Category Archives: Maori Development

Should Maori Policy be Targeted or Universal? From Whanau Ora to a Universal Basic Income.

Looking back, five years ago on Boxing Day 2013 I wrote:

For poor and struggling Maori Christmases come and go with monotonous regularity marking neither change nor advancement in their lives but just the passing of another 365 days of struggle and the prospect of another 365 days exactly the same. For most of them the past is the present and the present is the future.

“They are the ones described in “Duino Elegies” by the Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke as the “disinherited ones to whom neither the past nor the future belongs”.

Nothing much has changed.

In previous essays on Maori policy I have decried the narrow focus of Maori policy of the last few decades, specifically its focus on cultural and language revival, and on settlements and business development through neo-tribal organisation, at the expense of policy designed to lift all Maori out of the quagmire of poverty and inequality that still entraps large numbers of Maori at the bottom of the socio-economic heap.

I have advocated that the makers of Maori policy focus instead on the much wider national macro- and micro-economic policy settings that actually determine the place of our people in society, and that have worked against the narrow Maori policy settings of the last thirty-plus years. And in focusing on the political economy I have made a case for a moral underpinning of economic policy, and for mana tangata to be enshrined as the pou tokomanawa of all national economic policy. People first. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

I have been ambivalent about the Whanau Ora programme currently under review, having in my lived experience seen some 60 years of targeted Maori policy and programmes come and go without much long lasting and overall effect for all Maori. I commented that I expected Whanau Ora to go the way of all such programmes, to Programme Heaven.

From the website of Te Puni Kokiri we learn that:

“Whānau Ora is an approach that supports whānau and families to achieve their aspirations in life. It places whānau at the centre of decision making and supports them to build a more prosperous future.

“Whānau Ora is about increasing the wellbeing of individuals in the context of their whānau, it is whānau-centred. It differs from traditional social and health approaches that focus solely on the needs of individuals.

“Whānau ora recognises the strengths and abilities that exist within whānau and aims to support and develop opportunities that fulfill potential.

“The whānau-centred approach:

  • starts by asking whānau and families what they want to achieve for themselves, and then responding to those aspirations in order to realise whānau potential
  • provides flexible support for whānau and families to move beyond crisis into identifying and achieving medium and long-term goals for sustained change
  • focuses on relationships, self-determination and capability building for whānau to achieve positive long-term outcomes
  • uses a joined up approach that focuses on all factors relevant to whānau wellness, including economic, cultural, environmental factors, as well as social factors
  • recognise that each whānau has a different set of circumstances, and what works well for one whānau does not work well for other whānau
  • recognises that whānau and families have skills, knowledge and experiences that contribute to their own resilience, and can provide a platform for whānau and families to become more self-managing and independent.”

That is pretty much a cut-down version of classic community development principles aimed not at community but instead at just one of the building blocks of community; whanau. It misses the point of community development, in that the whole community needs to be developed. The institutions of community are equally important in the development process, as those institutions need themselves to adapt and develop their policies and practices in response to the self-identified aspirations and goals of whanau. And to the aspirations and goals of the whole of the community they serve. Those institutions are both non-governmental organisations, and the institutions of central and local government. And thus we are led inevitably and inexorably back to the policies within which those institutions function, primarily to economic policy.

Whanau Ora is not a policy. It is a programme. What Whanau Ora is doing is enabling some whanau to make some headway in the existing policy environment. It seems that it has also generated an economic dividend for some who don’t need it. It is not about designing and implementing policy settings that will change and improve the total living environment for all Maori.

For that is a challenge more universal in its vision, aims and objectives.

The challenge is to acknowledge, actively promote, and celebrate the mana of all New Zealanders; a social justice challenge. To create policy for the greater good of the greatest number, including the greatest number of Maori.

The challenge is to eradicate poverty, especially child poverty. The challenge is to significantly reduce the extremes of inequality, both income inequality and wealth inequality; to create a more egalitarian society for all, Maori and non-Maori.

And in so doing to promote equal access to quality housing, health and education. With subsidiary aims of reducing crime and imprisonment.

The first step is to eradicate poverty.

We were promised, over thirty years ago, that the now discredited neoliberal policy agenda of the radical Labour and National governments (1984-1999) would create wealth that would trickle down to all, and that the rising tide would lift all boats. Instead it lifted about 10% of the boats, some much higher than others, and at least 50% of waka Maori were left bottomed on the mudflats. It was a rising tide of inequality.

Is there a universal policy tide that will lift all boats?

Well, we already have one. We need look no further than New Zealand Superannuation which is paid to all New Zealanders over the age of 65 regardless of status, income and wealth. There is a slight anomaly that needs fixing, regarding marital status and gender equality. However, since the concept was introduced in 1938 it has largely solved the problem of poverty of the aged. That 80-year trial of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for old folk seems to have been quite successful.

We used to have a UBI for children – the Family Benefit that was paid from 1946 to 1985, paid to the mother, for all children up to the age of 16, or 18 for those still in education. That worked too. Then it was replaced with targeted benefits as part of the benefit slashing and beneficiary bashing of the neoliberal ideologues.

We now have a plethora of targeted benefits that don’t work. The increased incidence of poverty and homelessness, and all other indicators of an uncaring society bear testament to that assertion. It can be traced directly back to the benefit slashing and beneficiary bashing brought on by Minister of Finance Ruth Richardson’s 1991 “Mother of all Budgets” and by her “Ruthanasia” economic reforms. The targeted benefit system stigmatises beneficiaries instead of recognising their mana, and the inherent dignity of every person. It criminalises those who cheat the system in order to live. And it creates an administrative and compliance regime that is huge, unwieldy, costly, and that robs beneficiaries of their dignity. It has done nothing to eradicate poverty, and to reduce inequality. It has instead embedded poverty and inequality.

It panders to the bigotry of those who look down upon the less fortunate, and who blame them for their own misfortune. It functions alongside a tax system that taxes the income of all (except those who are already wealthy and able to evade taxation), that regressively taxes the consumption of all (GST), the burden falling most heavily upon those who can least afford it, and tax-exempts the wealth and rent seeking of the fortunate. Together the targeted benefit system and the targeted tax system prop up the structural inequality that maintains the privileged position of the fortunate few.

The proponents of the system of targeted benefits piously pretend that it builds a caring safety net. It is uncaring and robs people of their dignity. Takahi mana.

The reinstatement of a Universal Basic Income for children (previously the Family Benefit), and the introduction of a Universal Basic Income for all adults aged 16 to 64 would change all that. It would in one step raise all waka on a rising tide, begin to deal to poverty, begin to deal to inequality, and have significant downstream effect. It would remove the stigma of the beneficiary label and begin to restore the mana of present day beneficiaries.

And it would mostly disestablish the costly and much loathed administration and compliance apparatus.

How to pay for it? Apart from wiping out most of the costs of administration and compliance, that’s where the tax system comes into play. Perce Harpham has proposed a 33% flat tax regime that tax exempts those most in need, and progressively recoups the UBI payout from those who don’t need it. Additionally he and The Opportunities Party have both proposed forms of Asset Tax that aim to reduce wealth inequality and to help pay for a Universal Basic Income.

The targeted benefit and taxation regimes currently embed poverty, income inequality and wealth inequality into New Zealand society. A Universal Basic Income system and a new taxation regime can begin to reverse that situation.

Is it sustainable? It has to be. Faced with the uncertainty of paid employment in the digital age and gig economy, and in the developing age of automation and robotics, alongside the looming climate crisis, we have to move towards a political economy that aims to equitably share the national income and wealth, regardless of employment status. The alternative is widespread unrest, disruption and chaos. We will also need innovative new ideas about how to create a national income and national wealth that will sustain the whole nation. New ideas have always been the basis of progress. Old ideas that don’t work are for discarding. Ka pu te ruha.

Aiming far beyond the limiting confines of targeted Maori policy this is universal policy that will lift all waka. And begin to restore the mana of our people. Particularly those who can only gaze through the windows at the Boxing Day sales.

Boxing Day 2018.

See also “Economic Review of the Status of Beneficiaries in NZ” by Gail E. Duncan

After the Kohanga Reo Scandal – Some Observations on Trust Law, Tikanga and Democracy

Throughout the whole affair involving Te Kohanga Reo National Trust there have been a few things said about what TKRNT should and should not do that seemed to me to be a bit strange in relation to trust law for TKRNT is a very specific type of organisation; it is a trust governed by trust law.

A few examples. The collective of kohanga reo whanau from Mataatua and Tauranga-Moana held that the dismissal of Titoki Black as CEO of TKRNT was not done in accordance with tikanga and that was why they were aggrieved. Minister of Education Hekia Parata was reported in the NZ Herald saying the trust “was not democratic enough”. Hone Harawira was reported saying that the board should comprise two representatives, one male and one female, from each of the ten kohanga reo regions.

Each of those raises an issue in trust law, namely tikanga and trust law, democracy and trust law, and representation and trust law.

In this post I will look at trust law in some detail, at the tension between trust law and Tikanga Maori, and at the end examine the issue of Te Kohanga Reo National Trust, democracy and representation.

I’m not an expert in trust law but I have been a trustee and managed trusts for over four decades. In that time I have consulted with and been advised by several specialist trust lawyers and in the end bought and read the legal texts for myself. In my experience, with both Maori and non-Maori trusts, I have found that few trustees understand trust law and that many are ignorant of their legal powers (and the restrictions on those powers), their obligations, duties, responsibilities and liabilities. Given that there are thousands of trusts operating throughout Te Ao Maori the lack of knowledge of trust law is a major deficiency in the governance of the affairs of Maori.

I  have often been dismayed by the appointment of trustees who had little or no understanding of their legal powers, obligations, duties, responsibilities and liabilities. And even more dismayed if and when they have shown no inclination whatsoever to acquaint themselves with trust law, or even to acknowledge that it exists.

And in some cases I have been appalled to witness the appointment of people wholly unsuited to the position of trustee. I have also known proven thieves to be appointed (even as treasurer) and when they have embezzled funds been exasperated that nothing was done about it.

The Attributes of a Trustee

In my opinion there are three important attributes of a trustee; namely integrity, competence and maturity. By maturity I do not mean age but experience and wisdom.

Integrity speaks for itself. Competence includes an understanding of trust law as well as understanding investment, financial governance and financial management among other things. In the case of TKRNT there is also a requirement for competence in Te Reo Maori because the Trust’s purpose is entirely about Te Reo. I have found that a modicum of wisdom is always important, the wisdom of maturity and experience. The appointment of trustees having regard for these attributes is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly yet too often trustees are appointed according to other criteria without any consideration of those three attributes.

In recent public discourse about Te Kohanga Reo National Trust there was much crticism of trustees being appointed for life and an assumption that elderly trustees might be too out of touch. Age however does not preclude the attributes of integrity, competence and maturity and should be no barrier to trusteeship provided that provision is made for smooth transitions of trusteeship in the event of the incapacity or demise of elderly trustees.

E hoa ma, as an elderly trustee myself I would think like that wouldn’t I.

There are estimated to be between 300,000 and 500,000 trusts in New Zealand and I would think that a surprisingly large number of those have trustees appointed for life.

Tikanga Equity – The Origins of Trust Law

Trust law is its own tikanga, a tikanga rooted in roughly 700 years of the development of an aspect of English law called Equity. Equity is that body of law developed by the English Court of Chancery before 1873 and it is a set of legal doctrines that reflect general notions of good conscience and fairness. A trust is one form of Equity in which the trustees have a legal interest in the trust and the beneficiaries have an equitable interest. That is that the trustees are the legal owners of the assets in trust but only insofar as those assets may only be used for the purposes of the trust and for the benefit of the “beneficiaries” and not for their own benefit.

Trusteeship over assets that benefit other people and not yourself requires a high level of integrity and over the centuries the law has developed doctrines or tikanga to codify that requirement.

I have read that this tikanga developed from the time of the Crusades when knights would leave their lands and families for years of crusading in the Holy Land from which they might never return. It developed to protect the lands and other property of the knights “in trust” for the benefit of their families or “beneficiaries” against the predation and dishonesty of some people who would take advantage of the absence or death of a crusader to acquire his lands for themselves. That is a much simplified explanation but it does convey the essence of trust law.

It is important to understand this simple concept and to understand that trust law is its own tikanga.

Common Law was developed in the English common law courts over many centuries. Equity was developed in the English Court of Chancery. They are two separate tikanga both part of the concept and codification of the law we all now live by in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Common law now forms the basis of much New Zealand statutory or parliament-made law but there is still a body of common law that has not been transformed into statutory law and common law is still relevant in the courts. Much of the tikanga of Equity has also been transformed into statutory law primarily in the Trustee Act 1956 and also in the case of Maori lands in Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993. However the tikanga of Equity still prevails and all statutory trust law is interpreted according to that tikanga and in consideration of case law. Case law is that law developed in the courts based on interpretation of Tikanga Equity. Case law sets precedents that influence future decisions in the courts.

Where the relevant statutory legislation is silent Tikanga Equity and case law prevail. The Rules of Equity are to be found in case law and in numerous authoritative legal texts which also explain that case law.

This may appear complicated and convoluted but an understanding of statutory trust law is not enough. To be competent a trustee must also understand Tikanga Equity. I will try to explain Tikanga Equity as simply as I can.

Powers of Trustees

The powers of trustees are established in Tikanga Equity and in statutory law. In Tikanga Equity “equitable relationships” are created. We must remember that equity is about good conscience and fairness. These equitable relationships include:

  • Fiduciary relationships;
  • Relationships of confidence; and
  • Relationships of influence.

A trust, established as a creature of Tikanga Equity is a fiduciary relationship subject to fiduciary rules and principles, or obligations. At the core of those obligations a trustee must:

  • Avoid personal profit or benefit;
  • Avoid conflict of interest; and
  • Avoid divided loyalties (the loyalty is to the trust and not to any external persons or organisations).

The avoidance of conflicts of interest is of particular relevance in Maori trusts and is a rule often breached. I think the main reason is that a conflict of interest in Tikanga Equity is generally not considered a conflict of interest in Tikanga Maori. In a later section I will discuss the relationship of Tikanga Maori to Tikanga Equity. A trustee must also:

  • Act in good faith;
  • Use his or her powers for their proper purpose; and
  • Exercise care (i.e. a duty of care). The duty of care requires a trustee to administer a trust in good faith, exercising its powers as a prudent person would with “reasonable care, skill and caution”. There is a whole body of law around this duty alone, including definitions and descriptions of a prudent person. In managing trusts I have sometimes needed to consult a trust lawyer to seek an expert opinion on whether a contemplated course of action would be prudent or not. It may seem a simple matter of judgement but it is not always so.

Other aspects of the law of fiduciary obligation under Tikanga Equity include:

  • Duty of loyalty;
  • Duty of impartiality;
  • Duty to act personally;
  • Duty to keep full and accurate accounts; and
  • Duty to preserve trust property.

Duties of Trustees

The first duty of a trustee is to be fully acquainted with the terms of the trust as specified in the trust instrument or instruments, such as deeds of trusts and constitutions. The trust instrument is paramount.

The second duty is to adhere totally to the trust’s terms regardless of any other considerations (including Tikanga Maori if Tikanga Maori is in conflict with Tikanga Equity). The trustee’s only duty and loyalty is to the trust and to the terms of the trust, and therefore to its beneficiaries.

In this sense the trustee represents only the trust, and not any other person or organisation even if the terms of the trust provide for the appointment of that trustee by an external person or organisation. A trustee acts alone in the service of the trust. A trustee is not a representative and a trust is not a democratic institution. It is a legal and equitable institution.

In relation to the beneficiaries trustees must:

  • Act in the beneficiaries’ best interests;
  • Maintain impartiality between beneficiaries;
  • Pay the correct beneficiaries (if they are to be paid under the terms of the trust).

The trustees themselves must:

  • Not profit from trusteeship;
  • Act gratuitously (i.e. without payment of sitting fees or other fees, wages or salaries unless payment is specifically authorised by the terms of the trust, but they may be paid actual and reasonable expenses such as for travel and accommodation);
  • Invest;
  • Not delegate their obligations, duties and responsibilities;
  • Be active in their trusteeship;
  • Act unanimously (unless the terms of the trust allow for voting and for majority decision making). Additionally a trustee, including a chairperson of a board of trustees, may not act alone for decisions may only be made by all trustees acting together unless the trustees have specifically authorised one of their number to act alone on a specific matter; and
  • Keep proper accounts and provide that information to those entitled to receive it.

Investment of trust assets is a huge and complex area of trust law. Every trustee of a trust that is required to invest assets must be or become knowlegable about investment. Similarly every trustee must be financially literate in order to perform his or her duties to a high standard. A lack of knowledge of trust law and a lack of financial literacy are the two major deficiencies in trusteeship that I have witnessed in my 40+ years of trusteeship.

These deficiencies often lead to breaches of trust.

Breach of Trust and the Removal of Trustees

Any trustee who breaches the terms of the trust, or the obligations of a trustee, or exceeds the powers of the trustee may be held in breach of trust by the courts and dismissed. A breach of trust is therefore any act which is in violation of the duties of a trustee or of the terms of a trust, or any act or omission on the part of a trustee which is inconsistent with the terms of the triust agreement or the law of trusts.

Such a breach need not be intentional or with malice, but can be due to negligence alone.

Additionally under Section 229 of the Crimes Act 1961 every one is guilty of a criminal breach of trust who, as a trustee of any trust, dishonestly and contrary to the terms of that trust, converts anything to any use not authorised by the trust. Anyone so doing is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.

I have seen instances of this in cases where trustees have given favourable consideration when disposing of some assets of a trust by selling them at a discount to themselves or to their own whanau or to another organisation in which they are involved. The duty of the trustee is to sell at the most favourable price and to do otherwise is an act of criminality.

Trusteeship is therefore a position requiring high levels of integrity and competence, and the wisdom and maturity to fulfil those requirements.

The law provides for the removal of trustees through breach of trust. Trustees may also be removed if they become physically or mentally incapacitated, or if a trustee is convicted of dishonest or criminal behaviour. That last reason was perhaps part of the intent of the leaking of financial information to Maori TV.

The law does not provide for the removal of trustees by government ministers, as a few people have advocated in the case of TKRNT.

The Burden of Trusteeship

Trusteeship is not to be taken lightly for it is an onerous responsibility and trustees are individually liable for any breach of trust or imprudent decision making by the trust.

It requires an even higher standard of prudence than one might exercise over one’s own affairs and trustees are held personally accountable to the higher standard. Most trustees do not understand that personal liability.

As I have come to understand trusteeship in greater depth over the years I have become more wary of accepting trusteeship. I now consider the integrity, competence and maturity of those who will be my fellow trustees and also those who may be employed by the trust as managers, for in accepting appointment one is to some extent placing one’s reputation in the hands and integrity of others.

