The Changing Face of Māori Development 

“Ka pu te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi.”

“The old net lies in a heap and a new net goes fishing”


Mauri Kaiaarahi: Maori Leadership Values.


Dr Wiremu Manaia, Senior Lecturer, School of Population Health,

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland


Mr Danny Hona, Lecturer, Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Mangere Campus, Auckland



This paper begins with an anomaly by firstly thanking the First Foundation, in particular Mark Robertson Shaw and Ted Douglas, for inviting Dr Manaia to present this research here at the conference and then secondly, Dr Manaia apologising for being absent.  The University of Auckland has sent Dr Manaia to present a paper at a conference in Stockholm, Sweeden, and then to study an intensive course in social epidemiology in Florence, Italy.  Dr Manaia would like to assure the conference organisers and participants that he was most upset he could not be in Wellington at this time and although he argued vehemently with University management he was reminded of his performance agreement responsibilities and given subtle hints in regard to his employment contract expectations.  Unfortunately Dr Manaia was forced to submit to the Universities wishes and reluctantly departed for Europe on the 27th of May, 2005.   

Nevertheless, Dr Manaia is not the type of man who neglects his responsibilities easily and has therefore the co-author, Mr Danny Hona (Danny), to present this paper on behalf of us both.  Dr Manaia apologises sincerely for not being able to assist in presenting this paper at this conference.   


This paper is entitled ‘The Changing Face of Maori Development.’  It is appropriately supported by a whakatauki ‘Ka pu te ruha, ka hao te ranagtahi’ – The old net lies in a heap while a new net goes fishing.  In keeping with the theme of the conference this paper poses a question (1) “How do we develop Maori Leadership for the future?”  It is a simple question yet difficult given that it is unlikely to produce a straight forward or unequivocal answer not because there is a plethora of research on how to develop leadership or any lack of examples from Maori history in Aotearoa, but because developing Maori leadership is inextricably linked to the concept of Maori development.  It is an external process heavily dependent on the social, economic and political environment of New Zealand society.   

As Maori academics and researchers, we are aware of our limitations and we are realistic about any individual efforts we make to try and influence Maori development.  It is far too hopeful to expect that this paper, or any piece of research, can substantially influence the development of Maori leadership from an external position therefore I will not attempt to do it, or waste your time by expecting you to listen to a piece of research that proposes such a possibility.  Maori development is an external process of change and as I have mentioned already, it is inextricably linked to Maori leadership.  It takes generations to implement and unfortunately I don’t have that long therefore I have decided to propose a much more expedient concept of Maori leadership development - an internal one: Mauri Kaiarahi – Maori Leadership Values.  I also need to state that this paper does not attempt to identify the attributes of a Maori leader as there is already a wealth of research in this area.  What it does present is a process for developing Maori leaders based on lessons learnt from the past.   

# Maori Development and Maori Leadership

In order to examine the context of future Maori leadership it is necessary to review Maori development.  Mäori development is based on a philosophy of integration and combines public sector interests such as health, employment, education and housing, all of which are considered part of a generic Mäori development philosophy.  A greater impact on Mäori development can be achieved if the Māori development strategies are supported by corresponding shifts in other Crown policy areas.  For example, unemployment, educational under achievement and poor housing are more relevant to Mäori health than strategies for delivering better health services to Mäori.  This is not to say that there have not been major gains for Mäori health as a result of the Governments past Mäori health objectives, it is simply to suggest that an unfair burden is placed on Mäori health professionals and providers if they are expected to improve Māori standards of health within the isolated environment of the New Zealand health sector.  The modern concept of Maori development stresses notions of (2) economic self sufficiency, social equity, cultural affirmation, and a greater measure of Maori autonomy.[i] 

Future Māori development is about expanding this concept on an international scale from a changing New Zealand society to a rapidly evolving world.  Future Maori leadership is the development of innovative, creative and energetic Maori leaders who may herald an era of Maori entering a global society (3) confident and skilled in te ao Pakeha, (4) while proud and proficient in te ao Maori.  It is an ambitious ideology made difficult by the fact that it requires clarity of vision too easily beyond the capabilities of young Maori today.  This is the internal process of Maori development as opposed to the external process outlined earlier in this paper.  It therefore poses another question:  (5) If Maori leaders in the future need to be visionaries what can be done now to assist or accelerate this process?  Quite simply it starts with us.  The first step is to celebrate success. 

