Supplied Content (University of Auckland)
Auckland, May 30, 2017
The Maori economy is now worth close to $40 billion and is growing faster than the national economy, according to recent MBIE figures.
How do we harness this growth to lift wellbeing for all Maori?
A new research project aims to zero in on the kinds of leadership and decision-making that embody traditional values to generate wealth and wellbeing for the greatest number, today and tomorrow.
Iwi-controlled post-settlement assets alone are now worth an estimated $6 billion, with that figure predicted to double in a decade or so.
Many iwi have social development and cultural arms alongside their economic development entities.
Meanwhile, Maori entrepreneurs and small businesses are also driving economic growth.
It is great to see Maori benefiting from this development, but some are missing out, so we need to better understand how to advance so that the benefits are widely shared, Dr Rachel Wolfgramm, a senior lecturer in Management and International Business at the University of Auckland Business School said.
Dr Wolfgramm is co-leading a project that will turn the microscope on Maori leadership and decision-making as it plays out in modern Aotearoa.
Decisions made on the marae, within iwi corporations and Mori-run businesses affect who gets to enjoy the fruits of this burgeoning economy.
We want to highlight what is working well, act as conduits for the collective wisdom out there so people are confident and affirmed and see a pathway forward, co-researcher Dr Chellie Spiller, an associate professor in the same department, said.
The research is funded by a grant of $499,877 over three years from Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, New Zealands Maori Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) funded by the Tertiary Education Commission and hosted by The University of Auckland.
The core values
Maori leadership traditionally embodies core values: kaitiakitanga (guardianship of the environment), whanaungatanga (kinship bonds, nurturing of communities), iwitanga (expression and celebration of cultural qualities), wairuatanga (spiritual dimensions), manaakitanga (caring for others) and humarietanga (humility).
You see this playing out in business as the pursuit of group wellbeing over individual, an emphasis on relationships and trust-building as a foundation for doing business, and a long-term, multi-generational outlook.
Traditionally, Maori make decisions based on how it will affect their children and their childrens children, Dr Spiller, who is also Business School Associate Dean, Maori and Pacific, said.
In a recent ANZ Business Barometer study of Maori business owners, the number one concern was succession issues, she added.
The tanga values relate to the five wellbeings spiritual, social, cultural, environmental and economic that form the holistic Maori worldview.
We see these talked up in many contexts yet the way in which they are enacted is still not well understood, Dr Wolfgramm said.
Because of the focus on holistic wellbeing, we are also seeing interest in this research from international communities attentive to the scale and impact of sustainable business leadership, he added.
Getting it right
Dr Spiller: Were asking are our values guiding decisions, or are they baubles on the wall? If there are tensions between being a kaitiaki and being commercial, for example, how are organisations and people managing those tensions in order to achieve that vision of contributing to wellbeing, not just economic growth?
Dr Spiller said that many people in iwi trustee roles have told her how much they want to get it right with settlements.
There is a real sense of burden and responsibility about making sure they make good decisions, an awareness they are actors in this historic moment. Iwi with recent or imminent settlements can benefit from the precedent set by Ngai Tahu, Ngati Whatua, Ngati Kahungunu and others. Are there broad principles that could be applied across different settings that could help people make good choices?
The Research team
The research team also includes Professor Paul Tapsell, Dr Ella Henry, Robert Powhare and Ngaroimata Reid.
The researchers will draw on historic texts and archival recordings of Maori leaders, interview current Maori leaders, conduct an online survey and in-depth case studies of a range of Maori organisations.
The title of the research is: Promoting effective Maori leadership and decision making for prosperous economies of wellbeing: Te whakatairanga i te arahitanga whai hua me te Maori te whakatau kaupapa.
It will look at how Maori leaders generate, embody and enact leadership to advance wellbeing.
The research team is: Senior Lecturer Rachel Wolfgramm, Associate Professor Chellie Spiller, Professor Paul Tapsell, Dr Ella Henry, Robert Pouwhare, Ngaroimata Reid
The project has received $499,877 over three years from Nga Pae o te Mramatanga
Ng Pae has 21 formal partners and has produced over 3200 academic research outputs. Whai Rawa, the Maori economy theme, hosts a number of projects and is led by Associate Professor Manuka Henare (University of Auckland) and Dr Shaun Awatere (Landcare Research)
Dr Chellie Spiller and Rachel Wolfgramm