individuals limit the ability to be truly effective in creating positive change. 

 I have had many public service friends and colleagues, support staff and managers, who have shared similar ideologies and philosophies for change, and who have been either completely burnt out through trying to the right thing in their work or disillusioned by the inability of the organisation and its upper hierarchy to provide the necessary tools and support to make effective change.

 Formal Education lessons

 In 1997 as a full time masters student I wrote a paper for a Maori education class the topic was Tou Moemoea mo te Matauranga Maori.  Eight years ago I wrote of the yearning for Maori power and control over education, society and our own destinies.  I subscribed to the fear that Maori medium education may be providing another tool to a colonised reality for our tamariki with the Pakeha standards, curriculum and regulations, impacting on what was intended to be a Kaupapa Maori experience.  An example of this was given at a language revitalisation workshop I attended recently.  One of the speakers asked what a hanuiti was and asked us to write it down.  The case in point is that many of us wrote that it was a sandwich, rather than he kai I waenganui.  Another challenge from this presenter, was that we have a nation of language learners who we need to turn into speakers as quickly as possible, the price if we don’t is that when our kaumatua generation disappears so does the informal nature and fun of te reo Maori.

 At University, I loved the Maori education theorists including Wally Penetito, Whaea Rose Pere, Mason Durie and Matua Rangihau.  What these theories were unable to show me was the strategies for turning back the tide of the ‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’- somehow we need to be able to move beyond the control, rules and regulations of Crown financiers and being able to deal with these power structures on an equal footing.  I believe that this is still a path of discovery and challenge for all of us.  These teachers and theorists were the leaders who inspired me to think in terms of tinorangatiratanga.

 When I was a student I was pretty naive or hopeful about the changes I would make to life, New Zealand and the universe in my lifetime.  I always believed that my studies at university were providing me with the ideal theoretical understandings to influence change.  University and other learning can be liberating in this way. 

 While I was studying at university I had my first son.  Although I was already involved in education, as a parent, the education of my child increased my awareness and expectations.  My son was initially in mainstream early childhood education, a centre at which I had been a reliever and I was really happy with this but realised that what I couldn’t give him was the reo, something I regard as central to Maori identity, so I chose kohanga reo. 

 The decision for me to place my children in kaupapa Maori education for me has been based in the challenge to follow tinorangatiratanga in education.  Sometimes good, sometimes bad.  My 10 year old went to three kohanga and has been to one reo rumaki and two kura kaupapa.  My four year old has been to four kohanga reo.  It seems sometimes that the more you know about education the harder it is to find institutions that can support your expectations.

 Is New Zealand a White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy?

One of my favourite authors, a black American writer and academic, bell hooks, in describing America, claims that social hierarchy is not only based on the subordination of women, it is also white supremacist and capitalist.

This results in a society in which theoretically men are the powerful, women the powerless; capitalists the powerful, workers the powerless; white people the powerful, non-white people the powerless. Gender, class and race shape society. But in reality it is more complex than theory. Not all brothers are equally powerful and not all sisters are equally oppressed. At times, class or racial status trumps the rule of the brothers.

 Bell hooks has shown me how to understand the challenges to tino rangatiratanga for indigenous and minority peoples at a global level.  For me, she has inspired my thinking and given voice to my frustrations with social, political, and racial issues.  I read her books and essays about sexism, racism, class issues, capitalism and find myself nodding, laughing, crying and generally feeling ‘right on sister!’.   Ms hooks embodies the intellectual side of the struggle to realise tino rangatiratanga.  She identifies the ability of everyone to be able to read and write and participate in the world is one of the most important challenges to society today.  I concur.  

Kawai ora[1], the working party report on Maori adult literacy defined Maori literacy as “Reading the world, reading the word, and being the world”.  This group defined literacy in a Maori context to include being bilingual to being multi-lingual in terms of being versed in whakapapa and reading geography, tukutuku and whakaairo and understanding body language for how it relates to relationships and understanding what is not said, as much as what is said.  These are things that impact on our ability to relate to others and to articulate our own identity.  More than mainstream education at this time, kaupapa Maori education, wananga and whanau have the potential to provide this holistic literacy to our whanau and our tamariki.

 Moana Jackson, Mereana Pitman, Annette Sykes, Mike Smith, Ken Mair and Whaea Tariana all provide modern day leadership for me towards rangatiratanga – I think it is shameful that it has taken many of us Maori so long to catch up and cotton on to the programme.  As an aside, I remember in a university class I was told about a class asked to identify 10 Activists.  Half of them were to be non-Maori.