# Whakatutuki - Acknowledging Success

Maori have a history of being very humble people with a preference of letting their actions speak for themselves.  There are many legends, songs, customs and proverbs that support this such as: 

“Waiho ma te tangata e mihi – Let someone else sing your praises.”

“He toa takitini taku toa, ehara i te toa takitahi – My bravery was the bravery of many, not just of one warrior.”

A more recent and contemporary saying is:

“E kore te kumara i whakapahu i tona reka - The kumara never tells how sweet it is.”  (6) These few proverbs alone illustrate Maori inclinations to be unassuming and modest in the midst of achievement.   

Historically it is not in our nature to extol our own virtues but this is a traditional view and like most aspects of Maori culture it has been affected by the process of colonisation so much so that there are now numerous examples of Maori who behave quite differently and are only too happy to tell you about their attributes and their legacy, or in some cases, their fallacy.   

The point I am trying to make here is that (7) acknowledging success and achievement is difficult for many Maori but it is a practice we need to embrace particularly because we tend to do this collectively.  This is not to say that other cultures don’t behave in the same way but Maori practices of whanaungatanga encourage us to do this to excess and in the context of this paper, (8) such behaviour is an asset. 

There is also the issue of defining success but for the purposes of my presentation today it is not an area I wish to examine in any great detail apart from acknowledging scale.  Last month for example Te Arawa celebrated a 99th birthday for one of their Kuia, 22 Maori and Pacific Island Students graduated from the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences (including our very first graduate from a Kura Kaupapa Maori) and Michael Campbell placed 4th in the British Masters Open.  These are some examples of collective Maori celebration at different levels.  (9) Success for one Maori is easily viewed as success for all and given our propensity to celebrate collectively the impact is often felt throughout the whole of Maoridom.   

Fortunately, if the last decade is any thing to go by we are beginning to celebrate success as Maori very well and so we should.  The annual Maori Sports awards, the annual Maori academic excellence awards, the National Maori Performing Arts Festival and last year we held the very first Maori Health Awards here in Wellington.  The last decade has certainly shown an increasing number of reasons for Maori to celebrate achievement all of which boads well for Maori development.  However, if individual Maori success is easily imbued as an achievement for all Maori what then is the impact on the individual themselves? 

Celebrating Maori success is an (10) external influence on Maori leadership development.  What this paper is more concerned with is the internal impact on the individual and the potential this has on the development of Maori leaders.  Experiencing success can have a profound (11) cognitive effect on an individual especially when it is augmented by collective celebration and reinforced by whanaungatanga.  (12) Self confidence and self motivation are enhanced and consequently respect is gained.   

# Whakamana: Earning Respect.

Historically, respect amongst Maori was (13) derived from whakapapa formalised by tikanga and defined by kawa.  Koroua, Kuia, Tane, Wahine, tamakriki, mokopuna all had certain roles, activities and expectations placed upon them and each earned their due respect accordingly.  Whakapapa was a defining influence for mana amongst whanau, hapu and iwi and is still so today, but generally not to the same degree.  Individual skills, feats and achievements contributed to earning mana but this (14) was determined by the collective benefit such activities had for the community and the people.  This is demonstrated in certain Maori protocols such as whaikorero, karakia, karanga and wero.  Many respected Maori male leaders were reknown orators capable of delivering commanding speeches while reciting broad whakapapa, recalling ancient whakatauki and performing historical moteatea at the same time.  Maori proverbs such as: “He tangata ki tahi – A man who speaks once” support this view.   Maori women leaders often demonstrated the same level of skill within Maori protocols of karanga and waiata.  Such skills were imperative with marae encounters where the goal is to create mutually beneficial relationships and avoid unnecessary risk.  To cause offence is to create risk, to display arrogance invites retaliation, to demonstrate rudeness is to solicit insult, and to diminish others is to breed resentment.  No marae could afford to place its people at risk.  Mana therefore came from the reduction of risk not only by appeasement but by creating a climate where the mana of all participants is elevated.   