Too often trustees are appointed and trusteeships acccepted as just another committee membership without any understanding of the obligations, duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship. In the present discussion and consultation over the structure of TKRNT I am sure that few who aspire to be trustees really understand all of that.

Tikanga Maori vs Tikanga Equity

I mentioned earlier that conflicts of interest often arise because of differences between the two tikanga. In my experience the tension between Tikanga Maori and Tikanga Eqjuity has been the cause of much misunderstanding about the powers, obligations, duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trustees.

In Maori trusts it is of course appropriate that trustees conduct themselves and their business in accordance with Tikanga Maori. However, and it is a big and often painful however, without exception and unless provided for in the trust’s terms, Tikanga Equity has precedence over Tikanga Maori in all mattters of trusteeship.

A trust is a creation in Tikanga Equity, not a creation in Tikanga Maori. And although trusteeship is defined as kaitiakitanga in its translation from one to the other the two are not always the same thing and in the case of legal and equitable trust they are not the same thing.

Koha is a case in point and an issue of common misunderstanding. Trustees will often feel obliged to give koha from the funds of the trust but unless the trust’s terms specifically authorise koha in specific instances, or in the promotion of the purpose of a purpose trust (see later), it is not lawful. From my personal experience I have known of trustees who give koha from trust funds at tangihanga of persons not directly involved in the trust, in the mistaken belief that they are representing the trust. I have always assumed that I represent only myself in those circumstances and have given koha from my own pocket. In Tikanga Equity it is the safest option.

In Tikanga Maori matters are often but not always decided in hui and by consensus of those with an interest in the matter. Many people assume that consensus decision making by those with an interest applies to trusts as well. It does not for trustees are required to act personally and only in the interests of the trust as stated in the trust’s terms, and not in anyone else’s interests. And trustees have the sole power to make those decisions.

This is a matter that causes much confused thinking in relation to Te Kohanga Reo National Trust for at least half of Te Ao Maori has an interest in the Kohanga Reo Movement. But the lead organisation in the Movement is a trust in Tikanga Equity.

That is the cross we bear if we are to establish ourselves in legal entities in order to receive public funding or to operate in the regulatory environment established by New Zealand law. The legal entities whether trusts, incorporated societies or limited liability companies are all established, defined and governed in the other tikanga. Even Maori Land Incorporations are established, defined and governed in the other tikanga.

Types of Trust

There are various types of trust such as family trusts and pension trusts, and the putea trusts, whanau trusts, ahuwhenua trusts, whenua topu trusts and kaitiaki trusts that are established through the Maori Land Court. Trusts that do not have specific or named beneficiaries are called purpose trusts and are often charitable trusts with either narrow or broadly defined purposes.

Purpose of Te Kohanga Reo National Triust

Te Kohanga Reo National Trust is a charitable trust. It does not have specific or named beneficiaries but does have a very clear purpose. It was incorporated in 1983 under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957. The Trust’s Deed sets out its objectives which are to promote, support and encourage:

  • The use and retention of Te Reo.
  • The Kaupapa of Te Kōhanga Reo, and in particular the goal of total immersion in Te Reo Māori.
  • The establishment and maintenance within New Zealand of Te Kōhanga Reo.
  • The provision of financial, advisory, and administrative assistance and support for the whānau of Te Kōhanga Reo.

Despite what many people may think about the role of TKRNT, or what the role should be, that is its purpose. And as readers will know by now that purpose as stated in the trust deed is paramount.

As laws change and as society and circumstances change there may be a need to update trust deeds. The method of changing a deed may be specified in the deed and in some cases it may require application to the High Court (or Maori Land Court), and even the assent of the Attorney General. Unless ordered by the court amendments to trust deeds are the responsibilty of its trustees.

Structure of the Trust Board

The number of trustees and their method and term of appointment are matters specified in the trust deed. A change in structure will require amendments to the deed.

At the national hui held at Turangawaewae in April four proposals for the structure of the Trust were put forward and the working party is presently seeking feedback about those proposals. Before the national hui Hone Harawira called for the resignation and replacement of the TKRNT trustees, to be replaced by a younger generation, and on 13 June he was reported calling for a board of 20 trustees, one female and one male from each of the ten kohanga reo regions.

For a start I think 20 trustees would be way over the top and would turn the trust into more of a parliamentary and political caucus than a trust established in Equity.

I said caucus not circus!

Then I think that the criteria of integrity, competence and maturity should be paramount regardless of region and the very best should be sought from whatever region.

At the moment according to the TKRNT website there are nine trustees and I personally think that is too many and that seven who meet the criteria of integrity, competence and maturity would be about right. Decisions such as this should be made in the best interests of the trust and the workings of the trust, not in the interests of representation which is not a concept in trust law.

However in deference to calls for greater input from kohanga whanau to the decision making of the trustees I would employ the mechanism of advisory trustees. Advisory trustees are provided for in the Trustee Act 1956 and are widely used by the Maori Trustee in the management of Maori lands. Advisory Trustees are not decision makers but are present and can participate in deliberations. The decision making power rests with the Responsible Trustees.

Ten advisory trustees could be appointed, one from each region, against the criteria of integrity, competence and maturity. They would also serve as a pool of potential Responsible Trustees where they would become acquainted with the Trust and be evaluated for suitability for appointment as Responsible Trustees in their turn.

That may be one of the proposals put to the national hui. I wasn’t there.

Whatever course the Trust decides upon I would employ the very best trust lawyer I could find, whether Maori or Pakeha. I would think the best place to look would be in the big legal partnerships. This is a tricky time for the Trust caught between disaffected and crusading whanau, the media, opinionated commentators, and the Minister and Ministry of Education. I have found that the best trust lawyers are worth their weight in gold in finding ways through such demanding situations.

And in the end trust law is all there is in defining the governance of trusts in Tikanga Equity. We need to abide by it and we need to be good at it.

Democracy and Te Kohanga Reo National Trust

I have already observed that there is nothing democratic about trust law. So moving on from trust law let’s look at democracy.

The Kohanga Reo Movement is not a democracy and never has been. The Kohanga Reo Movement is a kaupapa.

Within that kaupapa each kohanga is locally focused on its own mokopuna and is managed by the whanau within the funding provided by Ministry of Education through Te Kohanga Reo National Trust. With that funding comes the obligations and regulations that accompany all government funding. As providers for pre-school aged children each kohanga is also required to abide by a strict regulatory framework designed to ensure the care, health and safety of mokopuna.

There is not much room for deviation and nothing democratic about the funding, care, health and safety regime imposed by government. And just like the government the Trust imposes its own regulatory regime.

What is this talk about democracy and about representation?

If the Minister for Education and others insist on the Movement becoming more democratic the question needs to be asked whether the network of early childhood centres answering directly to the Ministry will be made more democratic as well. As the primary provider to that network will the Ministry itself become a more democratic organisation? I think not.

And if the Kohanga Reo Movement were to come under the direct jurisdiction of the Ministry would the Ministry make it more democratic? I think not. I think it would be less democratic.

So what is this talk about democracy and about representation?

If you look at schools and early childhood centres in the Ministry network they are all self governing and managing within the legislation and regulatory framework and within their allocated budgets but they have no say whatsoever in anything that happens beyond their own boundary fence. If you look at kohanga reo they are all self governing and managing within the legislation and regulatory framework and within their allocated budgets and they don’t have much say in what happens beyond their boundary fence.

In both cases what is important to them happens almost entirely inside the boundary fence and not in Wellington. The difference between them is that one is a mandatory government curriculum and the other is a kaupapa not designed, developed and dictated by government. The Kohanga Reo Movement is a kaupapa, and one that the Trust has fiercely defended and protected for 32 years.

So now some in the Movement and some outside the Movement think it should now be about democracy and representation. In whose interest would that be? In the interest of the kaupapa? In the interest of Te Reo? In the interests of the mokopuna? In the interests of the whanau? Whose interests?

I’m looking for the rationale here. Is this talk of democracy and representation about the kaupapa or is it about something else?

I think it would be a good thing for the Movement to move into a new phase in its evolution and to make provision for more formal input into Trust decision making and more transparency of that decision making. But we don’t need to tear the Trust apart to achieve that. Nor do we need to open trusteeship up to elections or something similar. There are other ways to achieve that.

In my time with the Movement I remember Dame Te Atairangikaahu and Dame Iritana being constantly on the move throughout the Movement meeting, talking and listening to the whanau, letting them know what was happening and listening to their concerns, coming back  to Wellington and lighting fires under the staff to fix things that needed fixing. Well, it was just Iritana who lit the fires. And it was Iritana who did most of the talking and the Lady who did most of the listening. It was a great double act. That’s how it was achieved then. I was with them occasionally.

How times have changed.

The author is not an expert in trust law but has picked up a bit of knowledge here and there. This article is intended as a guide to trust law as it affects Te Kohanga Reo National Trust (and all trusts) as well as further commentary on the continuing debate about the Trust.


I notice that Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and Maori TV CEO Paora Maxwell have just (18 June) “Friended” each other on Facebook. Now isn’t THAT interesting.

Postscript 20th June 2014

Maori TVs Native Affairs team has won two international awards from the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network for their investigative journalism, one of them for the programme “Feathering the Nest” about Te Kohanga Reo National Trust and Te Pataka Ohanga Ltd. See “Anatomy of a Scandal” below for the alternative story to “Feathering the Nest”.

Related Articles:

The Origins of Corporate Iwi
TKRNT and Credit Card Usage at Te Pataka Ohanga Ltd
Anatomy of a Scandal- Te Kohanga Reo National Trust

Minister Parata Interview

Native Affairs

Draining the Swamp – Some Fundamentals for Maori Policy Makers

In previous posts I have been looking at Maori policy and have come to a few conclusions about past and present policy, primarily;

  1. Channelling policy initiatives through neo-tribal organisations or corporate iwi has not and will not address the development or advancement needs of most Maori;
  2. Such policy most benefits the Maori elites rather than Maori most in need;
  3. A focus on the Treaty of Waitangi and on cultural and language retention and revitalisation, whilst a beneficial policy for Maori, has not and will not address the real social and economic advancement needs of MOST Maori.

I am yet to be persuaded about the present Whanau Ora initiative. It seems to me to be an “ambulance at the bottom of the cliff” policy focused on helping whanau to cope with life at the bottom of the socio-economic heap, perhaps giving false hope that they might be able to climb out of where they are, rather than dealing to the complete environment and to the societal and economic reasons why they are trapped at the bottom of the heap.

If that is so what then should be the focus of Maori policy.

  1. It should focus on the social and economic advancement of all Maori wherever they are and where they are, in relatively large numbers at the bottom of the socio-economic heap, and mainly in the cities rather in than the rural homelands which are the domain of most corporate iwi,
  2. It should prioritise the needs of those Maori MOST IN NEED and should DIRECTLY address those needs;
  3. It should address causes of disadvantage rather than symptoms or effects.

Statistics that form the narrative of Maori disadvantage have been used as the basis of Maori policy for decades beginning in my living memory in 1961 with the Hunn Report on the Department of Maori Affairs. Perhaps the main consequence of that report was a rapid rise in migration of Maori to the cities. In the last thirty years that same but evolving narrative has underpinned a bewildering succession of reports and policies. Te Putatara has a somewhat different perspective and statistical narrative (see here). The telling and retelling of the statistical narrative by the policy makers has rarely resulted in policies that meet the above criteria.

There are perhaps three reasons why that is so:

Firstly, once the narrative has been retold in the form of yet another report policy purportedly designed to address the identified needs has actually been designed to conform to prevailing beliefs and ideology rather than real need. The belief in the relevance of iwi, based on the false post-colonial whanau-hapu-iwi construct, has dominated since the 1980s and has resulted in the formation of corporate iwi and in their capture of resources, and the present dominance of “Iwi Leaders” in matters of Maori policy. A belief in a neoliberal “trickle down” theory of economic policy has resulted in the present focus on Maori business grandiosely described as the Maori economy, and despite the telling and retelling of the success of this mythical “Maori economy” little movement can be seen at the bottom of the heap.

The retention and revitalisation of language and culture was a powerful pou whakapono that brought with it many policies notably in education and broadcasting. Those policies were believed by many of their ardent proponents to be the key that would unlock the social and economic barriers to Maori social and economic advancement. It has not been so. Having said that I do not quibble with the desirability of cultural and language retention. I do however question it as a policy designed to address the social and economic advancement of those most in need. An intellectual justification can be found in the argument that identity and self-esteem should be enhanced through cultural and language revival and that may lead to greater success in climbing out of socio-economic disparity. But the statistical record says that that is no more than theory.

The Treaty of Waitangi was another powerful pou whakapono used to drive the so-called Maori Renaissance and to justify much policy but of and in itself has delivered little to those most in need and much to the elites who control Maori resources.

A great deal of Maori policy has therefore delivered the ideology and has not dealt to needs.

Secondly, using poverty as an example, policy seems not to take into account the phenomenon of reproductive replacement.  For instance every person or whanau that is moved out of poverty into the middle class, whether by their own efforts or with help from community or state, is replaced by those who are born into poverty (or other disparity). Policy designed to move people out of poverty must aim to do so faster than the birth or replacement rate. To do otherwise is to accept that no matter how many are rescued from poverty the number of poor will nevertheless continue to increase.

The lesson is that framing policies aimed at individuals or their whanau rather than at the whole problem of poverty will be self-defeating except in the case of fortunate individuals or individual whanau.

Thirdly, policies that would address the real needs of those most in need are too hard, beyond the purview of Maori policy makers, and beyond their ability to deliver policy that would work. And that is because those policies that would work would focus almost entirely on broad national social and economic ideology and policy rather than just on Maori. National social and economic policy is itself driven by prevailing ideologies, at the moment a political and somewhat corrupted version of neoliberal economics. Ministers of Maori Affairs or Maori Development do not have their hands on the social and economic levers of power and are therefore powerless to make a real difference, even if they knew how.

What they and their policy advisors then do is to focus on what they can do within Vote Maori and that is invariably guided by their own ideology and by the prevailing ideology of the Maori elites and so the circle is complete and we are back where we started.

The levers of power that if pulled in the right direction would deliver real social and economic advancement to those Maori most in need are the economic levers held closely by the small group of cabinet ministers in the inner sanctum, whatever their political hue. For at least three decades social policy that might address the real needs of most Maori has been subservient to questionable economic policy. Only when economic policy is designed to serve society and social policy will those needs be addressed, not just for Maori but for all those in need. At the moment policy first addresses the interests of the elites, whether Maori or Pakeha.

The landscape over which this policy saga plays out stretches from the low lying swamp in which the least well off survive, to the distant mountain and the clear air where the rich have their palatial homes. In between the two are the lowland plains where most New Zealanders live and the foothills of increasing height that are the domain of the better off. In the highest of these foothills is the castle called Parliament which houses the levers of power over this whole landscape. It also houses those who have their hands on those levers and are the lords of the landscape but who are by choice (i.e. ideology) also the servants of the mountain dwellers. A few of them are themselves mountain dwellers.

The swamp is where disease is most prevalent; diseases of both body and mind and the diseases of society including chronic poverty and unemployment. There are alligators in the swamp in the form of drugs and alcohol, crime and violence. The alligators not only devour many of the swamp dwellers, they also serve to corral them inside the swamp. On the banks of the swamp are the tents of the well-meaning including the Whanau Ora tent, It is from these tents that intrepid community and social workers, health workers and educators, both state and volunteer, venture into the swamp to work with the swamp dwellers to try to alleviate the condition of their lives and hopefully to bring some individuals and whanau out of the swamp onto the plains.

The statistical evidence clearly indicates that they are fighting a losing battle.

An engineer would approach the challenge of the swamp in an entirely different way. The engineer would drain the swamp and convert it into fertile ground, an extension of the plains.

The lords of the landscape and their mountain dwelling puppet-masters have absolutely no interest in diverting resources to the engineers to apply their expertise to the challenge. Over the last thirty years the resources have been moving in exactly the opposite direction, from the swamp and the plains into the foothills and up the mountain. That has been despite thirty years of assurances that the more resources the mountain dwellers acquire the more will trickle down to the plains and the swamp. Money it seems does not behave at all like the water that falls on the mountain and eventually forms the swamp. The mountain dwellers know that and do whatever it takes to preserve the status quo and the lords of the landscape remain blinded by perverse ideology to the dominant agenda of the mountain folk.

The hill dwellers also benefit from this reverse flow of resources. And it is in these hills that the Maori elites dwell, some of them on the hill they have named the Maori Economy. Somewhat amazingly some on that hill maintain that they too live in the swamp alongside their less fortunate whanaunga.

The challenge for Maori policy makers is first of all to free themselves from the ideology of the Maori elites and then to obtain and divert sufficient resources to the engineers. To do that Maori have to storm the castle called Parliament and get their hands on the levers of power. Maori have actually been storming that castle for decades now and have established footholds on the ramparts. Indeed the Maori Party has accepted an invitation to climb down from the ramparts to dine at the long table in the great dining hall. There they feast with the lords of the landscape and send doggy bags of goodies to the Maori elites and crumbs to the plains and swamp dwellers.

But they still do not have their hands on the levers of power for those are safe within the inner sanctum or citadel. They talk of having to sit at the table before anything can be achieved. They try to convince themselves and the rest of us that the great dining hall is the citadel. But it isn’t. That’s deep inside the castle and has its own moat and drawbridge. The Maori Party have been given the keys to the house but not the combination to the safe.

How then do Maori get their hands on the levers in the safe; in the citadel. The bald reality is that Maori cannot do it alone. The swamp is home to Maori, Pasifika and Pakeha and the draining of the swamp will be a joint undertaking. The storming of the citadel will also need to be a joint campaign which will require a broad political coalition of Maori, Pasifika and Pakeha with the singular intent of draining the swamp through making economic policy serve the needs of society rather than the reverse.

So much for the metaphor of the swamp, the plains, the foothills, the mountain, the castle, and the citadel. Almost.

The storming of the citadel is not a narrow Maori policy matter. It is a matter of broad social and economic policy which are areas largely ignored by Maori policy makers including Maori politicians, cabinet ministers, their advisors, Maori academics and researchers. It follows then that what is urgently needed in Maori policy is to refocus from the present narrow scope of policy deliberation onto broad social and economic policy. And economic expertise in Maori policy making is the single greatest deficiency preventing that.

The rationale for draining the swamp cannot be developed without it. It behoves politicians, bureaucrats, academics, researchers and activists to become not just economically literate but economically expert if they are to challenge the status quo. This is no short term quest.