 In the end we can all recount the ways in which NZ is a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, the personal ways we have felt it, the disgraceful demon-graphics attributed to Maori in comparison to non-Maori.  What does this matter?  The  overarching challenge for Tinorangatiratanga is redressing the balance of power and control to create better futures as whanau, hapu, iwi, organisations and individuals.

The Art of War

The Art of War is a book has been used in corporate business planning to strategise in a competitive dog eat dog world, and I suspect also in political campaign planning.  It was written more than 2000 years ago by a Chinese War Strategist - Sun Tzu.  What I learned from this book was that there is a need to know your enemy in order to create change and win the war[2].

 Sun Tzu provided enlightenment to the pains of understanding our history, struggles, power imbalances.  He reminds us that the enemy is not really any one individual, but the combined efforts of a dominant mass of people and culture and the systems that sustain it. 

 Sun Tzu also highlights the need for effective moral leadership that captures the hearts and minds of followers, along with the sneaky skills required for intelligence gathering and ways to expose the weakness of your enemy.

 The creation of the Maori party has captured the hearts and minds of many of us.  The destiny and success of this party rests on all our shoulders, their success will be our success, their failure, ours too.  I don’t know that I can stress strongly enough how I believe that the Maori party has provided us with unique opportunity to challenge the nature of democracy and representation in this country.  The genesis of this party was our hopes and dreams for our mokopuna and ourselves.  This kaupapa has not changed.

 I believe that it is useful to have Maori working for the government, providing they are in positions making important and well informed decisions, providing policy advice, programme funding and intelligence gathering that serves and works for Maori.  

When I was working for TPK or the Ministry of Maori development, the agency had two main functions.  One was to influence the policies of mainstream government agencies to ensure they were more effective for Maori and the other was an audit function to discover where Maori targeted funding was being spent and how effectively this was being spent.   For all its faults and flaws, Closing the Gaps report and the audit function of TPK had a huge effect on improving the prioritisation of government funding and the threat or rumour of a TPK audit certainly improved the monitoring and tracking of this money and some creative reporting on how mainstream funding was benefiting Maori.  A visiting Canadian educator commenting on issues of continuous assessment stated that “you can’t keep weighing the cow, you need to feed the cow”, a statement I hold true.  However, if no-one cares about the cow enough to weigh it, they are unlikely to feed it!  Things that go unmeasured, take on a low priority.

 The Great White Right Way? 

I started writing this paper around Waitangi day this year and have a few thoughts to share on this. 

 Maori attend Waitangi to remember their tipuna and commemorate the signing of the founding document of the Treaty relationship with Tipuna Pakeha.  And what does the Crown do today? 

James Busby, Henry Williams, Richard Taylor, John Mason, Samuel Ironside and the others must be turning in their graves at the behaviour of their descendents and crown role inheritors.  They travelled to places unknown (well to them!) outnumbered many times over by Tangata Whenua at a time when Pakeha laws had no place in this land to try and establish an agreement with the local people.  Did they leave Waitangi and turn tail back to England because they were abused and threatened or did they cry when the natives said mean things to them in their korero?  When I went to England in the early nineties, I was quite indignant that all those English people had never heard of the Treaty of Waitangi.  However, I am even more indignant about the political and media advantage taken through mainstream New Zealand’s positional ignorance.   

What is really going on between Crown and Iwi?

A paper commissioned by a government agency and undertaken by a Maori consultancy – IC Solutions[3] on the relationships between iwi organisations and government organisations came to the unsurprising conclusion that the Crown is unwilling to engage in true partnership practice. 

 This report identified the need for Government agency middle managers (including Maori managers) to undertake decolonisation.  Iwi saw these bureaucrats as gatekeepers, treating iwi as sub-ordinate employees.  It was also suggested that often Maori public servants engaged in power struggles with iwi organisations, because of their own fragmentation from their authentic Maori identities and their adoption of rangatira as the pedagogy and culture of their government organisations.   

This suggestion is rather well illustrated by the crown dictating that Maori public servants were not to participate in the Hikoi.  There is a provocative story published by one our Native American whanaunga who describes what it means to be a ‘good native for all seasons’ and sums up the theory by Paolo Freire on how the oppressed become the oppressors of their own people.   

The new ''good Indians'' owe their positions to the struggles of modern Indian-rights warriors or hostiles. As soon as they are on the payroll, they try to erase the institutional memory of those who got them there, the history of the journey and the reasons for the struggle in the first place.

