Biggest risk of Māori leadership in 2017

Biggest risk of Māori leadership in 2017

Below is a transcript of a 3 minute introductory speech I recently did at Onuku Marae for Canterbury University Master of Māori and Indigenous Leadership wānanga. I acknowledge there are many risks facing Māori leadership, but I felt this covers a lot of the issues from a very high perspective.

Nǐhǎo, wǒ jiào Karaitiana Taiuru, Kia ora kouotu Ko Karaitiana Taiuru toku ingoa, Hi everyone my name is Karaitiana Taiuru.

Our emerging and new Māori leaders will need to quickly adapt to societal changes and be prepared to change their leadership styles and and themselves.

With New Zealand’s changing population and ethnic makeup, the possibility that Māori could be the third smallest population of NZ or at least one of three major populations, there is a chance Māori will be left behind or face being colonised again by another culture, most likely an Asian culture.

Multilingualism will be the new norm in the next 20 years. Our children and mokopuna will not understand what monolingualism or bilingualism is. It will simply be that multilingualism will be just normal. Our leaders will have to face this fact and that te reo Māori is to be shared in its status.

Ranginui Walker and Hirini Moko Mead wrote extensively on the current day issues Māori face and of the opportunities for Māori to get ahead and the need for a new style of Māori leadership.

In 1979 at He Matapuana and in various other texts Sir Hirini Moko Mead wrote in that Māori need a Maui like plan to help guide us into the 21st century. He went on to further state that Māori leaders are not Maui like and prefer to follow Pākehā ways. Ranginui walker stated the same thing in his many papers on Māori leadership and societal issues Māori face.

Just recently at a tribal strategic planning hui I attended, a well respected tribal leader made a statement that “it has become common for the Iwi just to accept that Pākehā are best for the job while ignoring our own“. Tā Tipene O’Regan speaks of Ngāi Tahu rūnanga being controlled by select families and Dr Eruera Tarena writes about Ngāi Tahu tribal representatives being grass roots leaders who are elected by their rūnanga to represent the iwi at a national level.

Apirana Mahuika and others promoted the traditional hierarchy of tribal leadership from select families.

At this stage I am think of kūpapa and the fact they still exist. The many Māori who are appointed leadership positions because they are a brown face, selected by non Māori who assume they are Māori leaders who speak Māori and understand Māori culture.

I think of a particular Māori staff member I know of at a university who was given an honorary Doctorate degree for no other reason other than the university being able to infer a Professor of Māori and Indigenous title on him. At the same university, the Māori student support person who is near retirement age and who lived her whole life not acknowledging being Māori, not until being employed as a Māori student support person. And the students who will pay the ultimate price for both leaders lack of leadership and te ao Māori skills. Both actions are discreet colonial tools to stop educated Māori graduates.

Then I think of the Urewera 8, who among others dared to be Maui like in their beliefs of tino rangatiratanga.

May 7 2017 on current Affairs show The Hui, respected Maori political commentator Morgan Godfrey, without rebuttal stated that the most effective Māori MPs are the conservative ones: Tā James Carrol, Tā Aprirana Ngata and Winston Peters. Selwyn Katene in his future leadership book also mentions Sir Turi Carroll and Sir James Buck.

Sadly in 28 years later in 2017, not too much has changed in my opinion. We still have inter generational social and cultural issues that our Māori leaders have failed to address. Only a new style of leadership will change that.

Māori leaders are required who can be on the front line of the protests and then wearing a suit in a boardroom the next day. I think of Hone Harawira here. He contributed to significant changes in the 80’s with Nga Tama Toa and the Patu squad. Real Maui styles that freaked out New Zealand society, but made changes.

I believe Māori need a new style of leadership: somewhere in between Hone Harawira and Sir Apiranga Ngata, or between Winston Peters and Marama Fox. The same way I believe African Americans during the years of civil rights period needed leadership qualities between Malcom X and Martin Luther King.

Visiting various local marae I hear new terminology used to describe Maori leadership including i-tahu-tanga and cv-tanga. Māori leadership relies too much on picking choosing tikanga that suits and includes too much nepotism. Ignoring succession planning and not stepping aside as society and demands change is one such risk.

Ngā mihi.


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