There are those on the “Left” who are advocating a coalition of the Labour, Green, Internet and Mana Parties to defeat the Key-led Government in the coming elections who might interpret this article as support for that notion. You’re dreaming. “Te Putatara” doesn’t support any political party. And in any case there is no-one with economic literacy or expertise in the Mana Party, none visible in the Internet Party, perhaps one person in the Green Party and certainly none in the parliamentary Labour Party. So you’re dreaming anyway. Even if you do pull it off you’ll need more than ideological intent to defeat the entrenched economic ideology in the Treasury, Reserve Bank and many other government agencies, you’ll need real economic expertise. You don’t have it. Mind you nor does the parliamentary National Party but they don’t need it. They’ve got Treasury pulling their strings, as Treasury has done ever since it subverted and captured the Lange/Douglas Labour Government in 1984. You’ll need to capture Treasury as well.

In the next post I will explore what economic literacy and expertise looks like.

Related Essays

Mai i Hawaiki ki Hawaiki: The Evolution of Maori Culture
The Evolution of Pakeha Culture
The Maori Worldview and Maori Policy
The Mythology of the Whanau-Hapu-Iwi Construct
The Origins of Corporate Iwi
The Maori Economy – A Fanciful Notion
The Myth of the Maori Entrepreneur
The Treaty of Waitangi Revisited
Te Ture Whenua Maori Review – Who Benefits? 
Perspectives of Time, Small Prophecy & Maori Policy

Perspectives of time, small prophecy, and Maori policy

Whimsical ruminations and ramblings of an unbeliever in which there might be a sliver of truth, or might not depending on your time perspective and ideological mindset.

Our time perspective is a learned state of mind. It is one of the most influential and least recognized factors in the psychology and lives of all of us.

“Ka mura, ka muri”

Walking backwards into the future” was a perception of time common in many cultures before the onset of the modern era and with it our raging addiction to discovery, progress, and relentless and rapid change. The ancient Egyptians feared and hated change. It was the great obsession that they held to for three thousand years trying to stop time by avoiding change. Fundamentalist religion is equally devoted to staving off the future. I know Maori, some highly educated, who fiercely try to hold off change and to live in the past, albeit an imagined nostalgic and romantic past.

To resist living in one’s own time, to attempt to live in an imaginary past, is human in the same way that being neurotic is human.” – American scholar Edward Mendelson.

Apprehension about the future is still common in the present era but unlike the Egyptians of old we can no longer hold it at bay. However we still tend to cling to the past, or to a romantic and nostalgic version of it for we are much more kindly disposed to the past than to the future. To many or perhaps most people the past is a safe and comforting retreat from the uncertainty of the future.

But the future, however uncertain or even threatening, is the inexorable and inevitable continuation of the past. See Mai i Hawaiki ki Hawaiki”.

There are those who live entirely in the past and everything in the present is viewed through the lens of the past, whether real, re-imagined or reconstructed, mostly re-imagined and reconstructed, for that is how the human mind remembers the past. The past is invariably re-made to serve the perceived needs of the present. Much Maori policy is built from within this viewpoint. Whether or not the past is viewed from a positive or negative perspective will greatly influence the life being lived. It will also influence Maori policy for there are positives as well as negatives in our post-settlement history and to dwell upon the one at the expense of the other is to cast policy into grievance or victim mode.

Then there are those who live only in the present with little or no perception of the past or regard for the future, or for the consequences of present day choices. Those who are drug or substance addicted, gambling addicted and food addicted, are extreme examples. Hedonists living only for the pleasures of the present are another example, usually in adolescence or early adulthood, but often persisting into maturity. Fatalists are those who believe that their lives are controlled entirely by forces they cannot influence such as religion or other beliefs about predestination. Fatalists can also be those who adopt the mantle of victimhood and believe that there is nothing they can do to raise themselves out of their present state, perhaps even that the whole of society is conspiring against them. They live entirely in the present.

There are degrees of present time focus. It is short term thinking and Maori policy interventions are often the result of this type of thinking.

Socio economic status is closely related to time perspective. Those on the lowest income levels and those with higher school dropout rates are more likely to be present oriented. Their time perspective may be a result of their station in life but their station in life may also be attributable in some degree to time perspective; to their psychology. Those who are able to lift themselves out of the lower socio economic group are invariably future focused.

Research indicates that those who are future oriented adults exhibit some of the following:

  • Live in a temperate zone;
  • Live in a stable family, society and nation;
  • If religious are protestant or Jewish;
  • Are educated;
  • Are young or middle-aged adults;
  • Have a job;
  • Use technology regularly;
  • Are successful;
  • Have future-oriented role models; and
  • Are recovering from childhood illness.

However, most future oriented people also tend to view the future through the lens of either the past or the present, or both. In fact most people tend to live in an immediate past and do not even see the present as it really is. In this rapidly changing modern world most people do not keep up with what is happening around them, or what is happening in the wider world. Important scientific discoveries for instance are unknown to most people for decades even though the knowledge and perspectives gained from those discoveries will change forever our understanding of the world and our own lives. We do not keep up with change and therefore consign ourselves to living life in an immediate past rather than the actual present.

In the main it is not a harmful perspective. Except in the case of the frog in the pot of water being slowly raised to boiling point without taking notice.

Academics and policy researchers are not immune to the frog in the pot phenomenon. Academics tend to construct their lifelong professional perspectives early in their careers through their undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate research, and through their interpretation of that research in theses. If they further their research and studies it is usually built upon the conclusions of their initial research rather than upon new interpretations of old knowledge in the light of new evidence, or new knowledge as a result of new research. Their teaching careers are almost always built upon their early studies and qualification. Academics like most people from all walks of life rarely re-evaluate their beliefs and change their worldviews in the light of new evidence. Few even seek out new evidence that might result in changed beliefs and worldviews.

Thus it is in the academy that old knowledge and old ideas are passed on from old minds to new minds. Some of those students become policy makers. Thus it is that the past is perpetuated.

Outside of academia people rarely discard the core beliefs and worldviews they adopt in childhood and adolescence, whether from their churches, their families or from their peer groups. Outside their own academic disciplines academics also retain the core beliefs and worldviews of their childhood and adolescence. So in that sense most of us are living within a time perspective framed in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, depending on our level of education both formal and informal, and subsequent experience. Even though we may be future oriented that future is seen through the lens of our perception of past or present.

It is said in the Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism:

“We see things not as they are but as we are”

The ancients, without the benefit of the modern science of cognitive psychology, understood the human mind and its propensity to see the world as a reflection of itself and to build the narratives it wants to believe. We in the modern world still see the world as we are, not as it is, and there are many factors that influence how we are and how we see things, our time perspective being one of the most influential and least recognised.

What has all that got to do with prophecy?

Prophecy is not necessarily the ability to see into the future. Most often it just involves describing the present that others don’t see or don’t yet see. To them it seems like foretelling of the future. It has to do with perceptions of time. I describe this as small prophecy as opposed to the grand prophecy of soothsayers and matakite, the perception of that which is beyond perception.

Small prophecy is the ability to set aside one’s own time perspective, beliefs and worldviews, to search out and discover what is actually happening in the present, and then to describe it. Small prophecy is seeing the present. Grand prophecy is seeing the future.

The previous essay “The Maori Worldview and Maori Policy” was a small essay into small prophecy, describing the condition and status and worldviews of Maori as they are in the present.

The maker of small prophecy, the seer of the present, must also be prepared to change beliefs, worldviews and perspectives in the light of new evidence. Changing one’s beliefs even in the face of the most compelling evidence is one of the hardest things for a person to do, after public speaking and accepting the inevitability of death. Given that most people are not fully aware of the present, and may not become aware of present reality for years, or decades, if ever, the act of describing the present is an act of prophecy. For most people it is a distant reality in their own knowledge and understanding for even if they hear it or read it they may not actually perceive it until sometime in the future.

For those who lives are framed entirely in the past perspective any telling of the actual present is beyond belief. Politicians and the ideologically fixated as a class seem to be drawn in disproportionate numbers from the inhabitants of an imagined past.

The work of academics and policy makers informs Maori policy. Although future oriented much of it is built upon past perspective or upon a present perspective that is out of synch with present reality.

Layered upon that is the political governance of ministers of the Crown who drive the direction of policy which is invariably ideological and based in the beliefs, worldviews and perspectives of the politician, formed in his or her childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, hopelessly out of synch with present reality and future needs.

To state the obvious, policy is therefore inexact and unlikely to provide direction to meet long term needs, or even short to medium term needs. That applies as much to economic policy, health, welfare, education, foreign affairs, defence and national security policy as it does to Maori policy. As nations we seem to muddle through. Governments change but policy direction does not change dramatically despite the initial flurry of post-election policy activity before policy inertia sets in again. Policy might not achieve much that is useful but it can and does hinder the beneficial evolution of our individual and collective lives and livelihoods.

That can be a somewhat pessimistic outlook on life. The engaged optimist therefore either ignores the reality of policy inexactitude and prejudice and simply believes for believing is much easier and more comforting than thinking; or being an ideological unbeliever seeks solace in a better future by indulging in small prophecy about what really is and what might be, guarding against the innate human tendency to wishful thinking and ever mindful and accepting that no one is listening.

Most people aren’t engaged and simply don’t care. Most people follow the sports news or the celebrity news rather than political news and remain happily ignorant of policy until it affects them personally. It is probably the most sensible if somewhat fatalistic approach.

Every now and then, in the modern timeframe about every thirty to fifty years, there is a policy jolt and we are forced by circumstance to catch up on decades of time denial and policy lethargy. The optimist of small prophecy is partially vindicated as prophecy belatedly becomes reality. There is an “I told you so” moment. But even then policy makers and legislators invariably misread the signs in the goat’s entrails and send us off into yet another policy time warp in which a version of the past is mistaken for the present and the future is divined through a combination of ideological day dreaming and wishful thinking.

One would think that it would be an easy matter for law makers and policy advisors to understand all of this and to sit down and rationally and logically discern the actual present as opposed to an adolescent, idealistic or ideological version of the past substituting as the present. To engage in small prophecy and at least to devise policy for the actual present.

Were that the case in Maori policy we would not:

  • Aim policy at the needs and aspirations of the Maori elites who in reality are not in need of policy assistance;
  • Pursue language and cultural revival as a substitute for overall Maori advancement; and
  • Focus on the development of corporate iwi and on business development as a substitute for overall Maori economic development.

We would:

  • Focus instead on the real needs of most Maori people, especially the poor and struggling;
  • Let the elites look after themselves; and
  • Be specific about the aims of policies of language and cultural revival, and corporate iwi and business development, instead of cloaking them in the mantle of “Maori development”.

It is I know a giant and impossible step from there to devise policy that recognizes the multiple possibilities of an uncertain future flexible enough to adapt as required. Unfortunately ideology is diametrically opposed to recognition of multiple uncertain futures and to flexibility of both mind and policy. But we could just focus on the actual present; on the evidence before our eyes.

However none of that is possible in Maori policy without a re-alignment of macro-economic policy. One of the delusions of legislators, policy makers and policy advisors is that their policy makes a beneficial difference. Most of it doesn’t but macro-economic policy does make a difference, beneficial or otherwise, and it has long term effects.

After World War II Keynesian economic policies and trade union advocacy helped lift thousands out of poverty and into the middle class but eventually Robert Muldoon took it too far and created a command economy akin to the communist/socialist economies he detested. Whereas Muldoon had tried to hold back the tide Roger Douglas corrected the excesses of Muldoon and brought the New Zealand economy into the real world. But Douglas and after him Ruth Richardson took it too far and brought in harsh neo-liberal ideologically driven policies that over the next thirty years entrenched inequality and poverty into the political economy.

” … almost all the increase in our economic inequality stems from the reductions in the effectiveness of the redistribution system as a result of the lower taxes on the rich introduced by Rogernomics and of the benefit cuts under Ruthanasia”.

– Brian Easton, Book Review of “Inequality: A NZ Crisis”, Listener, 10 Oct 2013.

Ironically Maori policy over that same period has ostensibly been aimed at improving the lot of most Maori yet macro-economic policy has worked powerfully in exactly the opposite direction. Policy aimed at overall Maori development and Maori advancement makes very little if any difference to the lives of most Maori unless macro-economic policy is aligned. It is not aligned, not in the least. Maori policy over the last thirty years has however succeeded in aligning the mindset of a minority of Maori, the elites, with the neo-liberal agendas that drive it.

Unfortunately for Maori and for Aotearoa New Zealand the political and economic elites still have their noses buried in the imagined past and their eyes fixed on a delusional future divined in ideological day dreaming and wishful thinking. Neo-liberal macro-economic policy sometimes described as zombie economics reigns still despite the evidence of the collapse of financial markets in the Global Financial Crisis due to naked greed and a lack of political will and regulation to curb the greed. Neo-liberal policy reigns still despite the evidence of growing and increasingly entrenched inequality and poverty.

Which is what defines most Maori despite thirty years of Maori policy; inequality and poverty. The evidence is there in the present for all to see yet few seem aware of the reality of the present. It is the hugely influential psychological phenomenon of time perspective at work.

The Maori elites themselves, influencing and making Maori policy, seem seduced by their own achievement and somehow convinced that more of the same policy and the benefits they have accrued from it will somehow trickle down and raise the standard of living for the rest of Maori. They too are living in a re-imagined and reconstructed past, an imagined present and focused on a delusional future.

So much for the whimsical ruminations and ramblings of an unbeliever, yet ever an optimist. A long-term inter-generational perspective is required of an optimist. Things do gradually get better over time despite unhelpful time perspectives, ideological backwaters, side channels and dams, and despite politicians and policy makers and their stop-go, around-and-around-and-around-and-around policies.

For poor and struggling Maori Christmases come and go with monotonous regularity marking neither change nor advancement in their lives but just the passing of another 365 days of struggle and the prospect of another 365 days exactly the same. For most of them the past is the present and the present is the future.

They are the ones described in “Duino Elegies” by the Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke as the “disinherited ones to whom neither the past nor the future belongs”.

Boxing Day, 2013.

Related Essays

Mai i Hawaiki ki Hawaiki: The Evolution of Maori Culture
The Evolution of Pakeha Culture
The Maori Worldview and Maori Policy
The Mythology of the Whanau-Hapu-Iwi Construct
The Origins of Corporate Iwi
The Maori Economy – A Fanciful Notion
The Myth of the Maori Entrepreneur
The Treaty of Waitangi Revisited
Te Ture Whenua Maori Review – Who Benefits?

The Maori Worldview & Maori Policy

“Given a choice between their worldview and the facts, it’s always interesting how many people toss the facts”.

– Rebecca Solnit

What is the Maori worldview? Does my worldview represent the Maori worldview? Does yours? In a previous essay, “The Evolution of Pakeha Culture”, I wrote about how the Maori worldview had been transformed and shaped by contact, adoption and adaptation of European culture. In this essay I will look at some of the facts to discover just what the Maori worldview might be in the 21st Century. It might be a difficult task.

The Maori elites in academia, education, politics, public service, and in the burgeoning Maori business and services sector (including neo-tribal corporate iwi) promote their worldview as the Maori worldview. It is broadly based on cleaving to “traditional” tikanga values, incorporating them into their various fields of endeavour, and on speaking Te Reo Maori. For instance the Kaupapa Maori model of research developed by Professors Graham and Linda Smith is now the standard research model in the universities and elsewhere. Matauranga Maori is the new academic epistemological niche in which many Maori academics now ply their trade. Many of the elites in the Maori business sector (grandiosely named the Maori economy) proclaim a Maori model of business and business management based on tikanga. In education many assume that Maori medium education is the model that represents the Maori worldview.

These elites however comprise just a fraction of the Maori population. The assumption that the rest of the Maori population follow their lead and accept their version of a Maori worldview needs to be tested for it is of vital importance in the making of Maori policy for all Maori. We need to look at all Maori rather than at the dominant Maori elites and their proclaimed worldview.

The data

A good place to start on this journey of discovery is with some census and population statistics that can tell us a lot about who and where we are. Being ethnically Maori and identifying as Maori would be the foundation of a Maori worldview, if there is one:

  • As at 2013 there are 668,724 people of Maori descent in Aotearoa New Zealand; and
  • 598,605 (89.5%) of those identify as Maori.

Of those who identify as Maori:

  • 273,192 (45.6%) identified Māori and one other ethnicity;
  • 38,079 (6.4%) identified Māori and two other ethnicities;
  • 9,138 (1.5%) identified Māori and three or more other ethnicities;
  • 278.196 (46.5%) identified only as Maori (although that does not mean that all or most of them do not have other ethnic heritage); and therefore
  • We are of at least one other heritage as well as Maori.

Language and religion are two of the cornerstones of worldviews and cultures. That the fusion of Maori and European cultures is a dominant feature is shown in these statistics:

  • 100% of Maori speak the English language; and
  • In 2006 98% of Maori declared that they were Christian indicating that one of the foundations of the modern Maori worldview if it exists is a transplanted European religion which has its roots in a Middle Eastern tribal mythology.

With regard to traditional identity through whakapapa (but not necessarily modern allegiance) we find that:

  • 18.5% don’t know which “iwi” they belong to; and therefore that
  • 81.5% do know which “iwi” they belong to, indicating that whakapapa might still be a strong influence in the worldviews of most Maori; however
  • To find out what percentage of Maori really know their whakapapa we would need to know what percentage of Maori know which hapu they belong to, and it will certainly be a lot less than 81.5%. Official statistics focus on “iwi” affiliation which is a modern inaccurate measure of whakapapa affiliation (see The Mythology of the Whanau Hapu Iwi Construct).

From there the cohesion starts to splinter. About traditional values and practices we find that;

  • 21.3% of Maori speak Te Reo Maori at a conversational level;
  • 79.7% don’t speak Te Reo Maori; and
  • Only 2.3% of eligible Maori students are enrolled in Maori medium education, meaning that 97.7% are enrolled in mainstream education.

The electoral rolls and polls tell a different but similar story about affiliation and identity in matters political:

  • As at 24 July 2013 there were 256,212 people (55.7%) enrolled on the Maori electoral rolls and 203,640 people of Maori descent (44.3%) on the General roll, a total of 459,852 registered electors.
  • As at December 2013 the Maori Party is polling at 1.3% and the Mana Party at 0.9%.

We are mostly city dwellers indicating that most of us live removed from our traditional hapu and marae, and also removed from the neo-tribal corporate iwi that are now dominant in Maori policy formation and delivery:

  • In New Zealand about 87% live in the North Island;
  • 84.4% live in urban areas;
  • 23.8% live in the Auckland region;
  • 14% in the Waikato region;
  • 11.5% in the Bay of Plenty region; and
  • 9.7% in the Wellington region.

Many Maori are Australian Maori;

  • There are about 128,500 Maori (or about 17.6% of all Australasian Maori) living in Australia, many in regular physical and digital contact between the two countries; and
  • To many Maori whanau Australia and New Zealand are now virtually the same country.