The ''good Indians'' are shameless about palming off the wisdom and achievements of the new ''hostiles'' as their own. If non-Indians don't like any of the ideas, the ''good Indians'' immediately condemn them as too controversial, too political, too radical and too, well, hostile.[4]

 The report on tangata whenua-crown relationships suggests that there is a fear and/or lack of understanding of the aspirations of iwi.  To assume that white imperatives are the best frame of reference for our development as a nation is racist and full of white privilege and smacks of the same reasoning that caused the War on Iraq, the dropping of the Hiroshima bomb and the creation of concentration camps during World War Two.  Concentration camp survivors talked about the most critical value being tolerance and the importance of remembering the past or history in order to avoid repeating it.

 As individuals, Maori represent the worst health, education and justice statistics, However, as collective whanau, hapu, iwi and communities we also represent people who know that the loss of our reo me ona tikanga (aroha, manaaki, whanaungatanga, wairuatanga etc), the destruction of our collective capacity to practice our tikanga will mark the end of our existence as a people.  I believe it is this that gives kaha to our fight for tino rangatiratanga.

 The messages we are hearing in the media is that Maori aspirations and economic development have no place in New Zealand society.  Like most other indigenous peoples, the systematic theft and undermining of our taonga has created a situation where Maori hereditary wealth has been diminished in size and value to feed the Pakeha inheritance of land, culture and economic and social opportunity.   

One of our Kahungunu kaumatua tells a story of a native American taking his son to go and see a Western movie.  When Dad asks his son what he thought of the film his son replied sad and confused “ Dad, don’t we ever win?” 

The growth of the cultural advisory services in government and for government has been to the detriment of our tikanga.  The dial-a-powhiri for welcoming new senior Pakeha staff and overseas visitors, adopt a Maori second name (Te Tahuhu o te Matauranga/Ministry of Education), karakia to bless the building, begin our meeting have been systematically abused and misappropriated.  The intention of well meaning Maori public servants and Maori consultants believing that they were increasing the likelihood of improved treatment of Maori staff and clients is a falsehood come home to roost. 

I have been one of those ‘good natives’ or well meaning Maori public servants, truly believing that I could make a difference from the inside-out.  During this time I worked for four agencies, one of them twice.  I was grateful for the opportunities to earn a decent pay check and turn my brain to negotiating inside and outside of my agency for policies, programmes and practices that would be more effective for Maori.  I don’t know if the experience has turned me into a pessimist or a cynic or if I was already halfway there when I was at university.  The dilemma for me is that I have an expectation that the changes that are required to really make differences that are both effective for Maori and effective for the whole country are being stifled or stymied by bureaucrats at ministerial and agency management levels.  It has taken me some time, but what I have grown to believe that what is good for Maori is good for everyone. 

I am justice driven and can’t help myself getting involved in a good scrap when friends and colleagues are treated badly.   

Over the past few years I have found myself involved in supporting Maori public servants in situations where, generally, Pakeha Managers have had assumed Maori identity and culture was part of what these staff members were required to give, even though none of them were hired to a cultural advice position. Issues of white privilege and the culture of whiteness are priority areas for greater public examination and debate.  This is a field of study that is growing and Peggy Macintosh[5] highlights some of the often unseen aspects of white privilege in statements such as:

I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes or not answer letters without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race

            I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group

When I am told about our national heritage or about civilisations, I am shown that people of my colour made it what it is

I can criticise our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behaviour without being seen as a cultural outsider. 

Why do our politicians and state figureheads find it so hard to see that normal white and western practices already dominate our lives to the detriment of Maori world view practice?  Most recently, they want to encroach on the last bastion of the Maori world, the marae and the powhiri.  Treating the powhiri like some fast food menu option, eat in or take away, the suggestions of a new improved McDonalds powhiri is a farce.    Perhaps we as iwi and Maori should reconsider where, when and to whom we will bestow this traditional honour.   

Sometimes my focus has been on the remedies for the injustice and the battle, rather than focussing on how to get everyone through a situation with their mana intact, or winning the war for justice.  These are things that I rely heavily on my mentors, friends and colleagues to help me with.  Patience is a virtue, but not one of mine.  I know that I am bright, but I am still working on being wise.  I have a lot to learn from others, and I doubt this will ever change. 

Iwi Mahi and Leadership

In working for the iwi as an education manager, I am inspired by our mission that seeks to enhance the mana and well-being Ngati Kahungunu whanau whanui.  I am also proud that we have a statement in our strategic vision that “we will not compromise our principles for financial expediency”.  I am also heartened that we are seeking to serve and empower whanau as the core of our education strategy. 