The point I am trying to make here is that historically, mana was invested not so much in the deeds of the individual as in the collective well being of the community.  In spite of whakapapa, skills or exploits of an individual, the mana people carried was derived from their people because mana was invested in those who could advance the interests and needs of the tribe.  Durie identifies this as ‘Mana Tangata’ and part of ‘Maori psychology[ii] and it is this point that I refer to throughout this paper.   

Today, the word mana tends to be used as an equivalent to authority that particular individuals carry and in some respect this conveys a notion of personal power.  This definition is more likely to be invoked when the exploits or ambitions of an individual are considered in isolation from the individual’s community of origin which is not easily done when one is Maori.  Even when that individual’s propensity to identify as Maori is limited or non-existent, Maori themselves will by nature elevate to some of the quedos simply because it benefits the people.  As I have said before, success for one Maori is an achievement for all and just like it has in the past – it earns respect.   

There are many meanings attached to Maori understandings of mana but there is substantial agreement that any mana Maori individuals possess is inextricably linked to the mana of associated whanau, hapu and iwi and here in lies an issue for Maori leaders of the future.  If the mana of a Maori individual is isolated from the mana of Maori people, then there is no real mana because just like in the past, mana is invested only in those who will advance the interests of the people.  Maori leaders of the future need to understand that (15) you will only gain mana if you do things so that Maori people prosper.  It is about employing mana to demonstrate benevolence whereby power and authority is translated into actions of generousity.  Only then will Maori leaders of the future have any real influence with Maori people. 

# Te Awe: Influence

From celebrating success to earning respect and now to building influence.  The linkages are clear and have always been a part of Maori lineage for example Te Kingitanga: Potatau, Tawhiao, Mahuta, Te Rata Koroki me Te Ata-i-rangi-kahu.  All brought some levels of success to their people and this is celebrated every year with the Koroneihana and exemplified within numerous Poukai held throughout the country.  They were respected and had influence in both te Ao Maori and te Ao Pakeha.  John Rangihau, Hemi Henare, Dame Whina Cooper, and Matiu Rata the list goes on and so do many attributes they had in common one of which was an innate (16)  ability to influence people with their words.  Given we are an oratory based culture it is not surprising that Maori leaders are charismatic public speakers with an (17) ability to capture and inspire audiences.  Just like the Kaumatua and Kuia status of the past it has understandably evolved into the present without much deviation from past practices.  The Maori proverb “Ko te kai o te rangatira he korero – The food of chiefs is oratory” is just as pertinent today as it was in the past simply because Maori leaders tend to operate in a highly political environment. 

Maori leadership is however fundamentally different from earlier periods of Maori existence partly because Maori have taken a more active role politically but if positive development is going to make a difference to Maori lives than Durie has identified three challenges Maori leaders of the future will need to confront : (18)

  1. The Crowns relationship with Maori
  2. Relationships between Maori
  3. A shift from a commodity based economy to a knowledge economy and a knowledge society.[iii]

Although all will be of importance to Maori leaders in the future the topic of this paper is more concerned with third – a Maori knowledge economy.   

There is currently a focus on commodities as a basis for Maori development.  This is misleading because it assumes that the resource is huge and economically critical when in fact Maori land holdings even after settlement are small (less than three hectares per person) and returns from Maori land are confined to a relatively small section of the Maori population – about one third.  Similarly the asset base for Te Ohu Kaimoana, last year estimated at $590 million, equates to little more than $1000 per person.  There is no doubt that land and fisheries are valuable resources but given the amount of energy expended by Maori on them you would expect a more substantial contribution to Maori development.   

