Maori Can Offer Great Models For 21st Century Businesses

The following presentation was delivered by Rūnanga chairman, Naida Glavish, to Auckland business leaders in November 2010.

Today’s world is moving at break neck speed.

With instant communication, someone is likely to ‘tweet’you the morning news, even before birds themselves have heralded the dawn.

The faster our world seems to move, the more it is important to return to our origins, the simple models for living that evolved over thousands of years.

We have built a solid dependence on global economic and financial systems that we now find to be deeply flawed. These systems are at best only 3 or 400 years old.

The economic, social, and environmental systems of Maori are many thousands of years old. Logic would tell you our time tested and evolved systems are built on more solid foundations.

A crucial system for us has always been whakapapa, roughly translated to English as geneology.

It was and still is a matter of survival to have a knowledge of whakapapa; not in the literal sense of filling in a family tree, but in the sense of knowing where you come from.

Knowing and discovering where you are from, your Iwi, is distinct from generically and racially being Maori.

Generically being ‘Maori’ is like calling a Scotsman, an Irishman or a Welsh person British or even English. They would not thank you for that.

We are coming of age in this country to move on from talking generically about Maori this and that. Iwi are distinct, with both commonalities and differences and relationships with each other.

Here in Auckland, Ngāti Whātua and Tainui as Iwi meet geographically ; ourselves from the North, and Tainui from the South. And a number of other Iwi and Hapu in between.

There is a natural hierarchy to the way we see ourselves, our past and our future.

The key to our return to full health and wellness is through the recognition of these natural hierarchies, where Iwi leaders work with Iwi leaders. We must not get caught up in the side-eddies of invented structures and groups claiming this and that mandate.

The world is desperate for new models for business as traditional methods fail.

Aotearoa New Zealand has with both Maori and pakeha culture led the world in many, many innovations.

And it is time for us to step up and do it again.

There is a greater synergy than many realise between models such as Public Private Partnership, Social, Economic and Environmental sustainability and a Maori world view.

It is time to give a full meaning to this word we now so often hear; holistic, without a W.

That is something we have always done. Our economic endeavours, our relationship to people and planet have always been one integrated whole, with a W.

The time has never been better for Iwi Business Collaboration.

There is an exciting opportunity for us to build innovative solutions, drawing on the best of our Maori collaborative practices, on the best of the western world’s technologies and industries, and rise up to deal with the multiple economic , environmental and social challenges we must work to resolve for our children and our children’s children.

It is not a matter of the best of both worlds, it is the best of all worlds;

Identifying places of connection and unity of purpose, underpinned by the upholding our values as humanity.

There is one dimension that I have not yet mentioned that is perhaps the most important of all, and confronting for many; the spiritual dimension of how we function together as people.

As Ngāti Whātua, as mana whenua here, there are unspoken connections with the land the people and the spirit of this place. This is not tangible, but it is something that can connect us all.

It is not new age claptrap, nor is the stuff of witchdoctors, voodoo or howling at the moon.

It is simply taking the time to honour the unknown dimensions of the world and the universe; those who have gone before and their wisdom and knowledge.

Isaac Newton once said:If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.

We don’t know it all. Humility and wonder at the majesty of this place can inform our values and the way we work together for holistic solutions; With a W.