When I first started in this role I approached it a bit like Clark Kent throwing off his clothes to become Superman.  I threw off the fetters of the public service and was righteous and flying that tinorangtiratanga flag high in the face of bureaucracy, mostly with the support of my board and the organisation.  I was personally affronted at some of the agency behaviours, even through I wasn’t really surprised.  An informal paper from the states I read, titled NGO - friend or foe stated that almost any government agency or service acts as an agent for stability or continuity with a tendency to block or at least slow down change, whereas the voluntary sector exists to bring about change – in individuals and in society.  Not everything you read on the net is true, but this provides some explanation of the tensions.  This paper also highlighted a list of the common perceptions that both parties often have about one another. 

The adage ‘that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar is as true’ as is the one that states “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.  The challenge is to make sure that in negotiating government contracts we are working from our principles and are vigilant in ensuing that the work that we are undertaking primarily serves our members, our people.  If our work serves both the crown and the iwi goals then we are justified in seeking government funding.  It is not our job to do the work of government, but rather to achieve what they cannot. 

In addition to seeking the guidance of the board in decisions and dilemmas, I am fortunate in having an amazing General Manager who is totally driven by the mission and values of Ngati Kahungunu for the benefit of mokopuna and tamariki.  She is a true peacemaker and collaborator and works across health, housing, fisheries and a has created a range of tangible achievements for the iwi organisation and our people.  Her political consciousness is pretty well aligned with mine, which makes it easy to both seek out and listen to her advice.   

I tend to phone up my Dad in Wellington when I need a bit of support or advice about iwi politics or government agency issues – he was a negotiator in the Nga Rauru Treaty Settlement and challenged how the term reasonable and honourable would be included in the settlement, amongst other things.   

My mother has recently completed a negotiation and dispute resolution course and has a long history in Education.  She has been invaluable in reigning in my often hot-headed and so-honest-it-burns approach.   

For comfort, a good slap and pono ki te kaupapa korero I rely on my friends like Marama, some of them iwi workers and some of them government workers.  These are all people who constantly support, challenge and contribute to my leadership beliefs and actions.  I would hope that they view this relationship as reciprocal!  I believe that good leaders are also lead by others and I think that Whaea Tariana demonstrated this in walking away from the Labour party. 

In sharp contrast to the public service,  most people who are working for Maori, hapu, whanau and iwi are volunteers.  These are roles that we pick up because we truly want to make a difference and feel that we have an authentic voice to give to our work.  This often comes at a huge cost to these people, personally and financially.  This cost of Maori leadership is perfectly illustrated in one of the most interesting biographies I have ever read. This biography on Sir Graham Latimer by Noel Harrison was published in 2002.   

Latimer’s biography provided insight into the values, behaviours and attitudes of politicians and successive governments.  It paints clear pictures of the political football that Maori-Pakeha race relations are in New Zealand.  It is frightening because it shows just how overwhelming the size and might of our opponent is and how little things have changed over the decades.  It follows that while race relations in this country remain so poor, that crown-iwi relationships will continue to be problematic.  Amongst other things, ignorant publicly displayed attitudes inferring that Maori should both be grateful and willingly accept being continually compromised, in terms of Crown prerogatives, will be to blame for continued racial disharmony in Aotearoa.   

A momentous inspiration in Maori leadership was, of course, the Hikoi Takutai Moana.  It was amazing in so many ways.  From a Hauora perspective it has been cited as one of the greatest health interventions, the hikoi through towns, the uplifting of the wairua.  As an education intervention, I believe it was notable for the number of Maori submissions, the critical analysis, and political education and action our people realised through participating in the hikoi.  Perhaps if the more recently formed orange ribbon protestors had joined us on the hikoi with their tractors, the labour government may have been more inclined to heed our cry. 

The might of collective whanau, hapu and iwi is a wonderful cause for celebration and challenge to replicate in our dealings with the crown.  As whanau, as hapu and as iwi, as people interested in better futures for our tamariki and our mokopuna in Aotearoa we need to pull together.  We must avoid the Crown divide and conquer techniques that have been our downfall over centuries – I am confident that relationships between and amongst Iwi and hapu, groups and groupings, like Treaty Tribes, can be built upon and will give us the strength to achieve our visions and missions for our people. 