However, there is now a world wide trend to place less reliance on commodities as a source of wealth.  The challenge is to move towards (19) an economy based on knowledge and part of this process is to develop the greatest asset Maori have – its people.  The Maori human capital is largely under developed and as a consequence knowledge based industries are lagging behind.  But here in lies a window of opportunity.  If our greatest asset is our people then one of the keys to Maori development will be Maori leaders who are able to capture and inspire other Maori to achieve individual potential.  I believe the next group of Maori leaders will be the “opportunity creation generation.”  They will lead by example and their ability to influence will determine their ability to be effective because their key role will be to create opportunities for those Maori less fortunate.   

Sadly, apart from celebratory events, they will probably not bear the fruits of their endeavours but their children, grandchildren and great grand children will.  A knowledge economy can only improve over time and the benefits derived will take generations.  The next generation of Maori leaders will need to be able to capture the minds and hearts of the people.  How effective they are in this area will depend greatly on their ability to influence the masses but influence on its own is not enough.  From success grows respect, from respect comes influence from influence stems two more attributes of Maori leadership: power and responsibility.   

Kaha me te Kawe: Power and Responsibility

In 1949 Apirana Ngata made an observation when he wrote:

“E tipu e rea mo nga ra o tou ao; Ko to ringa ki nga rakau o te Pakeha hei oranga mo to Tinana; Ko to ngakau ki nga taonga a ou tipuna, hei tikitiki mo te mahunga, ko tou wairua ki te Atua nana nei nga mea katoa.”[iv]

Ngata was encouraging Maori youth to (20) seek out knowledge derived from science and technology and to blend it with Maori customary knowledge.  Ngata was urging movement in two directions simultaneously and he warned against turning away from either the Western world or the Maori world.  He implied that a Maori identity was essentially derived from the past and in a rapidly changing world it could be a stabilising force in the midst of change and uncertainty.  Ngata knew that (21) recognised knowledge had influence and power and the retention of strong Maori identity ensured an awareness of responsibility to Maori people.  It also shows that Ngata understood a position of influence was irrelevant without the support of the people because it has no power.   

Future Maori leaders must have an acute awareness of how (22) influence, power and responsibility operate in Maori whanau, hapu, iwi and communities and more importantly how to effectively manage them.  If the influence and power of a Maori leader over exceeds the people, then there is no leadership because it is invested only in those who exhibit the responsibility for advancing the interests of Maori people.  Such behaviour cannot be something they practice on certain occasions or call upon whenever the need presents itself.  It is a mentality they eat, sleep and breathe because it is applicable at multiple levels and examples can be seen in most situations of everyday life.  The Prime Minister cannot work effectively without the support of the cabinet, Ministers and ultimately the NZ citizens.  Chief Executives cannot manage without the backing of the Board and senior management.  A manager operates badly without the commitment of staff.  A teacher or parent struggles without the respect of their children.  National representatives, Government ministers, chief executives, management, committee members, team coaches all have roles where influence, power and responsibility at some level is expressed.  (23) Mauri Kaiarahi is therefore applicable to all Maori in some way, shape or form through parenting.   

Sir James Henare believed passionately in education as a liberating force, and fought for an education system that would recognize local and Maori needs within the overarching framework of the Treaty of Waitangi.  In the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography he is described as a born leader.  This is a philosophy I do not subscribe to and I believe born leadership is a misleading concept.  All leaders, even when they conduct themselves in a manner that appears natural, have developed through a process of learned opportunities and have consequently acquired a range of skills and abilities necessary to be a competent leader.  Invariably, it is something that has not happened naturally but has in fact been guided by various forms of influence and encouragement.  One of the most intimate expressions of leadership is parenting and this is why Mauri Kaiarahi is applicable to all Maori.   

Our children are an extension of ourselves.  We cannot always control or manage their outcomes because of influences beyond our reach but we can determine their environment and in general we are the most significant determinants of their potential.  A parent leads through their actions: how you choose to behave when your child is a foetus; what consistent level of interest do you take in them; what opportunities do you create for them; how do you communicate with them, what type of role model do you choose to be for them.  These are the influence and power attributes of parenting responsibilities and are some of the early stage determinants in Maori leadership development.  Admittedly parenting is only one influence and indeed many great leaders have come from childhood experiences of adversity and hardship but this paper is about accelerating Maori leadership development for the future and quality parenting is an appropriate starting point for establishing significant advantage.  It also identifies a role all Maori can play in Maori development. 

