Tikanga Māori Leadership:

Understanding the dynamics of Māori Leadership in a changing world.

Franceen Reihana & Martin Perkinson


The development of iwi, hapu and community initiatives for a sustainable future rely on effective leadership for guidance and direction.  The dynamics of this at a collective level and individual level as well as the difference between traditional and contemporary views on leadership need to be addressed.  This is not only to nurture both inter and intra-tribal cohesion and unity but to also promote individual entrepreneurial self-confidence. 

 This research aims to look at the dynamics of Māori leadership in a changing environment.  Previous research indicated that leadership now requires ‘new expertise and old wisdom’.  More importantly how can this be achieved to advance Māori aspirations within various sectors and communities?  Prior research and commentary raises questions such as the invisible nature of Māori leaders, the roles of leaders that represent collective iwi interests and individual’s rising to the leadership challenge in response to a given situation.  This research seeks not only to explore and describe the characteristics and role of effective Māori leaders but also to ascertain how best to foster Māori leadership through education.   

In business education, the traits and characteristics of successful leaders is a domain that continues to be well researched.  However research that incorporates tikanga Māori leadership in the same regard is in short supply.  Leadership roles continue to change in response to new situations.  Māori business leadership and Māori cultural leadership can be defined quite differently in terms of the roles, skills and the knowledge domains in which they function and are employed.  This research also takes into account that Māori leadership has both economic and/or social objectives. 

The research will be both quantitative and qualitative in nature and will involve a survey questionnaire adapted from the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ-5X) introduced by Bass (1998) and enhance recent studies conducted by Pfeifer and Love (2004) on Leadership in Aotearoa.  Hui with a small group of students currently enrolled on the Graduate Diploma in Leadership (Māori Development) will also be conducted.  It will also involve a small number of personal interviews with members of the Māori community.  Results will be analysed to find both common and distinctive themes. 

The results of this research will be used to provide a better understanding of the dynamics of Māori leadership in order to develop and promote appropriate leadership strategies in education that can foster and support sustainable development initiatives. 


Bass, B.M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: The Free Press. 

Pfeifer, D, & Love, M. (2004). Leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand: A cross-cultural study. PRism 2. Available from http://praxis.massey.ac.nz 

Reihana, F. (2004). Taonga tuku iho and commercial activity: What are Māori perspectives on cultural protection?  Unpublished master’s report, Massey University, Albany, New Zealand. 

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