A snapshot of the socio economic landscape

Socio economic statistics provide an indication of the lives of Maori. Income is a primary indicator of socio economic status. There are two measures of an adequate income, the “living wage” and the “minimum wage”:

  • The “living wage” is $57,432 per annum per household (of 1.5 adult earners), or $18.41 per hour per adult wage earner. That equates to $38,288 per annum for a single adult;
  • The “minimum wage” for a single adult is $28,600 per annum, or $13.75 per hour;
  • The median income for Maori is $22,500 per annum, meaning that 50% of Maori over 15 earn $22,500 or less; and therefore
  • Most adult Maori are earning less than the minimum wage and considerably less than a living wage.

In my whanau and hapu we have some who have made it into the middle class, some who live in poverty and many in the middle who struggle to make ends meet. I imagine that we are representative of Maori society as a whole. There are also many single mothers, a status that almost always consigns them and their children to the ranks of the poor or struggling.

The Poor

  • In the thirty years since the mid-1980s New Zealand has fallen in the OECD rankings of income inequality across 34 developed countries from one of the more equal near the top of the rankings to below 20 in the rankings; and
  • that growth in inequality has fallen disproportionately upon Maori.

New Zealand, for obvious political reasons, does not have an official “poverty line” but a generally accepted measure of poverty is a household income equating to just 60% of the national median income after housing costs are deducted:

  • The national median income is $28,500, being $36,000 for males and $23,100 for females (50% earn less than the median income and 50% earn more);
  • The poverty line for a family of 2 adults and 2 children would be about $24,000 per annum; and
  • For a family of 1 adult and 1 child it would be about $16,000 per annum.

Data concerning Maori poverty includes the following;

  • 15.6% of employment aged Maori in New Zealand were unemployed in 2013, up from 11% in 2006;
  • 50% of all Maori aged 15 and over earn less than $22,500 per annum. At least 50% of Maori are poor or struggling or both;
  • 1 in 3 Maori children are living in poverty;
  • The percentage of Maori living in poverty has almost doubled over the last 30 years. Those were the years of the Maori renaissance, Maori programme delivery, Maori medium education, language revival initiatives, treaty settlements, corporate iwi, and the promotion of the fanciful “Maori economy”; and the years of the neo-liberal political economy; and
  • Maori make up about 33% of all working age welfare beneficiaries.

Maori have always been over-represented in the underprivileged, unemployed and unqualified class of citizenry for reasons not entirely, or not even, of their own making. Since the neo-liberal economic revolution of the 1980s and 1990s inequality of income and wealth has dramatically increased and Maori are overwhelmingly over-represented in the ranks of the poor.

The Struggling

  • 33% of Maori have no formal qualifications.
  • Of those in employment about 19.4% are labourers.

Then there are the many who may not be in poverty, and may even be employed part-time or full-time but on low wages, and who live above the poverty line but who nevertheless struggle to make ends meet. They tend to be invisible to policy makers but they are probably the majority of Maori.

Middle Class

  • 36,000+ Maori have at least one university degree;
  • About 17.5% of adult Maori earn over $50,000; and
  • 16.4% of Maori in employment are professionals, and 11.6% managers.

This is where the elites reside although not all middle class Maori participate in the activities of the elites. There has been a steady increase in the numbers of Maori joining the socio economic middle class. They include the university educated and those with trade or other qualifications. Qualification seems to be the gateway to the middle class. The middle class is still a minority.

High Earners

  • About 7.5% of adult Maori earn over $70,000; and
  • About 2.5% earn over $100,000.

As in general society the growing inequality of incomes and wealth is reflected in Maori society with just a few individuals and whanau benefitting from neo-liberal political and economic policies.

The Maori Employment Sector

In “The Origins of Corporate Iwi” I noted that there is “a fast growing Maori employment and career sector that did not exist 25 years ago”. It comprises corporate iwi, non-tribal providers, Maori broadcasters, Maori land incorporations, Maori medium education and statutory Maori bodies such as Te Puni Kokiri, the Maori Trustee, Te Taurawhiri i Te Reo Maori and others. It is difficult to determine just how many Maori are employed in this sector but with just 17.5% of adult Maori earning over $50,000 it must be a small minority. That belies the belief held by many that it is a statistically significant sector and that the re-invention of the “iwi” holds the key to the advancement of Maori in general. Most Maori remain in the Poor and Struggling categories.

Welfare Beneficiaries

  • Maori make up 33% of all working age welfare beneficiaries.

Whilst the much proclaimed pepeha says, “Ko te kai a te rangatira he korero”, I maintain, “Ko te mahi a te rangatira he kai”. The real rangatira is the one who feeds the people.

Work & Income New Zealand (WINZ) is by far the biggest provider for the Maori people. As providers the kaikorero in corporate iwi come a distant last.

Alcohol and other Substances

Alcohol is still a major social problem as it has been since colonisation but we now have other drugs as well. There are many Maori whanau with a member or members whose lives have been blighted by drugs, some to the point where they are seriously mentally ill and institutionalised. In Auckland the gangs are handing out free “P” to 10 year olds, getting them addicted and turning them into customers by the time they are 12. The gangs hang about outside the schools to prey on the young. It’s good business.

Alcohol and drug addiction is not solely confined to the poor but poverty is a major factor in substance abuse. And Maori comprise a disproportionate number of the poor.


The rate of criminal offending is linked directly to poverty and to the proportion of young males in a community. Maori are again over-represented in both. 80% of criminal offending is committed while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Theft is also prevalent among drug users, committed to pay for the addiction.

“Maori are being imprisoned at a rate six times that of non-Maori. For Maori males born in 1975, it is estimated that 22 per cent had a Corrections managed sentence before their twentieth birthday, and 44 percent had a Corrections managed sentence by the age of thirty-five”.

– Kim Workman and Tracy McIntosh, 2013, “Crime, Imprisonment and Poverty”, in “Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis”, ed Max Rashbrooke, Bridget Williams Books.

It is well known that Maori comprise about 50% of all prisoners. Prison is just part of the reality of a great many Maori and their whanau.

Maori age statistics

Most Maori are young Maori:

  • The median age of Maori is 23.9 years meaning that half of all Maori are aged under 24; and
  • 33.8% of Maori are aged 15 years or less.

What do the statistics tell us?

That information doesn’t tell us what our Maori worldview is, that is what we believe and what we think. However it does give us an indication of the wide diversity of Maori in the 21st Century, 173 years on from the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi when we were much less diverse and probably did share a common worldview. It does tell us as a basis for examining what we do have in common that:

  • 100% of Maori speak English;
  • 99.1% identify as Maori;
  • About 98% are Christian;
  • 50% earn less than $22,500 per annum (and 50% earn more than $22,500);
  • We are urban dwellers; and
  • Most Maori are young Maori.

Whatever our worldview or worldviews they include a deep infusion of the English language and thought as well as the Christian religion, and are heavily influenced by global culture.

This should come as no surprise as it was foreshadowed over 60 years ago by Sir Apirana Ngata in his now famous words written in the autograph book of Mrs Rangi Barcham (née Bennett), daughter of the late Sir John Mokonuiarangi Bennett.

“E tipu e rea, mo nga ra o tou ao,
ko to ringa ki nga rakau a te Pakeha hei ora mo te tinana,
ko to ngakau ki nga taonga a o tipuna Maori hei tikitiki mo to mahuna,
a ko to wairua ki to Atua, nana nei nga mea katoa”.

“Thrive in the days destined for you,
Your hand to the tools of the Pakeha, sustenance for the body,
Your heart to the treasures of your ancestors, to adorn your head,
Your soul to God to whom all things belong”.

Regardless of the degree of adoption of European and global cultural mores ethnic identity as Maori is a given, but it should not be mistaken for cultural identity. The data tells us that economic survival could well be of far greater daily concern to most Maori than cultural identity, cultural retention and revival, and cultural values, although the two are not mutually exclusive.

The worldview or worldviews of the youthful majority are those that should be more relevant to the future of Maori rather than the worldviews of Maori leaders, policy makers and elites who are the minority, invariably over 30 and mostly over 40.

Living Maori culture – some observations

  • 21.3% speak Te Reo Maori.
  • 79.7% don’t speak Te Reo Maori

It is difficult to quantify the numbers of those still living the Maori culture or the modern and evolved version of it. There are some who are steeped in the culture and live it continuously, there are some who live it regularly but not continuously, some who live it occasionally or irregularly, and many not at all. All self-identify as Maori.

Nga Ahi Kaa are the keepers of the culture, preserving and practising the tikanga and kawa at the Pa and on the marae, some more enthusiastically than others. Not all of them are speakers of Te Reo although the movement to revive Te Reo through kohanga reo, kura kaupapa and broadcasting has increased its use in areas where it had declined.

The Maori boarding schools were for generations keepers of the culture and the language. More recently Maori medium schooling has had the effect of reviving cultural practice at school at least. Some of those students also live the culture at home but some, perhaps many, live it at school but not at home. Almost all of those students also live the mainstream culture. Some culture and language is taught and practised in some mainstream schools.

The Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Maori generation has had a marked effect on Maori society with many of that generation now filling governance, management and other leadership roles in the growing Maori specific employment sector (public service, Maori business, service provision, broadcasting, school teaching and university lecturing).  Many of them are also engaged primarily in mainstream society. Maori studies courses at the universities also contribute their graduates to those who live Maori culture to some degree.

The Matatini kapahaka competition is the central (but not the only) activity that keeps the modern versions of Maori cultural performance alive and thriving. Maori artists including carvers, weavers, painters, sculptors, dancers, actors and writers are also keepers of the culture and at the same time are actively engaged in the constant evolution of their art forms. Mau rakau is thriving.

Those are some of the many ways modern Maori are engaged in aspects of Maori culture.

Nga Ahi Kaa

Most of my whanau and hapu no longer live at home. Some began moving to the cities after the Second World War looking for employment and opportunity. We started moving out in numbers in the 1960s during the economic boom when the whanau could afford to buy houses. We could not build at home because of restrictive local body by-laws. By the time we overturned those restrictions in the 1990s most people had left home anyway. We now live in the cities, in Australia, and elsewhere. The paepae on most marae at home have thinned out but the home people keep them warm. Like almost all hapu in Aotearoa we live elsewhere and travel home. But most never make it, except perhaps for tangihanga.

The Hip Hop Generation

I spent eight years 2001-2009 working in the Auckland region where most Maori live. We were working on a Maori development project. We were into Matauranga Maori, Te Reo Maori, Tikanga Maori and all that as the foundation of Maori education. But slowly it dawned on me in Auckland that the dominant culture amongst Polynesian/Maori youth was Hip Hop. That generation born and raised in that 1984-2005 period in Auckland and elsewhere was the Hip Hop generation.

Hip Hop is everything – dance, music, art and street talk. It retains the former reggae and roots base, adds in rap and break, crump, gangsta and all that. There is an underlying Polynesian expression in it but its essence is American. My father’s generation loved the songs of Paul Robeson, my generation was into rhythm and blues and rock and roll. This generation is hip hop, all of us down through the generations influenced by the music of Afrika via slavery and Amerika. The difference is that Hip Hop has become a complete sub-culture whereas we were just into the music.

It dawned on me that my generation and the next were designing policy and practice based on all the things that my generation had fought for in the 1960s to the 1980s. But it was policy designed for the next generations who had gone somewhere else. The relatively small number who had gone through kohanga and kura were relatively “pure”, culturally speaking, but the rest were somewhere else. This all happened while we had our eyes on the past. Then it dawned on me that that’s what always happens. The next generation always goes somewhere else while the previous generation slips slowly into the past.

Now my grandchildren and great-grandchildren speak three languages – English mostly because that’s how you buy your Nikes and order your McDonalds and KFCs and get on in life, Te Reo Kohanga for those who went to kohanga (most of them) but mostly when their mother or grandmother is listening, and street talk the rest of the time, based I think in Te Reo Hip Hop which is a version of English, sort of. When they message me on Facebook I understand them perfectly because they use English English or Te Reo Kohanga. When they message each other and their multitude of friends I’m lost because it’s a mixture of Street Talk and Txt Talk. As ever they’re all undeniably Maori but not the same sort of Maori as any of the Maori of my generation.

Sport and culture

Sport as we know it today plays a major role in modern Maori culture, across the socio-economic spectrum. We all grew up playing sport, and at our Pa in the days when there were still enough of us living there, we had our own very successful rugby and hockey teams and our own rugby and hockey fields. Rugby Union, Rugby League, Netball, Hockey, Softball, Tennis and Golf are all popular and have been so for generations.

It is a mostly collective competitive activity that resembles the inter-tribal rivalry of old, in both Pakeha and Maori cultures. For many Maori, like many Pakeha, sport is the central activity in their lives, whether as participants or supporters. Sport might even challenge religion as the underpinning of the worldviews of many Maori.

The interesting thing about “sport” as an important post-colonial cultural pursuit is that it was an invention of the elite British schools. “Games” have been part of most cultures for millennia but the concept of “sport” as an inter-tribal contest, often based in forms of warfare, was invented in schools such as Eton and Rugby.

Work and play and raising the kids in the suburbs

When it comes down to it most Maori, like most New Zealanders, are living in the suburbs and trying to make a decent living for themselves and their whanau, and that consumes their lives. When it comes down to it that is the age old preoccupation of all people; food, clothing and housing and hopefully some leisure time and a bit of spare money to be able to enjoy it.

Many Maori in modern New Zealand are not making it.

In the digital age it is easy to imagine that the Maori world revolves around the everyday lives, interests and concerns of our Maori whanau, friends and acquaintances on Facebook until you realise that less than 25% of us subscribe to Facebook. We are not yet defined by our online presence as much as by our everyday lives in the suburbs, most often in the poorer suburbs.

And so to culture and worldview

worldview is the fundamental belief of a person or whole society encompassing all of the individual or society’s knowledge and point-of-view. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs forming a global description through which an individual, group or culture watches and interprets the world and interacts with it. It comprises:

  • An explanation of the world.
  • A vision of the future answering the question “Where are we heading?”
  • Values, and answers to ethical questions: “What should we do?”
  • A theory and practice about “How should we do it?”
  • A theory of knowledge: “What is true and false?”
  • An account of its own “building blocks,” its origins and construction.

In pre-European times there might have been near universal agreement about those six areas of belief and therefore a common worldview across Te Ao Maori, with some regional and tribal variation. That is absolutely no longer the case. Maori are now living culturally complex and diverse lives in a totally different socio economic landscape and their worldviews are evolving dynamically in Europeanized and globalized contexts.

There is no longer a distinctive and shared Maori worldview. We have moved on.

Culture is a modern concept based on a term first used by the Roman orator Cicero: “cultura animi” (cultivation of the soul). This use of “culture” re-appeared in modern Europe in the 17th century referring to the betterment or refinement of individuals, especially through education. During the 18th and 19th century it came to refer more frequently to the common beliefs and practices of whole peoples. In the 20th century, “culture” emerged as a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of human phenomena that cannot be attributed to genetic inheritance. It has been described as an integrated system of learned behavior patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society and which are not a result of biological inheritance.

Distinctions are currently made between the physical artifacts created by a society, its so-called material culture, and everything else, the intangibles such as language, tikanga, etc. that are the main components of “culture”.

Maori culture today can be defined by having at its core Te Reo Maori and Tikanga Maori. The language itself is evolving as nearly all speakers are second language learners with English as their first language. It is adopting thought patterns, syntax and words from the English language, evolving as all languages do when in close contact with other linguistic traditions. 23.3% of Maori speak the language. 76.7% do not.

Probably the most authoritative and complete description of Tikanga Maori is in Hirini Moko Mead’s “Tikanga Maori, Living by Maori Values” (2003, Huia Publishers, Wellington). The companion text which contains teachings of the ancestors in the form of proverbs or sayings is “Nga Pepeha a nga Tipuna” (2001, Mead & Neil Grove, Victoria University Press, Wellington).

Tikanga Maori” describes “practices and values that many Maori, a growing number, see as necessary for good relations with people and with the land on which they live. These practices and values make up tikanga Maori, or that which exemplifies proper or meritorious conduct according to ancestral law”, according to Hon Justice Sir Edward Taihakurei Durie in his foreword to the book.

What percentage of Maori in 2013 “live by Maori values” or observe some Maori values in their daily lives is not known. It might be close to the nearly 25% who speak Te Reo Maori. Depending on how you define “living by Maori values” it might be a lot more. But the key point is that it is nowhere near universal. Based on Te Reo Maori and Tikanga Maori being the two cornerstones of Maori culture in the modern age it can therefore be said that Maori culture in the traditional sense and even in its modern incarnation is not universally lived and practiced by Maori people.

Prior to colonisation the cultural beliefs and practices of the many hapu would have comprised a large part of the worldview prevailing across the whole of Aotearoa, rooted deep in the evolution of the Polynesian peoples and their ancestors across thousands of years of journeying out of Africa and finally into and across the Pacific. Depending on your definitions the two, worldview and culture, would have been practically synonymous.

However the individual and collective worldviews of Maori in the 21st Century have been hugely influenced and expanded by contact with the European worldview and culture, and indeed by contact with many other immigrant cultures. Since the contact or colonisation period all New Zealanders, Maori and Pakeha, have had their worldview(s) greatly expanded by the discovery of new knowledge, by the relentless march of progress in almost every sphere of life, by travel, contact and interaction with cultures across the globe, and recently by the steady globalisation of commerce and culture. It can no longer be said that Maori culture, whether traditional or modern, represents the totality or near-totality of a Maori worldview. It can no longer be said that there is a Maori worldview.

Most Maori do not live the practices and values of tikanga Maori. Most Maori live somewhere else in the mental and cultural landscape, largely determined by their place in the socio-economic landscape, and by the degree and form of their engagement with the dominant and increasingly global culture.

Putting it bluntly, on the one hand there is a general worldview, fostered by the elites who presumably benefit in some way, in which Maori are a romantic re-tribalised society organised within the mythical whanau/hapu/iwi post-colonial construct, living the idealised concepts and values of tikanga Maori, and speaking Te Reo Maori. On the other hand there is the real world of modern Maori – mostly urban, disproportionately represented in the lower socio-economic class and in the prison population, living in poverty or near poverty in poor quality housing, suffering poor health, under-achieving educationally, beset by racism in their dealings with society and its institutions, and at the bottom of society according to most measures.

The reality of the Maori condition arises out of a culture of struggle and resistance. It is a struggle against insurmountable odds to make any headway into the mainstream of a New Zealand society of affluence and consumerism, and resistance against the seemingly oppressive forces of the state and its political economy that conspire to maintain that status quo. Over the last two or three generations some Maori have made it into an educated middle class but the Maori middle class is still a minority and it and its idealised worldview is not representative of Maori in general.

