Māori leadership: what role can rugby play?
Despite considerable interest driving prominent studies over many decades' leadership theory and research remains one of the least understood topics. Leadership is still mysterious and complex. This study is a journey of discovery designed to explore the complexities and prominence of leadership as it exists in New Zealand. The journey began with a literature review metaphorically represented as three poles of knowledge. The first pole focused on Māori (ordinary, of this land, native people of New Zealand) and Māori culture where leadership is highly valued. The second explored sport and in particular rugby, which enjoys celebrity status amongst Māori and New Zealanders. The final pole reviewed organisational studies and literature on leadership.The study pursued perceptions of male Māori rugby players concerning leadership, from a Māori, rugby, and New Zealand perspective. The research approach employed by this study is based on the principles of grounded theory, kaupapa Māori methodology and its Western cousin, ethnomethodology. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with nine prominent past and present Māori rugby players. By focusing on this demographic, this study was able to examine Māori and Pākehā leadership styles, similarities and differences; highlight key cultural characteristics and strengthen arguments claiming a relationship exists between the three poles of knowledge. This approach enabled a review of those beneficial and advantageous qualities considered to have an impact on leadership in New Zealand.Findings from interviews revealed relationships do exist between the three poles of knowledge. The values or concepts whānau (family, extended family), responsibility, collectivism, and tuākana/tēina (elder/leaders to younger/novices) relationships were identified as central qualities of Māori leadership. Collectivism is expressed as concerns of whānau. Reciprocity was embodied in relationships of tuākana/tēina with rugby being a vehicle that enhanced both and encouraged leadership development. Findings combined with evidence from literature prompted discussion aimed at three different audiences: leadership theorists; Māori, and; rugby audiences. The study's implications and limitations are taken into consideration.