I experienced the turning of a tide last Friday night. A catalyst for a different tomorrow. An example of Maori self-determination succeeding at the very highest level. Yes, I was privileged to be amongst approximately 700 people, including the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, celebrating excellence in Maori Farming.
The announcement that Omapere Rangihamama Trust (ORT) had won the Ahuwhenua Trophy saw a large contingent of Ngapuhi rise to their feet in explosive celebration. The sense of pride and passion was clear. The Ahuwhenua Trophy remains the pre-eminent accolade to win in Maori farming and is recognised as the most prestigious and comprehensively judged award in New Zealand. I was heartened to see the support of other iwi and hapu from throughout the North there in support of the Trust and event. To me, it signified collective strength, ownership and recognition of hard-won success. As the Chair of the Trust, Sonny Tau, had stated earlier ‘at iwi level, this competition means everything’.
When one considers the need for aspirational role modelling within the ‘heart’ of Ngapuhi, it doesn’t get much better than this. It is an achievement that needs to be celebrated and shared as a community and as a district (plans are amidst!) The impact the win had on members of the whanau on the night was testament enough of the sacrifice made to change the tide. To work towards a better tomorrow, with vision, clear process and hard yards.
As I was sitting at this amazing gala dinner, I reflected on legacy. That the world we live in today is the legacy shaped by decisions of those that walked before us. That these decisions have brought us to this very place. And although the odd individual stands out – for both incredible, horrendous and everything-in-between actions – the reality is that people stood with, against or were just indifferent and thus became part of the collective outcome.
As I consider where we could be heading and recognise the need for strong leadership, brave leadership to step up and counter the current flow, I am incredibly encouraged by those that are trying. Those people that are prepared to put their heads above the parapet and work towards a better future – because it isn’t easy to go against the tide. The key point here, though, is that all leaders are part of the team. And success in any form is always the outcome of a collective approach.
ORT would not be where it is today without collective buy-in and working as a unit. It is through their collective vision and clear understanding of where they want to be, who they want to be (i.e. building their legacy) that they have managed to achieve such significant success. And all credit to them.
I was recently asked, does gender diversity add value and why is this important? Here’s my response.
I have no doubt that gender diversity adds value. The fact that gender diversity (and cultural diversity) have finally been extracted from the shadows of a male-dominated society and given the recognition they deserve, as a foundation of progressive thinking, is testimony to that. We only need to look around the world to see the impacts of previous male-dominated decision making.
But I want to be clear, it is not about which gender is superior. This is simply not an argument. Each brings a strength, an identity, a way in which decisions are made and business is undertaken. Like hot and cold, the sun and moon, masculine and feminine energies bring balance to the whole. It is recognising that each member brings their own approach, their own set of values and beliefs. It is through strong diversity with a united vision that magic can really happen.
The courage to bring core values, our motivators, to the governance setting can really break down barriers and open new ways of achieving success. The following excerpt from my 2015 International Women’s Day Speech sums it up:
“We need to celebrate this diversity between the sexes rather than trying to control and manipulate it to one’s own end. As a people, this is where our strength will come from; our unity and healing. And we do live in a time where we need to heal; individually and collectively. We need to learn to forgive and make peace. We must be brave and expect better, want for more, fly the flag of freedom, respect, grace and prosperity. And it all starts with us … you and me.
Women, I believe, play a significant role in bringing about this change. Although often perceived as the physically weaker sex, we are strong of heart, carry great wisdom and can endure and grow from many trials and tribulations. So, I firmly believe in the power of unleashing women’s potential. I firmly believe that we have some way to go to achieve balance and that it will take a change of mind-set by both men and women.
I firmly believe that we need to do this – our world depends on it. Equality or balance is the right thing, the only thing that will bring true prosperity to human kind.”
At the end of the day, it’s about respect, each of us recognising and valuing the strength and integrity of another. It is about truth and the responsibility each of us must take in walking our truth and holding ourselves accountable. But most importantly it is about aroha and the courage this brings. If we hold this at our heart, our actions, our decisions, should be ones that encompass all our people and our place.