Maori don’t live in that idealised mindspace created in the academy, in the bureaucracy and in corporate iwi. Maori live in the mindspace created by mainstream society and its worldview; its religion, laws, regulations, political and economic system, schools, hospitals, workplaces, shopping malls, courts, prisons, cheap rental housing and welfare system. That’s where Maori live. Maori live within the mainstream Western worldview and it doesn’t serve them at all well. The idealised Maori worldview of the educated Maori elites doesn’t serve them at all, and never will.

The implications for Maori policy

This has deep implications for Maori policy. Or it ought to.

For the last thirty or forty years policy has been driven by the Maori elites, driven down the Maori development or Maori advancement track of language and cultural revival (including Maori medium education and Maori broadcasting), neo-tribal invention and identity, treaty settlements, business development, and primary healthcare engagement. But that is not where most Maori are. That is where the elites are. If Maori policy were to address the needs and aspirations of most Maori where they are it would tackle first and foremost the hard issues of poverty and unemployment.

My intention here is not to denigrate the beliefs and endeavours of the elites or to declare them invalid, for they are perfectly valid in their own context. But it is their context, not that of most Maori.

If Maori policy were to address the needs and aspirations of most Maori where they are it would not pander to the needs and expectations of the elites.

The elites can and do look after themselves. And they have consumed the lion’s share of Maori policy budgets for the past thirty years, not to mention the dividends from treaty settlements. The burgeoning Maori employment and career sector where they are concentrated has been built upon the capture of resources by the elites.

Meanwhile most Maori are under 25 and most Maori of all ages still live on Struggle Street.

My readers should understand that I am not saying that language and cultural retention or revival are unimportant. What I am saying is that policy aimed at language and culture should not be confused with policy aimed at overall Maori development and Maori advancement. I am also saying that policy aimed at the development of neo-tribal corporate iwi and at Maori business development should not be confused with policy aimed at overall Maori economic development.

I am saying that is not where most Maori are. That’s where the elites are.

Related Essays

Mai i Hawaiki ki Hawaiki: The Evolution of Maori Culture
The Evolution of Pakeha Culture
The Maori Worldview and Maori Policy
The Mythology of the Whanau-Hapu-Iwi Construct
The Origins of Corporate Iwi
The Maori Economy – A Fanciful Notion
The Myth of the Maori Entrepreneur
The Treaty of Waitangi Revisited
Te Ture Whenua Maori Review – Who Benefits? 
Perspectives of Time, Small Prophecy & Maori Policy
Draining the Swamp – Some Fundamentals for Maori Policy Makers
Maori Policy: Challenging the Status Quo – A Call to Reengage in the Struggle
He Tangata – Maori Policy, Economics and Moral Philosophy

The Treaty of Waitangi Revisited

The Treaty, Maori development and the Constitution


For the last 45 years the Treaty of Waitangi has been the central icon, or pou whakapono, in Maori political discourse and action. It was one of the rallying pou for political activism from the 1960s to the 1990s.

The Treaty attained political standing and limited legal standing with the passage of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 which established the Waitangi Tribunal and empowered it to investigate contemporary grievances and claims. Many Maori misunderstood the political recognition that some grievances needed to be settled via a legal or quasi-legal process for legal recognition of the Treaty itself. The Tribunal’s mandate was extended in 1985 to allow it to accept claims dating back to 1840. In that largely political and limited legal incarnation it came to underpin most Maori social and economic development initiatives, and almost all claims to settle historical grievances.

The Treaty has undergone many transformations in the way we regard it. At the moment we are having a conversation about whether it should form part of the Constitution (as entrenched supreme law). The constitutional advisory panel is considering the place of the Treaty in the New Zealand Constitution.  The questions arising in the conversation so far about the Treaty include:

  • What will happen once all historical Treaty grievances are settled?
  • Should the Treaty be entrenched?

This essay questions the prevailing mindset about the Treaty of Waitangi. E hika ma, you may not like what I have to say but stay with me and together let’s explore another viewpoint. Instead of just accepting the common view or the prevailing paradigm I think that we should from time to time take a close look at our beliefs, and the premises and assumptions underlying them. Sometimes we do confirm our beliefs, but disturbingly sometimes we realise we have just gone along with the crowd and that perhaps the crowd is wrong, or even that we are going along with the wrong crowd.

So let’s take another look at our Treaty.

A treaty is a form of contract usually between sovereign nations but in this case between a sovereign nation (Britain) on the one hand and the chiefs of many hapu on the other. In 1840 when it was signed it was a political and diplomatic document that served to legitimise the British presence in Aotearoa and purported to confer upon Maori the benefits of becoming British subjects. Some who signed it were sceptical, many were not. Many did not sign it.

There has been much contemporary speculation about the reason so many chiefs signed the Treaty and some have even stated that they didn’t really know what they were signing. Some have said that they had just a week or less to consider its implications. However I lean towards the opinion expressed by the late Wi Kuki Kaa in Te Putatara 5/90 of 21st May 1990:

“I resent the implication that the Kahui Ariki at Waitangi 1840 didnt quite know what they were about. E hika ma! They werent dumb; they were learned men, products of missionary education. They wanted, because they needed it, a document to create some form of law and order: to protect themselves from the rapaciousness of the re-settlers whose material goods had helped to improve their standard of living; but also from those of us in the Tai Rawhiti and elsewhere still smarting from the humiliations inflicted on us by Cyclone Hongi, Cyclone Pomare or Cyclone Patuone.

“The Tai Tokerau people were becoming prosperous – a situation which only thrives in a climate of peace.

“The re-settlers especially the missionaries also needed the Treaty in order to legitimise their pieces of real estate recently acquired; by hook, crook, or holy book. Nobody is going to convince me that the aims of the Confederation (Kotahitanga) were forgotten from 1835 until 1840. Ko te kai a te rangatira, he korero. So you need less than half a wit to realise that the arguments went on at hui for years, culminating in that fateful day in February 1840”.

Despite contemporary debate over its exact meaning, whether in English or Maori, it was basically a political power sharing agreement between the British and quite a few but not all chiefs of hapu. The powers to be shared and how they were to be shared were probably deliberately left open to interpretation. Formal agreements between nations with different worldviews are difficult to formalise in detail, and are often vague and open to interpretation, indicating intention to engage rather than detailed agreement.

As with the many modern diplomatic and political agreements between protagonists in the Middle East the devil is in the detail and they always unravel over the details or when political circumstances change.

Much contemporary scholarship and debate has been over the exact meaning of the Treaty rather than its original political intent. Contemporary scholarship and debate has often attempted to infer exact application to a great many contemporary issues. Therefore in contemporary times there have been hundreds of different interpretations of the intent of the document, depending on the political or economic aims of the interpreter. For a time it seemed that every Maori or Maori organisation with a grievance about anything and everything called upon the Treaty to impose obligations on the government of the day and to legitimise preferred solutions to their grievances.

The Treaty debate and process has certainly served the political aims of Maori, or some Maori, for the time being anyway, but it hasn’t greatly influenced the social and economic well being of most Maori and it doesn’t tell us much about it’s future.

Political agreements, both formal and informal, remain in force only until they no longer serve the purposes of one of the partners to the agreement. They do not stand for all time. They are agreements of convenience at the time they are negotiated.

And that is exactly the history of the Treaty of Waitangi. It is arguable that the Treaty might not have served the purposes of all Maori from the very beginning even though it was signed by and served the purposes of many chiefs, the northern chiefs in the first instance. However as soon as it no longer served the purposes of the British, after they had mustered sufficient population and military power to govern in their own right without the consent of the chiefs, the Treaty was consigned to the back of the cupboard where it became urine stained and chewed by rats.

And there it stayed for many decades.

From time to time Maori attempted to resurrect the Treaty mostly in relation to disputes over the alienation of land. The Government, now ruling in its own right without meaningful Maori participation, ignored them. The courts declared the Treaty to be no longer valid or no longer living. If the exercise of power on behalf of its primary constituency is what government is, then that was probably a legitimate political stance. It may not have been morally defensible from the Maori point of view but political reality often abjures the moral when it is inconvenient. That’s not just a Pakeha trait. It would have been equally true of inter-hapu political life in traditional Maori society. We too held to our agreements only so long as they served our own purposes.

So in the interim while the Treaty kept company with the rats in the cupboard Maori did indeed keep it alive but it was a one-sided treaty by then and one-sided treaties have no force either in law or in political engagement.

The balance can only be resurrected or restored through the weight of numbers or through political or military action. That did not happen until 1975 when the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 was made law, sponsored by Matiu Rata after over a decade of political activism, demonstration and networking had gained for Maori sufficient political support and moral suasion to resurrect the Treaty in limited form. Even so that was a political resurrection with very limited legal force.

The present constitutional conversation is about whether or not it should acquire legal force.

Our need to resurrect the Treaty is driven by our relative lack of political power more than anything else. If we had the political power we wouldn’t need the Treaty. Nor would we need to talk about the Treaty in a constitutional conversation.

However during that period around 1975 and in the two decades following the passage of that Act, the Treaty was transformed in the rhetoric of activist Maori from a fraud under the mantra “The Treaty is a Fraud” to the status of kawenata tapu, a sacred living covenant under the mantra “Honour the Treaty”.

As a result of that burst of political activity the “principles” of the Treaty have found their way into legislation and into a great many of the affairs of the nation. Treaty activism has been the foundation for hundreds of millions of dollars of grievance settlements and in that sense the Treaty continues to financially speak.

Many lists of Treaty principles have been devised by the Waitangi Tribunal and in the courts. In 1989 Labour government became the first New Zealand government to set out principles to guide its actions on matters relating to the treaty.

Those principles were:

  • the government has the right to govern and make laws
  • iwi have the right to organise as iwi, and, under the law, to control their resources as their own
  • all New Zealanders are equal before the law
  • both the government and iwi are obliged to accord each other reasonable cooperation on major issues of common concern
  • the government is responsible for providing effective processes for the resolution of grievances in the expectation that reconciliation can occur.

The principles found their way into some legislation and guided government action, or inaction, in relation to the Treaty itself. However they are a rather weak statement of democratic principles that are found with much more clarity and force in the NZ Bill of Rights which itself has not yet been entrenched as supreme constitutional law.

The Waitangi Tribunal has formulated another set of principles including:

  • the principle of partnership;
  • the principle of active protection (of Maori interests);
  • the principle of redress for historical wrongs.

Within those principles the Tribunal has described a number of duties the Crown should observe. The acceptance of the Tribunal’s principles and duties is however a matter of political agreement at any given time by the incumbent government. To date governments have mostly accepted them and have been actively engaged in reaching settlement agreements. That process however will surely come to an end.

This year a government appointed constitutional advisory panel is consulting with the public on the place of the Treaty of Waitangi in the constitutional arrangements of New Zealand. That conversation has been sponsored by the Maori Party through its political support of the National Party in government; an exercise in political influence.

Was it the Treaty itself that brought us to this state of political balance, or was it the exercise of political influence that did it. Could not the same balance have been achieved through the common law and international law with the same exercise of political influernce by Maori. It’s a moot point but not really relevant given that the Treaty was the pou whakapono which gave focus to the political struggle. It serves our political purpose to raise the Treaty to the status of kawenata tapu.

But is that its true intrinsic value. Is it not just a convenient pou whakapono, albeit a very useful pou whakapono.

Consider this. If Maori had retained superior population numbers from 1840 until the present day and if today we were now 75% of the population or even just 51% of the population how would we now view the Treaty of Waitangi. Would we not have consigned it to the back of the pataka, hei kai mo nga kiore, and left it there even if our treaty partner agitated for its resurrection, a one sided treaty. Of course we would have. We would have totally ignored the Treaty. That’s politics and in politics the losers lose. But we were the losers so for us the Treaty lives.

So it’s not intrinsically tapu or intrinsically constitutional. Its value and status depends entirely on both partners acting in agreement. It will never be accorded the status of a constitutional founding document unless and until both partners reach political consensus. The Treaty is such a sensitive public issue anyway that consensus will require a referendum before any legislation, and to entrench it as constitutional law will require 75% of the Parliament to consent.

It is now as it was in 1840, a convenient political document, but this time convenient for the Maori partner. And only time will tell how long it remains so. I don’t see it making its way into the constitution any time soon.

Constitutionally I would prefer that the Bill of Rights be entrenched as Supreme Law rather than the Treaty of Waitangi. It would powerfully serve to curb the excesses of government and to preserve democracy for all.

Notwithstanding my view of the future of the Treaty it will be with us for some time yet. Many political, bureaucratic, academic, legal and corporate iwi careers have been built upon the Treaty of Waitangi over the last 25 years. The elites have a vested interest in maintaining the very useful fiction of the Treaty as the forever speaking founding document of the nation, and even as kawenata tapu.

Meanwhile the social and economic well being of most Maori remains unaffected and untouched by the Treaty of Waitangi in either its original or contemporary interpretation.

E hika ma, that wasn’t too bad was it? Have you changed your mind about the Treaty?


Previous constitutional essays:
Does a constitution protect and promote democracy
Let’s talk democracy
Abolish the Pakeha seats

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The Hukarere Story 1991 – 1995

The struggle against insurmountable odds to reopen a Maori girls’ school.

“If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” – Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey (1872-1927), preeminent Ghanaian scholar, educator and missionary.

Hukarere in Napier has been known by a few names. When she was started in 1875 she was the Hukarere Native School for Girls, then became Hukarere Girls’ School. After 1969 she became Hukarere Hostel. During the time of this story we knew her simply as Hukarere; we thought that quite elegant. Now in her new phase she is known as Hukarere Girls’ College.

Hukarere’s struggle for survival has for decades been a struggle against male dominance. In 1969 her school was closed to ensure the survival of Te Aute College. Again in 1991 her hostel was closed to ensure the survival of Te Aute College. In both cases it was Te Aute that was in financial crisis and losing money, not Hukarere. However Hukarere triumphed against the odds and in 1993 she was reopened and rededicated as a full school with a boarding option.

The Reopening & Rededication of a School 1993 – 1995

This is a personal memoir of the struggle to reopen and rededicate Hukarere in the closing decade of the 20th Century, nearly 120 years after she was first opened in 1875. It is the inside story that has not been publicly told until now.

I am telling it firstly to place on public record the history of that struggle. Secondly, as with all or most successful community projects there have been many who have claimed the credit and even the main credit for its success. Some were only marginally involved and some not at all. The human mind is so wonderfully adept at constructing narratives of self praise, not entirely based in the facts.

It is also to pay tribute to two Hukarere Old Girls who led the struggle, who recruited me to the cause and who insisted that I join them as a co-conspirator in their quest; Awhina Waaka and Alyson Bullock.

This narrative is a tribute too to the many others who were involved in the struggle, Old Girls, whanau, friends and supporters too numerous to name but they and we know who they were. And to the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust, and to Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa led by the late Rt Rev Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe and Rt Rev Bishop Paraone Turei, without whose moral and financial support Hukarere would have remained closed.

For the many who were immersed in the project in those difficult years the Hukarere struggle defined us. It was all consuming. From it I think we all learned something about ourselves and about the power of vision, faith and commitment.

I have not been involved with Hukarere since about 2000. She survives still although her owners on Te Aute Trust Board placed an intolerable burden upon her a few years ago by offering her property to the bank as security for a very bad investment. I understand that burden remains.

The late Hon Parekura Horomia MP was involved at the time of his death in her latest project to re-erect her beautiful chapel at the new Esk Valley school site. It was first built at the Napier Hill site under the aegis of Sir Apirana Ngata and was one of his last projects. During the struggle to reopen Hukarere the chapel was a quiet welcoming refuge and in many ways was both the physical and spiritual locus of the struggle. The girls of course were always the main focus of our efforts.

What follows was written in 2009.

This Hukarere narrative is based on the records and recollections of the writer alone. A complete picture would require input from Mrs Awhina Waaka and Mrs Alyson Bullock, both of Napier. They may yet write their own memoirs. Both attended Hukarere themselves and were the prime movers in re-opening Hukarere after she was completely closed in 1991.

Te Aute Trust Board Group

To explain the relationships, the Anglican Church’s Te Aute Trust Board owns both Te Aute College at Pukehou and Hukarere Girls’ College at Napier. From about 1995 onwards both Te Aute and Hukarere were members of Te Runanga O Paerangi, a Maori boarding schools collective supported by Ministry of Education.

During the period of this narrative the writer was:

  •  a member of Te Aute Trust Board of the Anglican Church from 1991 to 2000,
  • a member of the Te Aute College Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2000,
  • Chairman of Te Whanau O Hukarere Inc from 1992 to 2000,
  • a member of the Hukarere School Board of Trustees from 1995 to 2000,
  • Chairman of The Hukarere Foundation (a charitable trust) from 1992 to 2000, and
  • Chairman of Te Runanga O Paerangi (Maori Boarding Schools Collective) from 1996 to 2000.

As well as participating in the reopening and rededication of Hukarere, the writer also led a small team that rescued Te Aute College from financial insolvency during the same period from 1991 to 1994.

Types of School

Throughout this narrative the terms private school and integrated school are used. Some explanation is necessary in order to understand the Hukarere reopening process.

A state school is totally owned and funded by the Ministry of Education.

A private school is completely owned and operated by its owner/proprietor. The Ministry of Education pays a grant towards the operation of the school, equal at the time of this story to about 25% of the operating grant paid to a state school. A private school requires approval from Ministry of Education to operate. A private school is generally able to set its own curriculum, within the constraints of the 25% funding agreement with government which requires adherence to the core state curriculum. Its governance and management arrangements are its own business.

An integrated school is owned by its proprietors, in this case the Anglican Church through its Te Aute Trust Board. The Board is responsible for owning and operating the hostels. It also owns the school buildings and is responsible for their upkeep and replacement if necessary. The Ministry of Education pays for and operates the school.

Short History of Hukarere

Both Hukarere Girls’ College and Te Aute College are integrated schools owned by Te Aute Trust Board. Te Aute College was founded in 1851, and Hukarere Native School for Girls in 1875.

In 1969 Hukarere was a private school and was closed ostensibly due to financial difficulties. In fact Hukarere was not losing money but Te Aute College was, and the suspicion among the Hukarere Old Girls is that Hukarere was closed in order to save Te Aute. This closure happened before the Government intervened to integrate and save many private schools from closure. Hukarere continued to function as a hostel, and the girls attended Napier Girls High School for 23 years.

In December 1991 Te Aute Trust Board resolved to close the Hukarere Hostel as well, ostensibly because it was losing money. The suspicion among Hukarere Old Girls was that again it was closed in order to save Te Aute. This seemed to be confirmed by the decision of Te Aute Trust Board and Te Aute College Board of Trustees to make Te Aute a co-educational boarding school, and to transfer girls from the Hukarere Hostel to Te Aute College. In fact Te Aute College was suffering financial difficulties at the time.

