Balancing Commercial, Social and Cultural Objectives

 

Ihakara Puketapu, Chairman, Te Atiawa Runanga

 

Looking around this room I see we have some authorities on this subject, anyone over the age of 50 will know what we are talking about and all you younger ones below that age are at a disadvantage in some respects if you havenít lived and continue to live within your own communities, or worked for your own communities. I think thatís the essence of it. Its unavoidable as we go through life we have to work at various things in different places. But understanding how to bring together all those pieces in this day and age and communities you have got to actually be part of that.

 

It is my view of New Zealand society that we have a giant asset that is starting to move and most of the people here have an involvement with Maori communities or are Maori and come from that point of view. Iím talking about the Maori community, itís a giant asset thatís starting to emerge and you all know that. Its like it hasnít been asleep its been developing. What I want to look at are some of its strengths and weaknesses.

 

If you take the Maori community model it is based on place. Youíve got to have a place. You have to belong to that place, so that if I want to work with my community I have to belong there first. I donít have to belong there but if you want to be successful, if you come from there if you have a tribal tradition or hapu relationship if you belong its going to help you be successful. If you live and work there then thatís going to make you more successful, you have to get the trust of the people so that when they look at you its someone that has a track record. So I am saying to the young people, you wonít have a track record yet, youíve got to get a bit of age on you, unfortunately or fortunately. Because that is the way we are. That is the way folklore societies, are and Maori communities still have that strong element of folk culture. We have been able to retain it better than most cultures in the world for a number of good reasons, and thatís the essence of it. You come to create a management and you bring your health, business and all the other things that we do in a community.

 

The Maori community is about sustainability, going to the next generation to the next generation then to the next generation and so on. This has to be built into your mission as a manager. This has to be part of the management culture. It leads you to the point (as you get into actual projects) of saying ďWell the bottom line on the balance sheet is break even. The bottom line is not the 50% margin of profit or the 25%. The bottom line is ďat least I want to break even so I can take it to the next stepĒ. So, in trying to mould together the strengths of a community like that, which has a strong in-built - heritage of its history, place, locality, jurisdiction etc.  You have to get that built into your mission statement.  If you go there, people have been managing their marae, practising their social habits and cultural habits for generations, thatís their business, if you want to use the business in the best sense, thatís the business.

In many ways, its that tremendous resource that has been strengthened in New Zealand. Some of us in the older category will say ďwell its not so strong here and thereĒ but when you look at our young people, and the reaction to strengthening tribal structures, as is occurring in New Zealand, nowadays the communities are building up quite strongly, and there is a sense of confidence which is my second point.

 

You have to have confidence, people have to have confidence in you and the group that is trying to manage. They have to have it. Not so much in the old way when we tended to have a blind confidence, but today you have to have evidence to encourage the people to stay with the project.

 

When I talk about sustainability a lot of us have been caught up in the past years, and I guess you talked about it here in main streaming. In terms of balancing social, cultural and business objectives none of that can occur well unless you belong there to that community, that you know your boundaries that the people know you as part of a team that has the skills to respond for that community in all facets, whether it is religion, social, cultural it is (as you would say in your own words) holistic, its that piece that as opposed to running a business over here for the family to make a profit, there is nothing wrong with that but once you get into this community thing its about something else its about us Maori people know the next life of the generation the next life of the mokopuna what its going to be and so you have to hold to that.

 

Now the threats are that most of us, particularly the younger generation, and particularly those who are transients from their own tribal areas are almost appendages to the mainstream, the difficulty is when you are trying to develop a structure in a local community you can easily become an appendage to a government or a bureaucracy and itís a reality that you have to be careful about. Hence from time to time you hear from someone such as my elder over here from the north screaming from Auckland, or Hone Kaa over there from Waitangi. But its all about hey hold on a minute I want to hold my own position because I want that position secured for what I believe in. Maori people have been doing that for generations but it is a significant piece of leading the community to an efficient management operation. If we look across New Zealand right now you  have hundreds of very live Maori management pieces, all over the place. It is an exciting time, as this sort of giant thing emerges but itís also a reaction in some ways to whatís not happening in society generally, and itís not happening in other countries generally, they have lost the plot in terms of some things. The plot was to build nation states in this century to build nation states and to build them strong from the centre and we are, all of us at some time, part of that centre if we have been a public servant at some point in time.

 

We have reached a time in New Zealand where we are better informed in our communities. We are conscious of the forces that impact on us and in particular our young people. We are conscious of the strengths that we have and now we have got to begin to move, to create these new structures. In the Maori camp you have everything from a marae committee to a trust board to a kohanga reo to a kapa haka team,  a health group you name it weíve got it.  The trick of the trade is how we maintain that group of power houses and nurture them steadily. Not too much in a hurry but step by step.  I think Maori people are very good at that. What Iím trying to say to those people who are not involved be you a Maori or a Pakeha, if you are not involved when you want to say something about Maori people where they should go, you should stand over there with them and work in those communities and understand that you have a range of people who have impacts on them over here, or perhaps apathy over here, others as idealists. Somehow you have got to make some sense out of that, and the sense will come from understanding the strengths of culture or cultures and the strength of social practice that the people have and the strength from being able to work from the bottom line balance sheet. You can only create the sustainability if you go in and you take nothing more than 50% off the budget to allow your operation to move and then you can get your planning right. You must stay on that bottom line break even point in those initial years and build from that.

