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Ngā niho tēte o Pekehāua: An indigenous articulation of governance

This thesis originally set out to examine the structures and models available within New Zealand for a post-settlement tribal governance framework that would meet the Office of Treaty Settlements requirements while empowering the needs and aspirations of Ngāti Rangiwewehi. During the course of the study, as a result of the fast-tracking of our tribal settlement this emphasis changed. With Ngāti Rangiwewehi electing to utilise the government recommended templates for the post-settlement entity, the research shifted to consider the evolution of governance within the tribe, looking at the ways tribal governance had developed from traditional practices to our current governance frameworks. It was anticipated that gaining a deeper understanding of the factors that have shaped and influenced our governance would also give us the necessary insights to adapt the Crown model the tribe had adopted to ensure it was able to meet Ngāti Rangiwewehi’s future aspirations. This belief was grounded in an understanding that prior to the arrival of Pākehā to Aotearoa/New Zealand Ngāti Rangiwewehi, along with all other iwi Māori, had their own systems of Governance. Our governance frameworks, encapsulated within our tikanga and kawa, operated to produce a strong, vibrant, and self-determining society. Through colonisation, and its imposed Western frameworks for governance within Aotearoa New Zealand, traditional Māori frameworks for law and governance were undermined, deconstructed, or marginalised to make way for the civilizing discourses and structures of the Settler, as enforced by the British Crown. Although the dominant system of law and frameworks for governance may have changed, Ngāti Rangiwewehi and Māori desires for self-determination have not. Against this background the central question of this study has itself evolved, initially contemplating to what extent Ngāti Rangiwewehi might be able to remain self-determining in and through their post-settlement governance arrangements. The overwhelming conclusion the study could not avoid was that any governance approach drawn from the settler-colonial Eurocentric system currently dominant in New Zealand would be incapable of supporting tribal aspirations for self-determination. What was equally evident was the continued determination that the tribe, collectively and individually, maintained to mediate the imposed governance frameworks that interfere in our ability to fully exercise our tino rangatiratanga, or in our iwi-specific context, our tino Rangiwewehitanga. This observation led to the final iteration of the thesis question which asks what frameworks for governance would best empower Ngāti Rangiwewehi to be self-determining in and beyond this post-settlement governance era? Throughout the research what became apparent was the potential to utilise our traditional frameworks for governance, described and encapsulated within this study as Rangiwewehitanga, a decolonial paradigm for tribal governance. Viewed in this way, Rangiwewehitanga expands our understanding of governance beyond the limited perspectives imposed through colonization and requires our people to recognise and return to the wisdom of our ancestral teachings to craft the most appropriate pathways forward.
Type of thesis
Mahuika, R. (2019). Ngā niho tēte o Pekehāua: An indigenous articulation of governance (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12409
The University of Waikato
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