A Critical Analysis of Māori Women Leaders’ Perspectives of Leadership in the Tertiary Education Sector in New Zealand

Taungapeau, Adrianne Junellie Vianna
McNeill, Hinematau
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

Māori leadership from the viewpoint of women is still relatively unexplored in comparison to other fields of leadership study. Therefore, the significance of this thesis is that it validates Māori women’s leadership. The tertiary sector is the research site for the study. It is apparent from the research that women in tertiary leadership roles draw on cultural beliefs and values as the guiding principles in their leadership praxis. The approach to this study is radical, as it places the art of karanga, the sacred traditional ritual performed by women, at the centre of the study. A kai karanga must continually follow a process that exemplifies leadership to achieve the responsibilities of the role. A recasting of the ritual overarches the overall qualitative research process. The overarching research question asks: How does cultural tradition influence Māori women in leadership roles in the tertiary sector? It is becoming increasingly evident that Māori women rely on their personal identity and cultural traditions grounded in Te Ao Māori perspectives to inform and guide their leadership practice and this is obvious no matter the context in which leadership practice takes place. The impact of decades of legislation and social attitudes to Māori women have had an enduring effect on Māori women’s ability to move beyond the patriarchal understandings of a women’s place in society. These views of Māori women in leadership has therefore centred on roles in the community which are located more towards the home rather than in business or politics or high-powered leadership roles across New Zealand society Concomitantly, the research investigates the challenges that Māori women leaders experience in their roles in the tertiary sector. There is potential for this research to influence leadership practice beyond tertiary education organisations. Te Karanga, as a methodological framework, has potential to apply across other communities of women and be useful for research in other disciplines in the future. It is hoped that the thesis will inspire and assist Māori women as they navigate the complexities of leadership in tertiary education.

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