Jim Mather

Jim Mather

Chief Executive Officer, Te Taiurungi o Te Wānanga o Aotearoa
Doctor of Philosophy

Ngāti Awa

Ten years on from Ngāti Awa’s Treaty settlement it’s time for a reassessment, says AUT Business School alumnus Dr Jim Mather.

In his PhD thesis, Jim – a former chief executive of Māori Television and now head of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa – traces Māori economic development from its beginnings through to the ongoing Treaty settlements from the 1990s.

Using his own tribe, Ngāti Awa, as a case study he looked critically at how Ngāti Awa dealt with its Treaty settlement, concluding that had it been more effective in its post-Treaty settlement phase, it would hold a stronger economic position today.

Calling time on the ‘old guard’
For Jim, success in strategic planning for iwi in 21st century New Zealand comes down to effective leadership.

“Those who won the war might not necessarily be the right leaders to win the peace. It’s time to call time on the old guard – they need to hand over the reins to a new generation of Māori leaders who are equipped with the right skills and experience to ensure survival and the optimisation of cultural, community and commercial success,” Jim says.

“It’s time for us to create more opportunities for our younger leaders to stand up and make their own contributions to their iwi. It’s about creating a succession plan that’s sustainable for iwi in New Zealand.”

Doing right by Māori economic development
His research shows scepticism in the philosophy of a separate Māori economy.

“Māori are not running their businesses in isolation from mainstream New Zealand. It’s not possible to operate in a segregated, isolated manner.”

Māori have the potential to be major players in New Zealand’s post-Treaty settlement economy, but effective leadership is needed to do right by the concept of Māori economic development, says Jim.

He also notes in his thesis that where iwi have been successful economically, it is when they have taken care to treat their tribal and commercial arms as separate entities. It’s a model he backs, but not without caution.

Remaining relevant
Having a sense of unity in leadership, and sound decision-making processes, combined with a desire to accept and understand rapidly evolving technology as a useful mode of communication, is key to ensuring iwi remain relevant, particularly among the youth.

“Many see engaging with their iwi as ‘moumou taima’ – a waste of time. We need to change this mind-set, and we need to do it by re-engaging the 85% that are currently actively disengaged with their iwi.”

Last updated: 14-Jul-2017 2.42pm

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