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7 Traits of Maori Leadership

7 Traits of Maori Leadership

(By Potaua Biasiny-Tule,

Morena whanau.  You know, so much is expected from leaders within every society.  Whether it is the head of the family or the leader of an entire nation, we expect great things from anyone who is called or recognized as a leader.  Today, we are witness to many remarkable Maori Leaders.

This korero is a brief look at 7 Maori Leadership traits that we have seen most recently:

1. Aroha

It is an old concept but for my Koro Rangi, it was paramount.  Ko te Aroha – Love.  With love, you awaken with appreciation for that first breath, you give thanks for that first drink of water, you recognize and thank the first people you meet.  With love running through the body at the start of every day, anything, everything, seems possible.

2. Te Roro

In short – your Head.  It is the most tapu part of our body.  From here we think, we speak, we hear, we smell.  The inside can be as complex as a fully-fledged papakainga, as defensive as a patuwatawata, as simple as a small garden; for others, each room is never fully visited, the landscape bare and barren from under use, neglect.  It’s what happens in our head, working with the aroha in our heart, that our true wairua awakens.

3. Te Haa

It’s what comes out of your nose and out of your mouth.  Not long after comes a cough, a yawn, a word, a sigh.  Our life breath is what ensures we are here and is one of the few things we share with all others.  Our pores breathe in what the plants and trees breath out.  On top of our exhalations sit our purpose, our kaupapa, our intent, be it good or bad.  I watch our kaumatua, koroua, kuia take a deep breath in just before they stand to karanga, to whaikorero.  It is that moment that I feel at one with them and they with us.

4. Te Korowai

Te Korowai is a Cloak, the physical manifestation of natures embrace.  Under a korowai, people can feel safe, they can feel warm, they feel protected.  Some korowai are resplendent, bright with plumage and adventure, stories of travel and experience; others (like ours) are plain, built for basic comfort and simple.

5. He Korero

The best Leaders I have seen in 2012 are those who speak well.  They can sum up what the people are thinking, opening any conversation to a wider field of discourse and actively teach, share and learn. They appreciate that they may be an island but seek to build bridges between other islands, linking everyone together. And to speak isn’t just to use words – it is in their actions, their interactions and sometimes, it is what they don’t say but do.  Korero comes in many different forms and good leaders speak clearly regardless.

6. Nga Moemoea

This year, more and more talk centred on Nga Moemoea – Our Dreams.  It feels like our people have been in survival mode for so long that many of us have forgotten how to dream.  Some whanau are stuck in daily nightmares that to dream is to drift into fantasy, so best avoided.  My 2 dreams in life were to see my whanau looked after with our own homes, our own piece of protectable whenua which was safe for our kids, and to see the return of Te Urewera.  At the same time, we are being asked more and more what our dreams are – perhaps 2013 might see some of those dreams become a reality?

7. Tino Rangatiratanga

Kia mau ki te ako, te kawa, te tikanga, me te reo o nga tupuna.  Awhinatia to whanau, to marae, to hapu, to iwi.  Kei te mihi atu nga Pou, nga ahikaa, nga koroua, kuia I a rohe i a rohe. The very best leaders are those humble enough to serve their own whanau, marae, hapu, iwi without title, without position but with full knowledge that they are keeping the home fires warm. Maori Leadership could sorely use a few more of these ones.


Potaua Biasiny-Tule (Tuhoe, Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Whakaue, Te Arawa)

Potaua is founder and CEO of He writes and works as a digital communicator and technological entrepreneur.

He writes from experience as a digital practitioner, a communications tutor, a businessman, a tinkerer and believes that we are in the midst of a fierce digital revolution.

Potaua writes regularly for the Rotorua Daily Post and is a contributor to Tu Mai magazine. He is currently an elected member of the Te Arawa Standing Committee.

Potaua sees the Maori community as potential pioneers in this new knowledge economy and is looking to stimulate like minds. His writing is a bridge between the digital and analogue generation, so to get full use of this instant geek, please, just add water…”

(5) Comments

  1. RangiMarie

    Karawe! It was also awesome to be part of the 1st water rights hui at Turangwaewae, as the first speakers talked about HOW the KINGITANGA MOVEMENT ACTUALLY STARTED through "Korowai". A korowai when laid out on te tepu is a map for navigation in which way to direct the waka. It can also be a landmap for the surveying the lands - in a land claim. These are the ancient teachings of Mana Maori. Through the works of our hands - we DEVELOPED our true leadership. Tohunga Whakairo - carvers, Tonhunga raranga - weavers & Tohunga korowai/kakahu - the cloak makers. We also operated under the order of the ARIKI as 1st authority in speaking rights & RANGATIRA 2nd authority in rights to speak. I was teaching this at Rotorua museum under PUKAKI'S return. Ngamihi!

  2. Maaui Walker

    Tena koe e rangatira, E whakamoemiti ana ahau mo to manawanui ki te whakapono i roto i te mahi hirahira nei, ko to tatou rangatiratanga. Thanks' for putting this on line, it's a source of inspiration!

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