There is a whakatauki  - Ko te Amorangi ki mua, ko te hapai o ki muri – loosely translated this means, the front is only as good as those at the back.  This can be interpreted in that our leaders are only as good as those leaders coming through.  There is an urgent need to look at the succession of young Maori leaders to these positions and to make it appealing and remove the barriers to their participation.  I would hope that if my ten year old son chooses to participate in hapu, iwi or national leadership in the years to come that roles, strength and strategic discussion are far advanced from what they are today.  It is our responsibility to make sure that our children are not fighting the same tired battles that we are today. 

I also believe that there is no place more important to be a leader than your own whanau and the beauty of this is that there are many leadership roles to play within whanau these may be care, matauranga and formal education, financial management, goal setting, fun and recreation.  A hui that our whanau held earlier this year highlighted the number of goals that we had ranged from buying a house, to buying a packet of purple gum.  We all recognised that we needed to be active and vigilant in order to meet our goals as a whanau and need to have more whanau hui to check our progress.  My three year old felt really empowered by telling me to write down every crazy thing he said. 

Whaea Rangimarie Rose Turuki Pere has a wonderful korero about leadership about the concept of Rangatira – and it is that in Peacetime leaders are at the back, but when the crunch or crisis appears they are up the front.  Her korero is that all people are leaders and have the ability to speak with the voice of authority and there is a challenge to keep ourselves well in every way in order to lead – ranga is to weave and tira is generations.  The word rangatira can also be broken down to Ra – the central sun, Ngati – the living breath or iwi – meaning that we are the living breath beginning and ending with the central sun and the divine spark. 

The whakatauaki of this conference is aligned with a real message for all leaders - mauri tu, mauri ora, mauri noho, mauri mate  - in the eloquent words of Amster Reedy, an amazing leader and inspiration -  this is translated as Get up and go or sit around and die.  Within this there is a challenge for everyone of us to get out there and make a difference.  All of us possess the vitality and the challenge is to honour our tipuna and celebrate our mokopuna in the changes we all strive to make to the future of our whanau and the nation.   

I hope that we are able to come together across political parties, iwi affiliations, generations (kaumatua and tamariki) and race to develop, articulate and achieve a vision of a beautiful Aotearoa that would include sustainable development, more respect and kindness towards one another, where economic development is secondary to our social development.  Where international and national economic deals are underpinned by social development and human rights principles.  A nation where being Maori, being iwi, and being young or old and being in Aotearoa is celebrated.   

If this cannot be achieved peacefully, then perhaps we need to look to the Basque for inspiration (I was told that they blew up television satellites to convince the government that their language must be broadcast on public television) or to principles of change management to create a changed environment.  What level of instability and crisis would be necessary to effect change?  And how badly do we really want it? 

In the words of a Great Maori band UB40 I would like to conclude with an excerpt from a song that challenges us all  - Ka Tu Ka Ora. 

Sing our own Song  by UB40 

The great flood of tears that we’ve cried

For our brothers and sisters who’ve died

Over four hundred years

Has washed away our fears

And strengthened our pride

Now we turn back the tide

 We will no longer hear your command

We will seize the control from your hand

We will fan the flame

Of our anger and pain

And you’ll feel the shame

For what you do in gods name


We will fight for the right to be free

We will build our own society

And we will sing, we will sing

We will sing our own song


When the ancient drum rhythms ring

The voice of our forefathers sings

Forward Africa run

Our day of freedom has come

For me and for you

Amandla awethu


We will fight for the right to be free

We will build our own society

And we will sing, we will sing

We will sing our own song

[1] Te Kawai Ora: Report of the Maori Adult Literacy Working Party (2001)
[2] The Art Of War Sun Tzu - Five components to succeeding in the war.

(1)The Moral Law – do others believe in your war and will they follow?

(2) Heaven – is this the right time, temperature, and season – how is the political climate and the ripeness of the moment.

(3) Earth – is about the location and distance in terms of chance and safety.  Where will the battle take place for the best impact?

(4) The Commander is the leader and virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage.  

(5) Method and discipline are about control of resources human, financial and information and making the right decisions at the right time.

The Art of War Summary - Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise: -- (a)      Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law? "in harmony with his subjects." (b) Which of the two generals has most ability? (c)       With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?  (d) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?


[3] Indigenous Corporate Solutions (2004) Relationships between Tangata Whenua and Government Agencies.

[4] Suzan Shown Harjo (2004)  Indian Country Today.


[5] McIntosh, P (1988) Working paper 189 “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through work in Women’s Studies.
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