The writer was present in December 1991 at Hukarere when the staff, hostel committee, boarders and their whanau were told of the decision to close.

Just over a year later Hukarere was reopened then rededicated on Waitangi Day 1993 as a private school and hostel. It was the first time the school itself had operated since it was closed in 1969 over 23 years earlier. It was then owned and operated as a private school from February 1993 to April 1995 by the Hukarere Foundation (not by Te Aute Trust Board). During the two years and four months that Hukarere was a private school the buildings and grounds on Napier Hill were leased from Te Aute Trust Board by the Hukarere Foundation.

It became an integrated school, with the school’s operations and salaries funded by government, in April 1995. On integration the school and hostel were returned to ownership of Te Aute Trust Board.

Organising to Save Hukarere — 1991/1992

On the day Hukarere Hostel was closed in December 1991 the writer was approached by Mrs Alyson Bullock to join with the Old Girls to try to reopen Hukarere. Alyson was also a member of Te Aute Trust Board, and a member of the Hukarere Hostel Committee, and she had two girls boarding at Hukarere.

I had a personal reason for joining them other than being appalled by the decision to close. My godson’s late mother, Kuini Ellison (nee Smith), who had been one of my early mentors, had been a Hukarere pupil, a member of Te Aute Trust Board and matron of Hukarere Hostel. She was for most of her life a staunch advocate for Hukarere. On the day Hukarere School was closed in 1969 she sat on the steps at Hukarere and wept. The godson told me that his mother would come back to haunt me if I didn’t reopen her school. I reckoned he was right.

As Bishop Brown Turei, Alyson Bullock and myself were all members of the Trust Board we petitioned the Board to allow twelve girls to remain at the hostel under private arrangements so that they could complete their schooling at Napier Girls High School. The request was granted.

The support group called Te Whanau O Hukarere then named those girls Nga Ahi Kaa, to recognize that it was important to keep a full-time presence at Hukarere while it organized to reopen. Throughout 1992 staff and supporters ran the hostel on a voluntary basis, and the girls’ whanau paid fees to cover the reduced running costs. However a number of the other Hukarere girls transferred to Te Aute College at the beginning of 1992.

Te Whanau O Hukarere

Te Whanau O Hukarere comprising Old Girls, boarders and their whanau, supporters and friends, then conducted a series of hui at Napier to garner support for an effort to reopen both school and hostel. In about August/September 1992 a formal resolution was passed to reopen Hukarere School and Hostel. The resolution was supported by the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust, all descendants of the two Bishops Williams.

A formal resolution appointed two Old Girls, Awhina Waaka and Alyson Bullock, and myself (Ross Himona), with the full executive authority of Te Whanau O Hukarere to reopen Hukarere by whatever means possible. That resolution was signed on behalf of Te Whanau O Hukarere by Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe (Bishop of Aotearoa), Bishop Brown Turei (Bishop of Te Tai Rawhiti) and Bishop Murray Mills (Bishop of Waiapu).

Late in 1992 I registered Te Whanau O Hukarere Inc as an incorporated society. I was appointed Chairman and held the appointment until 2000.

Hukarere Foundation

Late in 1992 also the Hukarere Foundation was registered as a charitable trust to facilitate fundraising and to gain tax free status for the intended school and hostel. Three trustees were appointed; Awhina Waaka, Alyson Bullock and myself. I was appointed Chair of the Foundation (by the two women).

Negotiating with Te Aute Trust Board and Te Aute College – 1992

From September to December 1992 we three negotiated with Te Aute Trust Board and Te Aute College to allow Hukarere to reopen as an outpost of Te Aute College in February 1993.

We also conferred regularly with a very supportive Ministry of Education, through its Lower Hutt regional office. The Ministry was able to advise on the various options for reopening Hukarere. One option they presented was to open as a private school with a hostel, and then to negotiate with the Ministry and with Te Aute Trust Board to convert to an integrated school.

At a meeting at Te Aute College in early December 1992 both Te Aute Trust Board and Te Aute College emphatically rejected the request to operate as an outpost of Te Aute College.

We had anticipated rejection and I immediately proposed to the Trust Board that Hukarere Foundation lease the Hukarere grounds and buildings with a view to opening a private school. The lease offer of $1.00 per annum was accepted by Te Aute Trust Board on the recommendation of the Board’s Secretary/Treasurer on the basis that it was costing the Board $50,000 pa in holding costs and that a lease for $1 would save the Board $49,999 pa. The $1 coin was rolled across the boardroom table.

At that point most of the trustees of Te Aute Trust Board probably did not believe that the Hukarere Foundation would be successful.

Application to Reopen Hukarere as a Private School

However at about midday on Christmas Eve 1992 I delivered a fully prepared application to operate a private school to the Lower Hutt regional office of Ministry of Education. It included a full curriculum plan prepared by Awhina.

The regional manager had agreed to wait in his office for the application to be delivered, and also undertook to process the application as quickly as possible. Approval of the application required the agreement of the Minister.

Reopening Hukarere as a Private School — 1993 to 1995

A few weeks later in mid to late January 1993 the Ministry of Education issued a formal approval to operate Hukarere as a private school with attached hostel. The notification was received at Hukarere a few days later. The approval contained a requirement to complete certain building works in order to comply with Ministry regulations.

The approval named Awhina Waaka, Alyson Bullock and Ross Himona as owners, operators and managers of Hukarere School. We three actually owned Hukarere for just over two years.

We set the opening date for Monday 1st February 1993, just ten days after receiving approval, and the official opening ceremony and celebration was to be held five days later on Waitangi Day 6th February 1993.

The approval had been anticipated and arrangements for the classroom block to be refurbished to minimal Ministry of Education requirements and brought up to minimal OSH standard had been made. After consultation with Bishop Vercoe, who agreed to fund the $96,000 needed for the work, the refurbishment began immediately approval was received from Ministry of Education. It was completed shortly before the opening ceremony and celebration.

Within Hukarere Foundation the three trustees agreed that Awhina Waaka would be Curriculum Director, Alyson Bullock would be Hostel Director, and Ross Himona would be Finance & Business Director. Alyson Bullock took annual leave to act as Hostel Matron until a permanent matron could be appointed. The outgoing hostel matron agreed to stay on for a short period to help. Hukarere could not afford to appoint a principal and Awhina Waaka fulfilled that role for over two years, in addition to her job at the Education Review Office.

We agreed that all decisions would be taken unanimously by the three directors when all were present, but that as all three of us had full-time jobs and it would not be possible for all three to be present most of the time, whoever was on-site would make all necessary decisions across all areas, The other two would unconditionally support whatever decisions were made in their absence. Consequently all three of us acted as Curriculum Director (Principal), Hostel Director (Matron) and Finance & Business Director from time to time. Contrary to what a few thought we were not paid either then or later.

Four teachers, one hostel supervisor and a cook were hired, and given just ten days to prepare both school and hostel to open.

The Opening

Hukarere was reopened as a private school and hostel as scheduled on 1st February 1993 and rededicated on Waitangi Day 1993. At the insistence of the two Old Girls on the team the keynote speech at the rededication was delivered by the writer and is attached. The school opened with a small number of pupils, many of whom had been members of Nga Ahi Kaa who remained at Hukarere throughout 1992.

Funding a Private School

On opening day Hukarere Foundation had a negative balance in its accounts.

Church Funding and Support

After the opening ceremony the writer was called to Bishop Turei’s office to meet with Bishop Vercoe. He asked how much the Foundation was in debt and on being told the opening debt was about $36,000 he handed over a signed blank cheque to cover the deficit. That was on top of the $96,000 Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa had paid to refurbish the classroom block.

At a later date Te Kahui Wahine O Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa (through Mrs Doris Vercoe and Mrs Mihi Turei) provided a loan of $50,000. It was later repaid.

The St John’s College Trust bursaries were paid to Hukarere. They were initially worth a total of $50,000 pa reducing later to $30,000 pa.

Te Pihopatanga O Te Tai Rawhiti and Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa worked closely with Hukarere Foundation. Ministry was of course provided by Bishop Turei, Archdeacon Joe Akuhata-Brown and local minita-a-iwi. Bishop Turei’s whanau was also intimately involved and they gave unstintingly of their time and expertise.

Boarding fees were charged for the pupils but the balance of the costs of the hostel, and most of the costs of the school were covered by fundraising until the school was integrated in April 1995, a period of two years and four months.

Koha — Cash and Kind

For the whole of that period Hukarere was funded mostly by koha of cash and kind. The Foundation’s bankers were sympathetic and allowed a generous if not large overdraft.

Much of the curricular and non-curricular activity was provided by volunteers. Some local teachers taught classes in their spare time, and members of Te Whanau O Hukarere relieved in the hostel when required. Community volunteers (including the NZ Police Youth Aid officer) ran various extra-curricular programs including sport. Medical and nursing coverage was provided free of charge.

The Maori Wardens were provided with a patrol base at Hukarere, and they patrolled the dormitories and grounds from time to time every night to ensure that the girls stayed in and the boys stayed out. The Wardens also came to know all of the girls and were able to pick up those who broke out of dorm and were seen at parties and other places.

Te Taiwhenua O Te Whanganui-A-Orutu, the local branch of Te Runanganui O Ngati Kahungunu rallied behind the cause and provided much voluntary assistance.

Many businesses also provided assistance. Tradesmen reduced their charges, Carter Holt provided building materials at cost, Levenes provided paint below cost, and all suppliers were generous in approving credit facilities over an extended period. A nearby gymnasium agreed to provide their facilities at a charge of just $1 per girl per visit. A local supplier of electronic office equipment sourced good quality second hand equiipment for us and installed it at cost.

Service groups such as Rotary and Lions took on projects to help Hukarere. The Presbyterian Ladies Auxiliary ran cake stalls to raise funds.

Napier City Council provided free library facilities in a special section within the Napier Public Library, including buying books specifically for use by Hukarere. The Council also provided free access to all of its sporting facilities.

The marine scientists at the National Aquarium on the Napier Foreshore provided part of the science curriculum and involved the girls in their onshore and offshore projects with dolphins and seals. Massey University donated a quantity of laboratory equipment for the science programme. Various schools donated books and other classroom resources.

Food for the hostel was provided at reduced rates by local suppliers and from a number of other sources.

Moteo Marae collected all of the scraps from the Hukarere kitchen for their pigs. In return they raised pigs for Hukarere. Local orchardists and market gardeners provided good quality seconds free of charge. A local fishing company occasionally donated kaimoana. Whanau also contributed whenever they could. The writer would sometimes return from visits to Waikaremoana with a boot full of donated trout and venison.

Many others not mentioned above provided cash and kind.

Major Funders

Throughout the whole period the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust were very supportive providing grants as they were able, and helping the Hukarere Foundation to cover some major expenditure at critical times. The reopening of Hukarere would not have been possible without them.

After the Trust Board and Ministry of Education decided in March 1995 to integrate Hukarere, the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust and other members of the Williams whanau took me aside. They told me that they had not been funding Hukarere, or a project, or Maori gilrs’ education; but that they had been funding the vision, faith and commitment of three people. We three were of course supported by a large number of other volunteers who subscribed totally to the vision, faith and commitment that drove the project.

Other Funds

At financially crucial times two residential sections owned by Hukarere were sold, against our better instincts, but without those sales survival was not assured. One sale was necessary to pay $90,000 for the removal of asbestos from the Hukarere buildings. Without that Hukarere would have been closed before integration could be achieved.

As a private school Hukarere received operating funding from Ministry of Education equivalent to 25% of the operating grant to state and integrated schools.

Funding Priorities

Throughout the whole of the period as a private school the main financial priority was to provide food for the girls and salaries for the paid staff. Every cent of expenditure was rigidly scrutinised before being approved.

Consequently there was very little money available for classroom resources, including class sets of books. The teachers were required to develop innovative strategies to compensate, and they coped magnificently. Notwithstanding the financial constraints Hukarere did manage to slowly acquire a range of resources for the classrooms.

The Foundation missed paying salaries only once, and then only for about five days until funds were raised. On one other occasion there was no money in the accounts on the eve of a payday but the necessary $12,000 was raised overnight.

As is normal in boarding schools the girls complained often about not having enough food but they were weighed periodically as part of the medical service to Hukarere. None lost weight and most put on weight.

The Hukarere Business Manager

Late in 1992 Hukarere Foundation hired Mr. Des Lanigan, a staunch Presbyterian and a retired banker, as business manager. He served in that capacity through the private school period and for a few more years after integration.

His was an enormous contribution in closely managing the Hukarere finances, building and maintaining an excellent relationship with Hukarere’s bankers and with the Napier business community, and personally overseeing a great deal of the fundraising.

 A Dilemma — Insolvency

By August 1994 Hukarere Foundation was technically insolvent and owed about $250,000. We three trustees were under considerable stress and in danger of losing a large part of our collective private assets, mainly homes.

Awhina Waaka left for a short holiday in Australia and told Alyson and myself that she would support whatever decisions we made. We met at Hukarere to decide what to do. After studying the financial situation in detail we concluded that whilst there was a large deficit on one side of the ledger, there was still faith & hope & prayer on the other.

We decided to continue whatever the consequences. Remarkably the debt was cleared within six months.

The Total Cost

The total cost of opening and operating Hukarere until it was integrated has never been calculated. The full cost would take into account the funds raised, the value of koha in cash and kind, and the voluntary performance of many duties that would normally be paid as part of the operating costs of a school and hostel.

The actual cost would amount to several million dollars.

And even though that was enough to reopen Hukarere as a private school, and later to see her integrated, the real capital costs of opening a school whose buildings and teaching facilities fully complied with Ministry of Education standards were only deferred.

Academic Performance as a Private School

The school roll gradually increased over the first two years as a private school to about 50 pupils. In both of those years Hukarere was inspected by the Education Review Office (ERO) and received excellent reports, although the curriculum was quite limited. ERO also commented favourably on the organization of Hukarere into four whanau, in which managers, teachers, non-teaching staff, parents and whanau participated with the pupils. Each whanau was led by elected pupil leaders. It was not just a whanau concept but a total school concept.

Integration – 1995

The goal was always to integrate Hukarere so that the full operating costs and salaries of the school (but not the hostel) would be met by the Ministry of Education. To do that the Te Aute Trust Board had to agree and the Minister of Education had to approve integration.

The mainly male Trust Board was initially not willing to take on the role of Proprietor of another school other than Te Aute College. The trustees would have to be convinced but in the meantime Hukarere Foundation opened negotiations with the Ministry.

Hukarere hired a firm of educational consultants who had all been involved in writing the Integration Act and regulations when they were members of the former Department of Education. The owner of the firm had been a Deputy Secretary in the Department, responsible for the writing and implementation of the Integration Act. With their expert help and with a lot of goodwill from the Ministry an agreement was negotiated. Some innovative solutions to some thorny obstacles were found and agreed.

In reality Hukarere did not meet the full requirements to warrant integration, specifically building standards, and the Ministry (and Minister) bent over backwards to grant the application.

The main and potentially devastating requirement of the agreement was that Te Aute Trust Board (or Hukarere Foundation in lieu) would have to raise considerable capital to upgrade the classroom block within two years of integration. At that point in 1995 the capital was not available, and was never to become available, leading to negotiations with Ministry of Education for a number of years to extend the period beyond the required two years.

However Te Whanau O Hukarere and Hukarere Foundation decided to proceed and called a Hui-A-Iwi at Kohupatiki Marae in about March 1995 to discuss integration. All members of Te Aute Trust Board attended, as did the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust, five bishops, Professor Whatarangi Winiata, staff and students and their whanau, local iwi, and many other members of the broad grouping Te Whanau O Hukarere.

The case for integration was put and strongly supported by the hui, but the majority of Te Aute Trust Board members were still opposed. The members in favour were of course Bishop Turei, Alyson Bullock and myself.

Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe, Bishop Brown Turei, Bishop Murray Mills, Bishop Muru Walters, Bishop John Gray and Professor Whatarangi Winiata then deliberated and strongly advised the trustees of Te Aute Trust Board (who alone were empowered to decide) to proceed with integration. The Trust Board accepted their advice and agreed.

The integration agreement was signed in the Hukarere Chapel about a month later in April 1995. Ownership of the school passed from Awhina, Alyson and Ross back to Te Aute Trust Board.

Early Days of an Integrated School

Upon integration Hukarere Foundation was replaced by an appointed and elected Board of Trustees. The three trustees of Hukarere Foundation, and former owners of Hukarere as a private school, were appointed to the Board of Trustees as representatives of the Proprietor, Te Aute Trust Board.

However, as the Foundation trustees had been acting in a voluntary capacity for three years they decided to take some time out, and to step back from the day to day oversight of the school. Alyson Bullock continued in her role with the hostel for a time. To allow them to step back a paid school principal would have to be appointed.

Mrs. Kuni Jenkins then volunteered to take leave from AucklandUniversity and to act as principal until a permanent principal could be appointed. As the Ministry of Education was paying a full operating grant, and school salaries, Hukarere was able to pay Mrs Jenkins to take that role. She acted as principal for about six months until a permanent principal, Mr Kere Mihaere, was appointed.

The financial situation stabilized after integration but the Hukarere Foundation continued to play a role in raising funds, particularly for the hostel which suffered some financial difficulty for a few months. With the eventual appointment of a permanent principal later in 1995 the school and hostel settled down and set a path to expand and develop.

I continued on the Board of Trustees until 2000. Awhina Waaka and Alyson Bullock remained closely involved.

Looking Back

It has been my experience that there will always be opposition to community projects and the more ambitious and more worthy the project the greater the opposition. The reopening of Hukarere was a project undertaken against the odds and against the entrenched opposition of a majority of her owners, the board members of Te Aute Trust Board.

The Trust Board was intent on closing Hukarere in order to save Te Aute by transferring the girls to Te Aute, thereby increasing the roll. Many on the Te Aute College campus were also antagonistic as they thought that the survival of Te Aute depended on its becoming co-educational and to achieve that they too needed Hukarere to be closed. They were wrong, for the survival of Te Aute depended on much improved school and hostel management, on improved school and classroom leadership, on improved teaching and learning, on changing an outdated model and mindset to suit modern circumstances, and on ridding the school of bullying and intimidation in the hostel.

One of the major obstacles was the lack of funding and on the day Hukarere was reopened and rededicated on 6th February 1993 she was already $36,000 in debt. She survived on prayer, koha and hard work for the two years and four months of the establishment phase.

The seemingly insurmountable odds and the opposition were overcome through a shared vision, shared faith and shared commitment across the whole of the Hukarere community represented by Te Whanau O Hukarere Inc. That vision was also shared by three bishops, by major funders, by key personnel in the Ministry of Education, and by the descendants of the Williams churchmen and women who had founded Hukarere and Te Aute in the 19th century. The vision seemed to be infectious and as the project gained momentum the City of Napier got behind it and help was always there for the asking. The local Taiwhenua tribal organisation also committed itself to the vision.