# Mauri Kaiarahi – Maori Leadership Values 

In all honesty attempting to define what will determine Maori leaders of the future is an overly pretentious goal since there is no single Maori way of thinking, feeling and behaving.  Nor is there agreement about what constitutes the uniqueness of Maori thinking styles or the extent to which Maori youth assimilate values concepts and beliefs as they move from youthful exuberance to adult maturity.   

It can also be argued with some conviction that Maori youth are party to the same endeavours that captivate all New Zealand young people and as a result youth development is derived from common experiences in shared ventures and similar aims.  To that extent it needs to be recognised that ethnicity is only one type of culture.  For many Maori teenagers the more important consideration might be the culture of youth, or the culture of sport, or the culture of poverty, or the culture of drugs & alcohol, or the culture of urban and rural living.  Being an 18 year old Maori may be less relevant than being 18 years old.   

However, this paper asserts the view that growing up Maori presents unique opportunities for a range of actual and symbolic experiences that add value to modern living and inject other meanings into a young person’s perception of the world.  The point I am trying to make here is that while experiencing the cultures which surround urban living, or work, or leisure, or schooling, Maori youth do not seem to score well.  While those cultures are able to capture the attention of Maori youth, they are not by themselves able to sustain a Maori spirit.  One of the keys for Maori youth maturing towards adulthood equipped and prepared to live in modern society is sustained Maori identity especially for future Maori leaders.  (24) Mauri Kaiarahi illustrates stages of personal Maori development from youth to maturity: 

  1. Whakatutuki: Success (25)
  2. Whakamana: Respect (26)
  3. Te Awe Turanga: Influence (27)
  4. Kaha: Power (28)
  5. Kawe: Responsibility (29)

We are exposed to these as we grow though not always to the same degree.  Some Maori lead enchanted lives and experience success, achievement and influence at a very young age and many times over.  It is these individuals who tend to excel but this is not an accomplishment achieved in isolation.  It may be that they are exposed to opportunities not always available to those less fortunate by the efforts and activities of their parents and whanau, or they are privy to an awe inspiring experience that has a dramatic impact on them, or they are constantly encouraged by the actions of respected role models.  Success, respect and influence are activities most people experience to some degree in their life time.  However, understanding the intricacies of power and responsibility requires a level of intellect that challenges the capabilities of Maori rangatahi and herein lays the key.  (30) Maori leaders of the future will need to look beyond the personal needs and visualise the impact such actions have on developing respect, influence, power and most of all responsibility.  That is the level of determination they will need.  Fortunately, the timing is right now.   

The last twenty years has evidenced a Maori renaissance.  Te Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Maori, Maori Universities, Maori Bureaucrats, Maori TV, Maori in Parliament, Maori in the private sector, a Maori political party.  One of the biggest areas of Maori educational development has been the dramatic increase with tertiary education enrolments especially in the 30, 40 and even 50 year age groups.  Comparatively, these generations have experienced minimal success and achievement and have had limited influence on their lives.  For many it wasn’t really necessary because society at the time of their youth circulated different requirements.  Unskilled employment was plentiful, educational institutes were unfriendly, Maori standards of living were considered comfortable, acculturation into mainstream lifestyle was not only encouraged but embraced.   

In 2004 the University of Auckland interviewed a group of Maori graduates from this generation who identified the following issues as motivation to challenge, achieve and succeed: 

  1. A realisation that they needed to take greater leadership roles in whanau (and then eventually) hapu and iwi activities.
  2. A need to actively connect (or rejuvenate) their cultural identity.  For most of their adult lives cultural affirmation was absent and they were worse off for it. 
  3. Academic success would be the first step towards personal development. [1]

Respect and influence had been forthcoming for them but power and a responsibility to contribute back to Maori people was a recently developed awareness.  This is part of the opportunity creation generation identified earlier in this paper and this process of awareness is appropriate for now but it will not be enough for Maori leaders of the future.  That amount of time is a luxury they don’t have because the world is changing too quickly and personal development at that pace will be quite frankly too slow.   

