I was fascinated to read a New Zealand Herald story on the Māori (the native people of New Zealand, or Aotearoa) asset base, though it wasn’t the financial part that hit me. What was more significant were the principles behind Māori businesses.
About 15 years ago, when chatting to a woman representing a Māori winery, I said that she had an amazing opportunity to show that Māori were far ahead of the game when it came to corporate social responsibility, something that was close to my heart with my work for Medinge Group. It’s interesting to see that that impression I had in the mid-2000s wasn’t wrong, and is now backed up by Dr Maree Roche of Waikato University.
She identifies five values behind Māori leadership, which blends their needs to support marginalized communities, kaupapa, and contemporary influences.
The values are:
- whakaiti (humility): the leader enables others but doesn’t take credit themselves;
- ko tau rourou and manaakitanga (altruism): ensuring the well-being of others and the generosity of spirit;
- whanaungatanga (others): collectivism and relationships with past, present and future generations;
- tāria te wā and kaitiakitanga (long-term thinking and guardianship);
- tikanga Māori (cultural authenticity).
You’ll recognize a lot of the same words used in much of Medinge’s work on humanistic branding: the need for serving communities; to consider far more than the immediate quarter (‘finance is broken’); and being authentic.
Māori may find themselves better equipped with their newer organizations to weave in a message about CSR, considering the successful ones already practise it for their own people. Translating that in an export market, for instance, to serving a cause that is of concern to that market, should be comparatively easier than for a company so entrenched in delivering quarterly results to shareholders. Promoting ties between tangata whenua (the indigenous people) and the export market could be of interest, especially in Asia where many of the same ideas about family, whānau (extended family) and community are shared. They are in an advantageous position and those of us in New Zealand would be foolish to ignore it.