Such was the power of a shared vision, shared faith and shared commitment.


On 27th April 2003 Hukarere moved to a new site in the Esk Valley just north of Napier. The site on Napier Hill was sold and some of the proceeds used to buy the new site. This was necessary to overcome or avoid the problem of substandard buildings at the original Hukerere site, and the lack of capital needed to upgrade them to Ministry of Education standards under the Integration Agreement.

At her new site the roll rose to over 100 pupils and in 2013 is about 80.

As this is published in 2013, more than twenty years after the revival of Hukarere, she survives and flourishes.


The Speech is included as a record of the occasion




Apologies & Messages from former Principals.

  • Ruth Flashoff
  • Lucy Hogg
  • Isla Hunter

Apologies from Others

  • Principal of Napier GHS,
  • Mrs Te Whetumarama Tirikatene-Sullivan MP for Southern Maori,
  • Mr Geoff Braybrooke, MP for Napier,
  • Mr Michael Laws MP for HawkesBay,
  • Rt Rev Murray Mills, Bishop of Waiapu,
  • Mr Alan Dick, Mayor of Napier,
  • Mr Bill Richardson, Ministry of Education, Wellington,
  • Mr Ted Ercolano, Ministry of Education, Napier

Treaty of Waitangi

On this day in 1990 at Waitangi, the Rt Rev Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, spoke of how we Maori have been “marginalised” in our own land, despite the Treaty of Waitangi. Queen Elizabeth, the descendant of Queen Victoria, in whose name the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, spoke too of the Treaty of Waitangi and of how it had been “imperfectly observed”.

Marginalised and imperfectly observed.

History of Hukarere

There are parallels between the history of the Treaty of Waitangi and the history of Hukarere. It would seem to many observers that the vision of the founders of Hukarere has also been imperfectly observed by their heirs and successors. Throughout its history Hukarere has been subjected to the ravages of both fire and earthquake, and has recovered from both. But for the last thirty or so years Hukarere has led a precarious existence due to the ravages of financial uncertainty, leading to its closure as a school in 1969, and to its closure as a hostel in 1991.There are many who were certain that Hukarere would or should die.

I know that a great many Hukarere Old Girls also feel deeply that, like the Treaty, the education of young Maori women has been marginalised in favour of young Maori men. Let us pray on this auspicious day and in this celebratory year, that the doubts about the viability of Hukarere, and that the fears of the Old Girls that Hukarere would be lost, are finally laid to rest. For this is the International Year of Indigenous Peoples, and this is the year in which we celebrate the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in Aotearoa/New Zealand; and on this Waitangi Day in 1993 we reopen and re-dedicate Hukarere as a full school and boarding establishment.

That this has come about is due almost entirely to a dream nurtured and borne forward in the hearts of Hukarere Old Girls for the last 23 years, and in their hearts those Old Girls never once gave up hope. I would like to pay tribute to them all, and to those many Old Girls who for 22 of those 23 years kept Hukarere alive as a boarding hostel for young Maori women, although they attended NapierGirlsHigh School.

In particular I pay tribute to a small group we know affectionately as Ngaa Ahi Kaa; those who kept the fires burning and who kept Hukarere warm during its year in complete recess in 1992. [The first and only year that Hukarere has not existed either as school or a hostel]. Mrs Irihapeti Te Moana (Betty) Prangnell and twelve of her charges stayed at Hukarere on a private basis during 1992 and it is due to them that Hukarere did not grow cold in that dark year. Most of Ngaa Ahi Kaa are still here with us today. Tena koutou wahine ma, kotiro ma. Nga mihi nui ki a koutou katoa, ka nui te aroha ki a koutou.

Betty Prangnell who has been Matron since 1982 has decided that Hukarere is now in good hands, and that she would like to retire and return to her whanau in Christchurch. After all, she just came up here for a holiday in 1982, and was made Matron before she could escape back to Christchurch.

Betty, from all of us of Te Whanau O Hukarere, students, parents, staff, Old Girls and Friends; thank you for your devoted service to Hukarere. We wish you every happiness in your retirement. Kia ora koe, Irihapeti, ma te Atua koe e manaaki, e tiaki.

I pay tribute and give thanks to the Bishops who gave their unstinting support to get Hukarere reopened. The Rt Rev Te Whakahuihui Vercoe, Bishop of Aotearoa, The Rt Rev Paraone Turei Bishop of Tai Rawhiti/Aotearoa and The Rt Rev Murray Mills Bishop of Waiapu. Kia ora koutou. Special thanks are due to Archdeacon Joe Akuhata-Brown who is also Chaplain to Hukarere.

I would like to thank all of my fellow members of Te Whanau O Hukarere who grasped an opportunity, and with faith and determination, brought about this reopening and rededication. In particular our Patron of Te Whanau O Hukarere, Aunty Ruruhira Robin, for her faith in us and in the righteousness of our cause. Kia ora koe, e kui. We thank also the Napier City Council for its support, and His Worship the Mayor, Mr Alan Dick, who has agreed to become Patron of Hukarere.

We should not forget the Trustees of Te Aute Trust Board whose members have leased Hukarere to Te Whanau O Hukarere.

And those at the Ministry of Education who took less than a month over the Christmas and New Year period to process our application and to grant us provisional registration as a Private School. We thank you sincerely and we look forward to a long and close relationship with the Ministry. We look forward also to being granted integrated status and full funding in due course, but not too far away, we hope.

And we give thanks to God whose plan it was and whose oversight guided our every effort to bring about this reopening.

Hukarere Guarantee

On this day in 1840 a Treaty was signed which gave a pledge or guarantee to the Chiefs and Tribes of Aotearoa/New Zealand. On this day in 1993 we of Te Whanau O Hukarere give this pledge known as the Hukarere Guarantee

  • WE GUARANTEE that, given at least three years to work with a young woman at Hukarere, she will become a confident, motivated, self-disciplined and responsible citizen capable of providing leadership and moral guidance in her community:
  • WE GUARANTEE that together we will have found her personal strengths, skills, abilities and talents whether they be academic, cultural, artistic or sporting; and that we will have fostered and developed those attributes to enable her to have access to a successful and rewarding future:
  • WE GUARANTEE that she will go out from Hukarere into a strong and supportive network based on her Iwi, the Church, the Hukarere Old Girls Association, and the network of Friends of Hukarere


To deliver on this guarantee we have a highly qualified and committed teaching staff led by Mrs Awhina Waaka, who are introducing many innovative schemes designed to achieve the best possible outcomes for each student.

Throughout this week they have been helped by many enthusiastic and highly skilled volunteers to assess and evaluate the strengths of each student, and we sincerely thank you all. We have not yet appointed a Matron to replace Mrs Prangnell, and we are taking our time and being very cautious in order to make sure that we find the very best person for this crucial appointment. In the meantime Mrs Prangnell is helping the Whare staff to get things settled down, and has agreed to stay just a little longer to help out. Thank you again Betty.

Our acting Matron is Mrs Alyson Bullock who has taken annual leave from her own job to hold the line until we find a new Matron. Alyson has been a key member of Te Whanau O Hukarere and has contributed much to the reopening.

Our adminstrator is Mr Des Lanigan who has worked tirelessly and has performed many small miracles to help Hukarere get started just ten days after receiving approval to operate as a school.

There are many others who have contributed, and who continue to do good works, and we thank you all.

Nga Tauira

The most important people here at Hukarere are the students. I would like you all to know that we have very high expectations for all of you, and we have enormous faith in your abilities. Women can do anything – and you can do anything you want in life. You just need to make up your minds to do it, and get on with it. We are here to help you do just that. Almost anyone can get a School Certificate, and almost anyone can get a University Degree. It’s only impossible if you think it’s impossible.

But most of all we want you to enjoy your life here; both in the Whare and in the Kura. Learning can be fun; living at Hukarere ought to be fun. Let’s see if together we can make it fun. I would like you to know that all of us in Te Whanau O Hukarere are here in your interests, and that we are here to serve you. Let’s achieve great things together. No reira kotiro ma, kia kaha, kia manawanui, kia u ki te pai.

New Students

There are still a few places open at Hukarere for both boarders and day pupils, and you are welcome to send new students to us even though the Term has started. I am sure that there are many Old Girls who would like their daughters and grand-daughters to come to Hukarere, but who did not know that Hukarere was to reopen. Well, we didn’t really know either, until just ten days before we opened. We will be getting in touch with as many Old Girls as we can find over the next year.

Old Girls Reunion

There will be an Old Girls Reunion in 1995 to celebrate the 120th Anniversary, and before June this year we plan to hold a reunion planning hui for all those Old Girls who want to be part of the Reunion Planning Team.

Finally, Te Whanau O Hukarere asks all of you here today to spread the word. We would like all Old Girls to send us their contact addresses and phone numbers. We need to find them so that we may give Hukarere back to them.

On behalf of Te Whanau O Hukarere, thank you all for joining us today in this celebration. I am sure that you will all join with me in wishing Hukarere every success, and in giving all our aroha to these students of the new Hukarere, and to those many thousands to come in the years ahead. To end this korero, I would like to leave you with the Hukarere Guarantee.


  • WE GUARANTEE that, given at least three years to work with a young  woman at Hukarere, she will become a confident, motivated, self-disciplined and responsible citizen capable of providing leadership and moral guidance in her community:
  • WE GUARANTEE that together we will have found her personal strengths, skills, abilities and talents whether they be academic, cultural, artistic or sporting; and that we will have fostered and developed those attributes to enable her to have access to a successful and rewarding future:
  • WE GUARANTEE that she will go out from Hukarere into a strong and supportive network based on her Iwi, the Church, the Hukarere Old Girls Association, and the network of Friends of Hukarere.

No reira e koro ma, e kui ma, kotiro ma, rau rangatira ma,kua mutu aku korero mo tenei wa, tena koutou, tena koutou,tena ra tatou katoa.

Kei raro.

The Origins of Corporate Iwi

This essay traces the origins of corporate iwi from 1984. The author was personally involved in the formation of the iwi and community provider network and its struggle to attain legitimacy. Much of the information that follows is sourced from the author’s personal diary and journal entries of the time, and from commentary in Te Putatara.

Based on that kaupapa the election of a Labour government in July 1984 and the appointment of Koro Wetere as Minister of Maori Affairs presaged a renewed impetus in Maori development in which were sown the seeds that grew into modern corporate iwi. It was the beginning of transfer of funding, power and responsibility from government agencies to both tribal and community providers.

Sir Apirana Ngata led an early Maori development initiative focused on land, culture, the arts and education. He advocated for the Maori Land Act 1909 under which previously established Maori land incorporations were legislated. Much of his work before and during his time in Parliament (1905-1943) including a period as  Minister of Maori Affairs (1928-34) was focused on land reform and development, including the formation of Maori land incorporations.

Prior to its abolition in 1989 the Board of Maori Affairs was heavily involved in land management  and development through its Maori Land Advisory committees and supported by the Department of Maori Affairs in both advisory and executive functions.  The Department was also providing Maori housing loans and running a very successful trade training scheme. The Maori Trustee had long been involved primarily in land management rather than land development.

The modern drive for economic and social development began in the Department of Maori Affairs and in the Maori Trustee in the early 1980s with further programmes such as Tu Tangata under Secretary Kara Puketapu in the term of a National government. The Department was enthusiastically supported by Maori communities. In 1982 Te Kohanga Reo was established by the Department with 100 kohanga opened in the first year, growing to 800 kohanga by 1994 with 14,000 mokopuna enrolled. The history of that ground brealing initiative is shown in the documentary “Let My Whakapapa Speak”.

However by about 1984 many in the Department and the Trustee saw themselves as the prime movers in development. That was the status quo but many in Te Ao Maori did not share that view.

For instance, when I joined the government development initiative in 1986 I was briefed by the kaumatua of my Wairarapa hapu on our mostly negative history of engagement with both agencies. They asked me to be alert to a repeat of that history. My hapu was not alone in its disquiet.

After its July 1984 election a Labour government convened an economic development conference in October that year; Hui Taumata . Hui Taumata recognized the need for Maori to move from welfare dependency, and for the government to assist Maori to participate in the economy. The conference communiqué, He Kawenata, called for a decade of development.

The Department of Maori Affairs presumption that it would take the lead role in Maori development post-1984 was a misreading of the mood of Hui Taumata. It also led directly to its ill fated and incompetent attempt to negotiate offshore development loans worth hundreds of millions in 1986 (Maori Loans Affair), and ultimately to its dis-establishment in 1989.

By 1986 Minister of Maori Affairs Koro Wetere had negotiated government funding to create a few economic initiatives.

The first was the MANA Enterprises business startup project designed to make low interest loans to fledgling Maori owned businesses. The second was a Maori version of a Labour Department training programme called ACCESS. The Maori version was dubbed MACCESS. It had been known for some time that two key requirements for development were access to capital and improved management and business capability. Both projects were funded by the Labour Department directly to the Board of Maori Affairs rather than the Department of Maori Affairs. The funds were held for the Board in the Maori Trustee account. A further economic development initiative was the Maori Development Corporation set up to act as a venture capital agency.

Wira Gardiner and Ripeka Evans were the two principal consultants who worked with the Minister and the Board to design the MANA and MACCESS projects, to negotiate the funding from government, and then to establish the MANA and MACCESS project teams. In mid 1986 Ross Himona had joined the MANA team and became team leader towards the end of 1986. Ria Earp was recruited by Wira and Ripeka to lead the MACCESS team. MANA was the more controversial of the two and there was a procession of project team leaders.

The kaupapa called for funding for both projects to be delivered through tribal and regional providers. Prior to that all grant, project and programme funding for Maori had been delivered by government agencies, primarily the Department of Maori Affairs through its district offices. There was naturally some resistance within the department and the central and district offices to the creation of a new funding channel not under the control of the department. However there were also many in the department who supported the move.

Until that time the Department of Maori Affairs exerted widespread control over Te Ao Maori. It was the gateway to access to government. Because of its ownership of that gateway it controlled information flow to Te Ao Maori, augmented by its own in-house magazines and its network of community officers. When you control information flows you control everything. Te Putatara was later started in part to defeat that control of information.

Government required all providers in this proposed new funding channel to be incorporated bodies, preferably legislated organisations, to ensure transparency and accountability. At the time almost the only organisations that met the criteria were the existing Maori Trust Boards. An ad hoc delivery mechanism was established consisting of 17 tribal and regional authorities later expanded to 21. They were mostly trust boards, with a few incorporated societies including five urban organisations. The five urban organisations were at Tamaki, Waipareira, Manukau, Whanganui and Wellington. The Waipareira and Manukau organisations still operate in that role.

The Whanganui Regional Employment Board was headed by Tariana Turia. At the time, long before her conversion to the whanau-hapu-iwi construct, she was ardently opposed to tribal delivery. Pita Sharples was the inaugural chairman of Te Runanganui O Ngati Kahungunu, which has since transformed itself via insolvency into Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc.

From mid 1986 seed funding of about $150,000 was distributed to each of the tribal and regional authorities to pilot the MANA Enterprises programme. Between then and the end of 1986 the project was fine tuned ready for the first major distribution of funding. After the pilot the first $9 million was granted and was ready for distribution at the end of 1986.

The Department of Maori Affairs was still trying to gain control of the project to deliver the funding through its district offices. The Board of Maori Affairs project teams who answered directly to two committees of the Board were widely supported in their intention to bypass the department altogether. That was the beginning of a long struggle to remove the department from programme delivery. The department managed to delay distribution of the first $9 million for some weeks towards the end of 1986.

There was another group of very influential players, some of them members of the Board of Maori Affairs and close to Koro Wetere, who were trying to have the funding delivered through non-tribal regional boards to be established under the Board of Maori Affairs itself. They too had no love for the department but equally did not want a tribal system put in place. They persisted into 1987 but gained no traction.

In December 1986 the so-called Maori Loans Affair erupted in Parliament and in the media, fuelled by questions by Winston Peters. The upshot of that was that the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Maori Affairs, Tamati Reedy and Neville Baker, were sent on indefinite leave on Christmas Eve. I was at the hui at Maori Affairs late in the afternoon of Christmas Eve when the State Services Commissioner Don Hunn announced that decision to the department. That took the two main departmental opponents of the tribal and regional delivery channel out of play for a few weeks.

I immediately sought out one of the remaining senior officials who supported the new funding mechanism. Within the hour the $9 million had been moved out of the Maori Trustee account and was on its way to the 17 new providers, to reach their bank accounts ready for them to begin operating the MANA programme in the new year. Until that moment it was likely that the department would prevail.

From early to mid 1987 MACCESS funding followed through the same mechanism. There was much more funding delivered through MACCESS than through MANA and between the two of them they established what eventually became the present system of funding delivery to Maori through tribal and community providers.

A further threat to the new system was Winston Peters who attacked both projects, and of course their sponsor in government, Koro Wetere. Early in 1987 I rang Winston and did a deal with him. He agreed to give me 6 months grace to get MANA Enterprises established and to ensure that accountability and transparency were in place. At the end of that period of grace he resumed his political attacks on both MANA and MACCESS.

The department persisted in its attempts to regain control and did manage to move the MANA and MACCESS teams out of the Board of Maori Affairs into its own direct control.

It mounted attacks on a few of the providers including Tamaki Maori Development Authority, Te Arawa Trust Board and Tainui Trust Board. A few of the providers, including Tamaki and Te Arawa, had tried to establish trade ties in the Pacific. Their private trade missions were monitored by diplomatic and intelligence staff in the Pacific and they were defunded by the Department of Maori Affairs.

I was working closely with Tamaki Maori Development Authority at the time of the Department’s attack which was led by Neville Baker. Like most of the new tribal and regional providers Tamaki was a bit rough around the edges as it developed expertise but was not guilty of the allegations against it. John Tamihere was working for the Department in Auckland at that time. John has since of course carved out a career with Waipareira and is now facing his own real problems. Tamaki won the support of the courts in their case against the Department but were never compensated for the personal and organisation losses caused by the Department.

The attack on Te Arawa was under the guise of allegations of a “2nd Maori Loans Affair”. I was also working closely with Te Arawa at the time and the alleged offshore loan was news to us on the economic development project team. There were also groundless allegations of improper MANA loans being made.

The Tainui Maori Trust Board under the guidance of Robert Mahuta was resolutely heading in its own direction and making its own decisions, tending to ignore the Department.

