Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Manurau: A conceptual framework of Māori leadership practice in the New Zealand public sector

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posted on 2021-12-07, 08:41 authored by Bean, Daryn

This kaupapa Māori examination of Māori leadership in the New Zealand public sector reveals that the experience of Māori working in government agencies is neither well understood nor specifically addressed in the fields of public administration and public-sector leadership. The study found that a key leadership practice of Māori public servants is to position themselves strategically and thoughtfully to advance mātauranga Māori and kaupapa Māori. They are public servants who are cognisant of the Crown–Māori spaces in which they occupy. They are careful in their assumptions and views about the underlying forces at play and the responsibility they have in working for government. They are concerned about the legitimate place of mātauranga Māori and kaupapa Māori in kāwanatanga spaces and work to alleviate and mitigate bureaucratic pressures imposed by the dominant Westminster model of governance. Māori leadership practices are designed and constructed through personal models of leadership shaped by Māori values, legacies, whakapapa, and whānau upbringing. Māori leadership practice has influence beyond the hierarchical structures of kāwanatanga. Metaphorically, Māori public servants are manu kōrero (literally, knowledge birds) who, given the right conditions, would not operate alone singularly, but operate as many birds, as Manurau (literally, one hundred birds). They work inside kāwanatanga – empowering and leading others, expressing rangatiratanga from a position of personal integrity, humility, and authority. This study applied critical theoretical tools for research and analysis and found answers that are rooted in kaupapa and mātauranga Māori methodologies. Te Arawatanga, as a tribal framework, positions the insider Māori researcher into a safe cultural space to be courageous about expressing rangatiratanga in a kāwanatanga context. Whakapapa analysis grounds the research within a Māori ontology. Whakataukī emphasises the Māori voices and narratives framed within the wisdom of ancestors. This study can be said to rest on the shoulders of those with lived experience who see with Māori eyes, hear with Māori ears and feel with a Māori heart. The significance of this thesis therefore provides a ‘starting point’ that seeks to legitimate the Māori leadership contribution to New Zealand’s public service and advocates for greater recognition and validation of Māori leadership practice and indigenous leadership in public administration globally.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Public Administration

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Government

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Government


Jackson, Brad; Ryan, Bill