May 7, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Self-determination the key to economic development

2 min read

Waiariki students, staff and members of the public had the incredible opportunity to listen to a short lecture by acclaimed academic Professor Stephen Cornell who was visiting Rotorua last week.

Drawing on the experience of Native nations in North America over the past 25 years, Prof Cornell explored the ways that Indigenous peoples have reclaimed the right to govern themselves according to their own designs and putting those designs into practice by developing institutions that respond both to indigenous cultures and to legal and political constraints. While recognising that the situation of Maori in New Zealand is distinctive, Prof Cornell argued that the North American experience may offer usable ideas for other Indigenous peoples concerned to regain effective control over their own resources, affairs, and futures.

The key message that we came away with was when indigenous tribes decide on how they will govern themselves the outcomes are sustainable and beneficial to the tribe and therefore to economic development. Of course the responsibility of governing is huge but is only truly effective if it reflects the worldview, the tikanga, the kawa of a people.

Our words don’t do justice to his korero, we filmed him and will upload soon, it’s horrible quality but if you can, crank up the volume and be left truly inspired. Mauri ora!

Stephen Cornell is Professor of Sociology and of Public Administration and Policy and Director of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona. His Ph.D. is from the University of Chicago. He taught at Harvard University for nine years and for nine more at the University of California, San Diego, before joining the Arizona faculty in 1998. In the late 1980s, Professor Cornell co-founded the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (he continues to co-direct that project today) and in 2000-2001 led the development of the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona. He has spent most of the last 25 years working with Indigenous nations on governance, development, and related issues.

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