He Korowai: The Integration of Māori Cultural Practices and Knowledge Within the New Zealand Defence Force: A Case Study of Te Taua Moana, the Royal New Zealand Navy
Māori people are significant contributors to the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). However, Māori knowledge was not formally introduced into the military curricula until 2004. At the cost of sacrificing their indigenous identity, Māori personnel were expected to conform to the dominant Western worldview. Nonetheless, adding indigenous knowledge into military curricula improves the learning experiences of all NZDF personnel (Hohaia, 2015).
The aim of this research is to identify the institutional entrepreneurs and actors who made changes to formally implement Māori cultural practices into the Royal New Zealand Navy (Navy) core business from 1990 to 2005, and to identify who, how and why and they did so. This research will contribute to the knowledge of change within a very hierarchical organisation such as the Navy. In addition, the research was carried out to ensure that the Navy was acknowledged for their efforts in the 1990s to incorporate Māori knowledge and practice, and to make that example available to other organisations. The research question is “How have key actors enabled the recognition of Māori cultural practices and knowledge within Te Taua Moana, Royal New Zealand Navy from 1990 to 2005? This research will examine the theoretical concepts of institutions and the practices of individuals and collective actors who had intentions of creating, maintaining and disrupting an institution. It has been argued that institutional work conducted by institutional entrepreneurs might be deliberate. However, what those “intentions” may be will differ significantly depending on the dimension of agency that dominates the instances of institutional work that an actor considers. Institutional work perspectives in the past have looked more closely at practice and process rather than to an outcome. With a kaupapa Māori approach, combined with a Māori-centred framework, the focus in this thesis is on asking why and how institutional work is undertaken by institutional entrepreneurs, and who are those institutional entrepreneurs who act to instigate a divergent change within the norms of an institution. The change that is the focus of this thesis is the integration of Māori culture into the Royal New Zealand Navy from 1990 - 2005. The detailed analysis of the external and internal factors that drove this change is based on interviews with seven participants who were involved in various aspects of this significant piece of institutional work over a considerable period. Key findings of the outcome of this institutional work – the integration of Māori culture and practices into the Royal New Zealand Navy – show that change requires trust, leadership, support from people with expertise, and leaders and supporters with vision, determination and energy. The result is that the Navy acknowledges the indigenous culture of its country and it is the only Navy that displays this bicultural relationship wherever it goes around the world.