# Conclusion

New Zealand society has changed dramatically and Maori culture has been able to move with it because Maori identity is not derived entirely from historical times.  It draws equally as much on recent past and is a shaped by adaptations which are necessary for survival in a complex world.  Our future leaders will require levels of personal Maori development that will exceed the abilities of current adult generations and we must not only encourage it but facilitate and applaud its development.   

Celebrating success and acknowledging victories is something we Maori have not done well or often enough in the past.  We live in a fast moving world - complicated, expensive, two parent working families, undue influences on the young, a society full of health disparities, inequalities, risky lifestyles and very little time for celebrating success and acknowledging victories.  But we must do it.  Success can be an empty victory without celebration but success as part of a process is what Mauri Kaiarahi has illustrated in this presentation today.   

We are all born with the same development potential.  Achieving success is the beginning of a cognitive development process and there are many people at this conference who will understand what I am talking about here.  Success breeds self confidence - respect is gradually earned - positions of leadership are forthcoming – the ability to influence brings power and with power comes responsibility.  Normally you would develop these areas as you confront them in your life but as I said earlier this is a rapidly changing world and waiting until these things happen is a luxury future Maori leader’s will not have.  They must be more determined than that.  Future Maori leaders will undoubtedly experience a wealth of success but they must not be blinded by each occurrence. 

When Nelson Mandela was released from Rhode Island Prison a CNN Correspondent asked him how he managed to survive 28 years in prison.  He answered by saying (31) “A man with no history, has no future.”[v]  An incredibly insightful response it reflected the mind of a visionary.  From a prison cell he saw the whole process I have outlined today.  He knew surviving prison would be his success.  Influence and power would be forthcoming upon his release and then he would be able to meet the responsibilities of the people.  In spite of his predicament and unimaginable surroundings he maintained commitment to a cause far greater than himself by visualising his responsibilities to black African people. (32)  That is how focussed future Maori leaders must be:  That is Mauri Kaiarahi – Maori Leadership Values.  (33) They must be visionaries with a firm focus on their future responsibilities now.   

Essentially what Nelson illustrates is that Maori leaders of the future must never forget the responsibilities associated with (34) who they are and where they come.  It will determine their potential as Maori leaders and consequently, future development of Maori as a people on an international scale. 

At the start of this paper I asked a question: “How do we develop Maori Leadership for the future?”  In the course of this presentation I have outlined a cognitive process as a cycle of personal development for young Maori: Mauri Kaiarahi but in response to the question I have posed I say this: To develop Maori leaders for the future they must do what Ngata implied: seek out knowledge derived te Ao pakeha (and with it influence & power) and blend it with our own knowledge of te Ao Maori (intrinsic responsibility).   

In order for young Maori to get to that stage they must experience acknowledged success and earn the respect of their whanau, hapu, iwi and communities.  The key to accelerating this process is to encourage Maori ranagtahi to (35) start with the end in mind and (36) focus on responsibilities now.   

Thank you for listening to this address today, I hope it has contributed to the themes of this conference and I wish you all the best for the future. 

Kati ra, kia ora ano tatou katoa.  

[1] University of Auckland Newsletter (March 2005). Maori Student Graduation, A Department of Education Study, page 3.

[i] Durie, MH, Nga Kahui Pou - Launching Maori Futures. pg 303.

[ii] Durie, M.H, Mauri Ora – The Dynamics of Maori Health. pg 83.

[iii] Durie, MH Mauri Ora – The Dynamics of Maori Health. pg 84.

[iv] Ta Apriana Ngata, (1949), An Autograph for Rangi Bennett. 

[v] Mandela, N, Long Walk to Freedom, pg 68.

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