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The Creation and Implementation of Māori Policies

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posted on 10.10.2021, 21:21 by Manukau, Paki

Policy that affects Māori is not new. It has existed since the first Europeans arrived in New Zealand. Some have been created where Māori are external to its development. Some have been developed based on engagement with Māori but have been influenced by a Eurocentric perspective. Yet others have been developed by Māori for Māori.

This thesis presents some of the historical, social, and economic factors that have influenced the need for government and non-government organisations to develop policies that are more responsive to the needs and aspirations of Māori. It will also demonstrate that despite a myriad of policy, legislative, and strategic changes that have progressively shifted towards responsiveness to Māori, not much has been achieved statistically, highlighting a need for policies that are significantly different from that which has already been tried. In the current political climate, we find ourselves in an exciting time where the government is endorsing a more Māori worldview philosophy. One that acknowledges that previous policy, legislative and strategic change, has only been minimally effective. Moreover, one that understands that it is imperative to the wellbeing of Māori and, by extension, the social development of New Zealand to develop new policies that will make a significant and lasting positive change for Māori.

This thesis aims to understand why organisations find it necessary to develop Māori responsive policies and how Māori policy is formulated and implemented in the current political climate. The associated aims are to identify commonalities and best practices in the development of Māori policy and understand what Māori policymaking involves.

This thesis will analyse two examples of Māori policy development and implementation: one from a government agency, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and one from a non-governmental organisation, WellStop. MSD and WellStop have proposed to move beyond the perfunctory use of tīkanga and te reo Māori within their organisations and embark on a journey of engagement to embed a Māori worldview, values and processes across the whole of their organisations from leadership to frontline. For MSD, which is one of the largest government organisations in New Zealand, this is no small feat, and WellStop, while it is a smaller organisation, is an industry leader for their sector in combating harmful sexual behaviour.

What underpins the process of developing their Māori responsive policies is vitally important. With this in mind, this thesis includes first-hand accounts from Hohepa Patea, the Principal Māori Advisor for MSD, and Mark King, the Chief Executive Officer for WellStop. Their contribution to this thesis has revealed many commonalities in the development of the Māori policies for both organisations.

The findings show that while MSD has been influenced to develop policies that are responsive to Māori due to governmental aspirations to address Māori social and economic conditions reflected in negative statistics, WellStop is influenced by the parameters set by the expectations of government organisations, the standards set by Level 2 accreditation (Ministry of Social Development, 2020 (a)), and professional registration bodies (Social Workers Registration Board, n.d. (1); New Zealand Association of Counsellors - Te Roopu Kaiwhiriwhiri o Aotearoa, n.d. (3)). I will elaborate on the similarities in the stages of development in each organisations’ policies: the use of whakataukī and karakia, whose inspirational words anchor their policies in mātauranga Māori; the establishment of strong Māori leadership, knowledgeable in mātauranga Māori and tīkanga to ensure the policies’ cultural efficacy and to drive the mauri of the policies from the top down; researching each organisations’ previous and current policies that pertain to Māori to understand the past and develop more effective policies; and finally, the merit of utilising tīkanga processes when engaging with Māori staff, whānau, hapū and iwi.

What cannot be denied is the influence of Hohepa and Mark’s background knowledge of mātauranga Māori and their heart and drive to see their organisations operate from a Te Ao Māori perspective. Regardless of other influences, they intend to make spaces and places better for Māori whānau who access their services. Hohepa and Mark are clear that embedding a Māori worldview and values across their organisations is the primary focus. One of the most crucial common denominators in both organisations’ policies is a clear understanding of the importance of keeping people front of mind to ensure that the policies are developed with a powerful sense of manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga.

He aha te mea nui i tenei Āo? Māku e kī atu.

He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!Nā Meri Ngāroto


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Rights License


Degree Discipline

Social Policy

Degree Grantor

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies


Harrington, Carol