Research funding to develop Māori leadership

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

A new research project will look at how to harness the growing Māori economy to lift the wellbeing of Māori. The research will delve into how Māori leaders generate, embody and enact leadership in order to advance wellbeing.

The Māori economy spans several industries including forestry, farming and fisheries. The new research project will look at decision-making processes by Māori leadership.

Associate Professor at the University of Auckland Business School, Chellie Spiller says, “So how are these leaders making decisions, what are they including in their discussions, their perspectives and what are they looking at and how are they are participating with communities and making those decisions.”

Senior Lecturer in Te Ara Poutama, Dr Ella Henry says, “We live in a diverse world, we are represented right across the political spectrum, far too many of us are still impoverished. What does that mean for leadership and decision making now?”

The research is being conducted by a research team which includes Chellie Spiller and Dr Ella Henry. The project has received nearly half a million dollars over three years from Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.

Dr Henry says, “Everything we do as Māori researchers has to feed back into making meaningful change and delivering social justice for our people.”

According to Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment figures, the Māori economy is now worth close to $40 billion and is growing faster than the national economy. Iwi-controlled post-settlement assets alone are now worth an estimated $6 billion, with that figure predicted to double in a decade or so.

Chellie Spiller says, “There's a sense of a bit of dichotomy, between hey the Māori economy is doing really well and there's this growth but what does that actually mean and what is the nature of that economy and who is it serving.”

The researchers hope to produce toolkits, models and to assists Māori organisations with decision-making processes.