A new breed of Māori governance

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Te Whare Hukahuka is a social enterprise comprised of a group of Māori Social entrepreneurs who are passionate about bringing innovation to make a positive impact on indigenous people. Their Māori Governance programme, Ka Eke Poutama, celebrated the graduation of 55 students over the weekend.

Co-Founder of Te Whare Hukahuka, Shay Wright (Te Rarawa) says, "A purpose built generation of leaders who are willing to step up and face the challenges and actually step into the waves of change that keep disrupting our communities and keep disrupting our businesses and the ways in which we operate as a society,"

He explains that Ka Eke Poutama aims to empower Māori youth with the skills and confidence to step up into governance and leadership roles across the country and within Māori community organisations.

"I think Governance is a thing that pervades many Māori communities and entities. We've got governance in almost all layers of our organisations so it's really important we get good at it. That's the layer that's making the key decisions and essentially deciding the futures for our organisations which rubs off on our communities."

A graduate of the 2016 cohort, Te Ari Awa, (Ngāti Awa, Tūwharetoa) says, "It's important to my family and my people that these skills are developed within the tribe, within marae, within my family."

Ka Eke Poutama started in 2016 and has since graduated over 120 students. Shay Wright says this is a path where these successors are given skills to support them into roles on various boards, trusts, companies, iwi governance and national governance boards.

"This group here, these young leaders that are graduating from our program are actually thinking differently they're innovative, their cutting edge and they're willing to put themselves out there to bring that magic to our Māori organisations and other organisations around the motu (country)."

He explains that connection to the community and a desire to give back is a key characteristic to be selected for the program.

"Whether that's leaving a corporate career to work in the community sector or staring a new social enterprise or just giving back to their marae or  hapū or iwi boards, that's a really critical part of what it means to be a young Māori leader."

Ka Eke Poutama graduate Raniera Kaio (Ngāpuhi ki Whaingaroa, Ngāi Tahu) says, "Our time with the (Waitangi) Tribunal is done and now my people are moving from grievance to growth and so these skills will help me support that growth."

The team at Te Whare Hukahuka hope to extend the benefits to more rural communities.