The 1987 parliamentary maiden speech of Ross Meurant (Hansard, Tuesday October 6th, 1987), who until then had served twenty years in the NZ Police rising to the commissioned rank of Inspector, laid out in great detail the paranoia and fears of Maori terrorism in the police at that time. He named names and organisations, and described how they were funded. He also alleged that Maori had terrorist links with Libya, the PLO, Vanuatu and Fiji. This information and its paranoid interpretation was sourced entirely in police intelligence gathering . To his great credit Meurant, having educated himself and broadened his mind at university and in the real world outside the police and parliament,  has since recanted and explained that the allegations arose out of a police culture of paranoia that he called “Deep in the Forest” in which he had been immersed for twenty years.

There were also rumours circulating in the community, notably in the more fundamentalist churches, that MANA and MACCESS funding was being used to fund criminal and terrorist activity. At about that time a renegade officer from the NZ Security Intelligence Service, who was a member of one of those fundamentalist churches, illegally tried to recruit an informant within the MANA and MACCESS teams. The attempt was made despite his having being ordered by Director SIS to cease his surveillance of Maori. His attempt to infiltrate the teams was thwarted.

As well as fears of criminal and even terrorist infiltration of the funding network many believed that Te Ao Maori was being manipulated by the CIA to destabilise the Labour government. For instance it was reported in the media and believed by some in government that a large US defence industry corporation that was partnering with Te Arawa Trust Board to install IT systems was really a CIA front. There were fears, expressed in the media, that the foreign principals involved in the so-called Maori Loans Affair of 1986 had been CIA operatives.

Throughout 1987 and 1988 there were tensions in the Pacific that added to the overall paranoia in New Zealand. There were two coup d’etat in Fiji, bloodshed in New Caledonia, and there were fears that Maori were linking up with separatist movements in the Pacific. The US and New Zealand governments were also monitoring the activities of the Soviets and the Libyans in the Pacific, fearful that they might support separatist movements. There was also a suspicion that Maori were linking with South Africa and Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC).

Security threats were conceived out of thin air and believed, no matter how remote or ridiculous they might have been, and Maori were invariably woven into the narrative . The tribal and regional authority network was established in that climate, one of intense racism and paranoia.

The Department of Maori Affairs itself, or at least a few at the top, also became increasingly paranoid. As well as operating within the external climate of paranoia it was losing respect and authority and power. Te Putatara did its bit to refine their paranoia.

Tribal and community delivery of funding to Maori somehow managed to survive, and eventually to flourish. As the late Sir Robert Mahuta said at the time, “the genie had been let out of the bottle”. It all seems quite surreal, twenty five years on.

To retain its grip on Maori development the department tried to make all providers agents of the Crown, directly answerable to the department, rather than independent contractors, and for a time they prevailed. In the end they failed and the department was disestablished in 1989 when the Iwi Transition Agency headed by Wira Gardiner (now Sir Wira) was established.

Te Putatara was accused by some department officials of being responsible for their downfall, through a long running campaign in the newsletter. They were far too generous in their praise. Their own “Maori Loans Affair” was a big factor in their demise.

Both the MANA and MACCESS projects eventually went the way of all programmes to Programme Heaven (Whanau Ora has a priority reservation). However the principle was established and funding delivery had been torn from the grasp of the department.

Probably the next major and long lasting initiative was the establishment of the network of Maori health providers by the new and short lived Ministry of Maori Policy. The officials who set up that network had been involved in MACCESS. By that time MACCESS was on its way out or had already gone. The core Maori health network was built around those providers who had operated MACCESS. In the beginning many of them were short on health knowledge and expertise but they were intent on mission transformation and funding capture. To give them their due over time they and many new providers did transform themselves into professional primary health providers. The ropey ones fell by the wayside.

One of the little understood but important initiatives was the delivery of health funding by contract to independent and autonomous providers instead of by funding agreement to agencies of the Crown. That moved more control and independence to the providers.

The rest is history as that ad hoc network of iwi providers evolved quite rapidly into autonomous and independent entities.

On the back of those initial steps in 1986 and 1987 towards tribal and community programme delivery the legislative course of that evolution started with a discussion paper “He Tirohanga Rangapu” in April 1988, followed by the government response to that consultation “Te Urupare Rangapu” in November 1988. That outlined the proposal to establish a new Ministry of Maori Policy and an Iwi Transition Agency. The Runanga-A-Iwi Bill was introduced in December 1989, and the National Government’s policy was published as “Ka Awatea” in 1991.

Policy development and implementation during that period has been documented by Cherryl Waerea-I-Te-Rangi Smith in her University of Auckland masters thesis “Kimihia Te Maramatanga”. Chapter 5 is downloadable here.

The fisheries settlements followed by Treaty settlements required that tribal organisations transform themselves into mandated iwi. Today they are tribal businesses or corporate iwi. Together with a plethora of non-tribal providers, Maori fisheries entities, Maori broadcasters, and with the Maori land incorporations that were in place long before, they form a fast growing Maori employment and career sector that did not exist 25 years ago.

In retrospect I often think that given the present state of Maori development characterized by resource capture by the elites, and doubtful benefit to the majority of Maori, I would not again help in the process of establishing iwi providers. Given the choice I would instead focus on hapu, closer to the people. By hapu I mean both traditional hapu in the tribal homelands and new hapu in the cities where most Maori live. The ideology behind the reinvention of iwi lay in the whanau-hapu-iwi post-colonial construct. However at the time there was barely enough expertise available to establish iwi providers let alone hapu providers.

And at the time the main thing was to wrest control of Te Ao Maori from the Department of Maori Affairs. Its demise in 1989 was a welcome bonus.

Te Kohanga Reo was and is a project aimed exclusively at whanau rather than hapu or iwi, controlled and coodinated by Te Kohanga Reo National Trust. The Trust has been through its challenges but remains committed to that kaupapa. There have been attempts from time to time by the some of the new corporate iwi to wrest ownership of kohanga from the Trust.

Ironically the organisation that was displaced by corporate iwi (and the Iwi Chairs Forum and Iwi Leaders Groups) as the political voice of Maori  actually was representative of hapu rather than iwi, and also represented urban Maori. The NZ Maori Council with it’s Maori Committees in sixteen District Maori Councils was more representative than the corporate iwi network. The rural Maori Committees were mostly marae based (traditional hapu) and the urban Maori Committees represented the new urban hapu. Delegates from the Commiittees sat at the District Maori Councils and delegates from there sat at the NZ Maori Council.

If their language and focus had been on rural and urban hapu instead of committees they may well have flourished in the new development environment.

The NZ Maori Council did take the leading role in obtaining recognition of Treaty rights in the courts and in gaining national pan-Maori settlements.

The problem with the NZ Maori Council was that at the national level it was perceived as being prone to cronyism and controlled by the old generation Brown Table. It did not renew itself from 1984 onwards to bring into the fold the activists who were creating the new paradigm in Maori politics. It did not reach out to the rising new generation of Maori leadership. The exception was the Auckland District Maori Council under Professor Ranginui Walker which did reach out and include the new generation. Like the Department of Maori Affairs the NZ Maori Council assumed that it would continue as the representive voice of Te Ao Maori. They both seriously misread the mood of the times.

In the long run however nothing much changes. The new Brown Table is made up of corporate iwi represented by the Iwi Chairs Forum and its Iwi Leaders Groups. The difference is that it is much less representative at its flaxroots than the old Brown Table. A new more elitist elite has replaced the old elite. Ka hao te rangatahi.



The Maori Women's Development Fund

Yesterday Tainui Stephens posted a photo of himself and Dame Georgina Kirby on Facebook. I haven’t seen her in ages but it reminded me of the time in 1987 when the Maori Women’s Development Fund was started. It is now Maori Women’s Development Inc.

Back then Georgina was president of the Maori Women’s Welfare League and a member of the Board of Maori Affairs. The Board had started the MANA Enterprises business startup project in 1986 and in 1987 was in the process of rolling it out to a network of tribal and regional providers. At the time I was the project team leader. Occasionally Georgina would invite me (command me) to the League office in Thorndon, Wellington for breakfast and a korero.

This one time the korero was about opportunities for women in business. I was an attentive listener because I too had noticed that almost all of the low interest loan funding was going to men. Oftentimes the men were good at what they did but were lousy bookkeepers and we would urge then to involve their wives in the business because often the wives were smarter and would make better financial managers. None of them took our advice of course.

What Georgina wanted to do was use some of the MANA Enterprise funding to create a fund exclusively for women. I told her to write a proposal and send it to me. She had a better idea. So I wrote the proposal right there and then. It was a very good proposal even if I say so myself. Georgina had it typed up and packaged into a very smart proposal and sent it to me that same day.

Guess what. I got this excellent proposal from the president of the Maori Women’s Welfare League and processed it. That involved checking out the kaupapa, the criteria for loans, the transparency and accountability mechanisms, and all that stuff. Proposals from the tribal and regional providers were usually lacking in some respects and were often sent back for improvement. But this one was perfect; tribute I suppose to the greater insight and ability of our womenfolk.

I analysed it and added my recommendations. At the next meeting of the Board of Maori Affairs MANA Enterprises Committee, just a day or so later, Georgina spoke to her proposal and I spoke to my recommendations. I think the committee members were impressed. And it was approved.

Now I don’t take any credit for the Maori Women’s Development Fund (now Maori Women’s Development Inc). It was Georgina’s idea entirely. And it was her idea right from the start to make me write it myself. I think she might have applied a bit of subtle or perhaps not-so-subtle Ngati Kahungunu whanaungatanga to make that happen.

Dame Georgina went on to run the fund for many years. It has now morphed into Maori Women’s Deverlopment Inc. MWDI’s objectives include:

  • To provide loans to Maori women to enable and assist them to enter into and commence business and/or to expand and restructure their existing businesses.
  • To establish, maintain and conduct a society for the promotion, advancement and encouragement of Maori women and whanau into business throughout NZ.
  • To provide developmental training programs for Maori Women and their whanau to empower and enable them towards economic and financial independence
  • To empower Maori business women and their whanau through sharing information and knowledge
  • To assist, support and foster the development of business ideas, opportunities and up-skilling amongst Maori women and their whanau
  • To encourage and support Maori Women into general wealth through business development.

That was pretty much what Georgina told me to write. Well, probably a bit flasher but that’s what she meant. A most worthy organisation indeed.

Nothing about Maori entrepreneurs in there I see.



The Myth of the Maori Entrepreneur

We have invented a new way to differentiate ourselves as Maori from everyone else where little or no difference exists. We have created a pou whakapono called the Maori entrepreneur. It’s a pretentious myth unless you change the definition of entrepreneur to mean what you want it to mean, in this case to mean any Maori who starts a business or even thinks of starting a business.

Type “Maori entrepreneurship” into Google; I did just now and up came 4,030 results. You will find out that Maori are the third most entrepreneurial indigenous people in the world, the third most entrepreneurial people in the world, or even that Maori are the most entrepreneurial people in the world. You will discover that Maori are more entrepreneurial than Pakeha. You will see infinite variations on the theme quoted time and time again by politicians, bureaucrats, business people and academics. It makes you proud to be Maori because maybe that means that you’re an entrepreneur; a member of the latest new iwi, Ngai Te Ngira-tuitui.

I grew up in a Maori owned business. It was a business with a whakapapa, handed down through three generations to my father, the fourth in line to own and operate the business. I didn’t stand in line though, joining the army instead. However I did fly home and operated the business for a whole two weeks after my father died and before I handed it over to my younger brother. It was mainly a shearing and fencing contracting company that also took on a lot of other rural jobs on contract. It was a common Maori business for those times; many of my father’s brothers and cousins were also contractors.

In our hapu there were about eight whanau businesses including farming businesses, and between them they employed most of the whanau and hapu during the shearing, crutching and fencing seasons. In the off seasons the people worked at the freezing works or at the fruit and vegetable canneries, and on local farms. The whanau who worked in our business would also depend on the business to tide them over the winter when there was little work available. They would draw regular interest-free advances or loans that would be repaid out of their wages during the season. That was common practice in all of the whanau businesses.

When the farming sector did well the whanau businesses did well. When the whanau businesses did well all of the whanau in the hapu did well, and facilities at the marae were built and well maintained. A new LDS chapel was built.

My father, his brothers and cousins were businessmen, although they all still thought of themselves as working men. They had grown up as working men in similar businesses and still worked in their own businesses. They did not give themselves pretentious labels such as entrepreneur, or even businessman. The most they would own to was contractor but true to their roots they were still working men. They were known by the workers as the Maori Boss.

In my turn I set up and operated a city based business of my own. The common pretentious term was consultant but true to my roots I always thought of myself as a contractor, because that’s what I did. I contracted to do whatever it was that my clients needed done that I was capable of doing. Sometimes they wanted to consult and benefit from my greater expertise but most often they just wanted me to do stuff.

I learnt very quickly that it was just like the shearing and fencing contracting business. There were good times and there were lean times as there probably are in most small businesses and I had to make sure I put something aside for the winter. Was I an entrepreneur and did I think of myself as an entrepreneur. Well I did take some risk and one or two of my business ventures fell over and the money I invested in them was lost but no, I was just a common or garden contractor in the guise of a businessman. I occasionally tried my hand at the entrepreneurial stuff but mostly, like most people in business, I preferred the low risk stuff.

The term entrepreneur used to describe those who applied considerable innovation to their enterprise, and who took considerable risk as well, not just the usual old risk of having a mortgage over your house to fund your business. The entrepreneur would put everything on the line and when he or she crashed and burned would climb back out of the wreck and do it all again and again. The entrepreneur did it with his or her own money and with money from investors who were willing to share in the risk. These days the investors are called venture capitalists. Sometimes they are called gullible whanau.

The common or garden businessperson on the other hand would sell the boat, borrow from his or her parents, and invite the bank to invest in the business. The bank would have no capital at risk because it would, and still does, take a mortgage over a house and over the business assets to make sure that it doesn’t lose its money. The bank is not in the business of financing entrepreneurs. That’s for venture capitalists.

These days it seems that entrepreneur now means anyone who has started a business and even anyone who is thinking of starting a business. And that is exactly the wide and loose definition that started this myth of the Maori entrepreneur. It all started with:

 “Global Entrepreneurship Monitor – New Zealand 2001 (Frederick, H.H., and Carswell P.J., 2001, New Zealand Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland).

“At UNITEC we define an innovation as something new which has the potential of changing relationships. That is a wide definition, but it includes any new service or product that could change an economic (buy me!), social (opt for me!), political (vote for me!), or even cultural (listen or look at me!) relationship. But an innovation uncommercialised or unexploited is an innovation wasted. So we define entrepreneurship as the commercialisation of innovation”.

“To capture this distinction, for the purposes of the GEM research our definition is an entrepreneur is a person attempting to create a new business enterprise either through spotting a new opportunity or out of necessity, job loss or redundancy”.

That definition reflects a North American linguistic viewpoint rather than that commonly found in New Zealand, Australia and Britain where we are much less grandiose than our American friends; ngawari even. We usually regard entrepreneurial activity as the visionary, innovative and risk taking part of the overall SME (small and medium enterprise) sector. The Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) Index used at Unitec to measure entrepreneurship opts for the American definition and includes all nascent (yet to be started) and newly started businesses.

The 2001 report contains a short section on Maori entrepreneurship. However it was their 2005 report that was the catalyst for the more grandiose claims about Maori entrepreneurship.

The Unitec Global Entrepreneurship Monitor: Towards High Growth Enterprise in New Zealand 03/04” (Frederick, H.H., 2005, New Zealand Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Report Series, Vol 3, No 1, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland).

Their 2005 report stated:

“Overall our research shows that at both national and international levels, the extent and growth of Mäori entrepreneurship remains comparable if not better than the entrepreneurial strengths shown by other ethnicities, indeed by entire GEM nations. With a TEA rate of 17.1%, Mäori have surpassed all of the nations in GEM with the exception of Uganda, Venezuela, and Argentina. If Mäori were their own country, Aotearoa would rank as the fourth most entrepreneurial country in the world”.

Scientifically speaking, to be considered as definitive research it would have to be replicated and verified by other researchers. Te Putatara is not aware of any other research to confirm those findings. It would also have to be compared with statistical census data from 2001 and 2006. At the moment there appears to be significant variation between Unitec data and Statistics NZ data.

Even if we do use the American definition of entrepreneur we need to look a little deeper into why there are so many business startups by Maori. One reason might be that New Zealand is the easiest, fastest and one of the cheapest countries in the OECD in which to register a company. There is no minimum paid up capital requirement and only a registration fee is required. There may be other reasons.

Statistically in New Zealand about one in ten businesses fail in the first year of operation and 70% capsize within the first five years. I had a couple of those on the way but it was fun trying and important lessons were learned even while the capital investment was lost. I think most business people would prefer to wait to prove their success before they applied the grandiose labels to themselves, and by then they wouldn’t need to.

That then is the source of our new pou whakapono, our Maori entrepreneurship myth. Perhaps it makes us feel good and perhaps to the uninitiated it makes us look good. And perhaps too in the eyes of the thousands of real business people out there, Maori and otherwise, we are being just a bit too pretentious; whakahihi.

It’s the politicians, propagandists, mythmakers, policy makers and the Maori elites whose needs are served by the Maori entrepreneurship myth, not the people who are out there doing the business, and certainly not the Maori people in general. Perhaps it’s main purpose is to attract government funding to support or subsidise a relatively small percentage of Maori businesses.

We should probably measure our entrepreneurial aspirations against the criteria outlined by management guru Peter Drucker (in “Innovation and Entrepreneurship) rather than adopt the definition that created the myth.

“This defines entrepreneur and entrepreneurship – the entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” 

“Entrepreneurship rests on a theory of economy and society. The theory sees change as normal and indeed as healthy. And it sees the major task in society – and especially in the economy – as doing something different rather than doing better what is already being done. That is basically what [John-Baptiste] Say, two hundred years ago, meant when he coined the term entrepreneur. It was intended as a manifesto and as a declaration of dissent: the entrepreneur upsets and disorganizes. As Joseph Schumpeter formulated it, his task is “creative destruction.” 

Most businesses just do what many other businesses do. The entrepreneur breaks new ground and does something different, that perhaps no-one has thought of doing before.

For the last word on the matter in a discussion at LinkedIn Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, had this to say:

“The article [in the Economist] points out the confusion around the purpose of entrepreneurship, as well as the motives behind what makes entrepreneurs tick. As the term has to encompass so many different personalities, businesses and viewpoints, it is only natural that misconceptions crop up. Nevertheless, there are some common traits in entrepreneurs – such as finding “worth in the worthless and possibility in the impossible”.

And this:

However, I completely disagree with his [Daniel Isenberg’s] view that “the main motivator for entrepreneurs is the chance of making big money”. If you get into entrepreneurship driven by profit, you are a lot more likely to fail. The entrepreneurs who succeed usually want to make a difference to people’s lives, not just their own bank balances. The desire to change things for the better is the motivation for taking risks and pursuing seemingly impossible business ideas“.

See also: The Maori Economy – a fanciful notion