 

I would like to set up a few models.

 

The Maori model of saying to itself we know who we are, we know where we want to go, we know weíve got strengths and weaknesses and there are certainly a lot of weaknesses among Maori groups. Diversity across our groups is enormous but there is uniformity also, we are uniform in the sense of where we are trying to go and if we donít do it in our generation then the next generation will do it providing we get enough of them in the same way of thinking. That is inherent in our culture, its inherent that we make sure our children or one or two of them at least are going to make sure that those pegs that are in the ground are going to stay there, so that tree can keep growing. When you look around the threat is if you allow them to get into the modern world and they want to forget their origins. That is the big thing we have to do in our management, pull them in and not be worried about conflict of interest or nepotism etc. You can have fathers and mothers and children all working together in the management team of your locality because you will get the loyalty that you need. You need to be awake to following very tough, hard management rules. There is no softness in that. In the same way we deal with our rules on marae you deal with the same rules in business, there is no difference. Thatís what Iím trying to say. You combine this whole power force of Maoridom and we have plenty of good examples all around this country, all emerging.

 

The threat is that we do not change the way we relate to central and local government. That is important because their cultures are different, their social practices are different. Lets take an example. You have the Maori model, itís there, itís an exciting thing itís unique. I donít think anyone else has got that model in New Zealand itís an inclusive model, while itís a Maori model it doesnít exclude other cultures or races. It says here are the rules this is where we want to go this is where we have been and this is what we can achieve and we know where our management strengths are where we are weak and where we are strong and those are the messages we have to keep putting on ourselves.

 

Take for example the Ministry of Education as a centralised piece. The danger again for us is that we donít inculcate in our own people the fact that you should stop waiting for success from a government department. Donít wait for success because you will not get the sort of success that you expect. What you have got in many communities particularly Maori communities and Pakeha communities is the expectation that the government is going to fix it. Its not possible for a government to fix it but it is very possible for communities to fix all those social, cultural and business issues because we are on the spot and we breed the next generations and we live there and we make our communities work.

 

Take the Ministry of Education. Today it is achieving less because it is being killed off by social problems. Itís being given resources and asked to, create policies, Iím not defending it, Iím just saying thatís a fact an example where itís got into the business of social improvement. Itís not in that business anymore its in the business of academic delivery, of delivering skills that are teaching that will teach our kids to learn better in reading maths etc. Its got to be changed, that Ministry should be stripped of all its social responsibilities in my view and they should go back into the communities with the resources where there is truancy or suspensions etc. But thatís what happens the governments keep going on and turning over more of the same. We have got to say as a Maori community hey no its not about kura kaupapa its not about Maori language its about individual quality. Maori language is fine like Manuhuia Bennett over here we have been promoting that for years hey let us not put our head in the sand. It is all about skill, skill as a human being. The outcome of the massing together of all these nice pieces is a great human being, a great citizen of our communities and our country. The government that we elect, the government that we fund has got to understand now that the community is the best place to undertake all these things that its trying to do it on a pan-New Zealand basis in the same way as Maori used to be all pan-Maori we have shifted, because there are only some pan things. There is one example where this country could benefit quickly and greatly by shifting the resource with the responsibility because communities can do it.  When I say communities it is communities that have their marae and have their kokiri, have what ever it is.

 

I just wanted to emphasis that there are numerous examples in our central government approach today that are starting to break down properly and should break down. Health is another example, probably another catalyst for Maori and the rest of the community. Health is the most rigorous activity in Maoridom today, the most vigorous. We have got wonderful young people coming through and it is forcing them back to get affiliated to their communities they will find their feet so that 5 or 10 years out you will see a tremendous growth in this country of leadership coming through on all fronts and the devolution of health funds to our people is the type of thing that is recognising once you get our communities into the game plan then you get a better game

 

Iím saying things you already know, Iím just trying to give some crystalisation to what all you people already know and talking about the subject matter, balancing social cultural and business. It is a bit of an evolutionary thing that we are going through. We used to think at one stage on Maori fisheries weíll have one big Maori fisheries company now what we have learned is its not the way to do it its probably not the way to do it even though we have one big Maori company where we should always retain our quota and have a mechanism to make sure the total is retained. So it is a business of uniformity and diversity for the manager who wants to drive and develop all of these things in his local area. It is a tough call because if you are going to, you will not have much money, you are going to have all the jealousies and all the problems facing you, but you have to look for your strengths in your community, look to your relatives in your community and go forward. Its almost as if you have to get off the band wagon and stay at home, thatís what I learnt some years ago. I gave up running around the place and went to my own home and we are building and it has been a blessing.

 

I know Hone and them have a radio station those radio stations have been great for us because they are more than a radio station. They put the flag up in the new world, in the business world and the communication world for us. Thatís why I said it wasnít about Maori language it was about that, its like kohanga reo putting a flag up on education, putting a flag up on childcare, putting the flag up where other people donít listen like CYPS. Weíve got networks that could fix all that so the question that Manu would say is and heís always saying it get back to your people and decide what you want to do in the future be guided by the cultural perceptions  of where you should go as a community.

 

I have never seen a better time for Maori people than right now Iíve never seen a better time for other New Zealanders to capitalise on what Maori people are doing, they want to capitalise on it. There are some things that we have got to be honest about, get out of our grievance mode, throw that away, never mind the grievance mode, our old people had plenty to be grieving about but they didnít teach us to be grievers.