Te Ao Māori: an evolving and responsible strategy

As New Zealand’s central bank, we – the Reserve Bank- Te Pūtea Matua – are the kaitiaki (guardian) of Aotearoa’s economy and financial system. Through our Te Ao Māori (Māori world) strategy, we are building relationships with tangata whenua to influence the long-term economic well-being of Aotearoa. The strategy is intended as an evolving and transformative journey that will bring together the many threads that already exist within our approach and extend them in new directions.

A critical part of achieving our vision of being a ‘Great Team, Best Central Bank’ is broadening our stakeholder engagement, our approach, and our policy knowledge to become a more inclusive central bank. As New Zealand’s central bank, Māori values are part of our national identity – how we see ourselves and how we are viewed by the world. Similar to the state sector but also utilising our own operational independence, we acknowledge Te Tiriti and our commitment to Te Ao Māori in our own unique way. We aim to reflect the Treaty principles of partnership, protection, and participation within the core tenants of our strategy.

Through our Te Ao Māori strategy, launched in 2018, we are building understanding and embracing our history and heritage. By exploring how Māori culture and businesses operate, we are able to gain unique insights of their contribution and impact on the New Zealand economy. By adopting Māori values, we are able to take a long-term view of our core mandate to promote the wellbeing and prosperity of all New Zealanders.

We breathe life into our Te Ao Māori strategy through three key work programmes: policy, engagement, and culture. While we have made considerable progress in each work stream, we continue to be future-focussed, finding opportunities to put our strategy into practice.

Figure 1. Our Te Ao Māori approach

Te ao maori approach

1. Policy

We are integrating the unique intergenerational and long-term view of Te Ao Māori into our core functions by understanding how monetary policy and financial stability impacts Māori businesses and vice versa. We also continue to broaden our knowledge of Māori businesses, and their economic and financial challenges and opportunities.

2. Engagement

We are broadening our strategic relationships with iwi, rūnanga, Māori-owned businesses, government agencies, central banks and other Māori organisations. We are building advocates and partnerships that are enduring and mutually-beneficial.

In 2019, we visited and engaged with 11 Māori organisations during annual business intelligence visits and 20+ (circa) on other issues. Their views and perspectives have helped inform monetary policy decisions, the future of cash and the bank capital review.

3. Culture

We are embedding Te Reo Māori (the Māori language) and Māori tikanga (customary practices) into our organisational culture.

The first part of embedding Māori culture is developing the art of storytelling. With the approval of Northern hapu Te Roroa, we have re-imagined the legend of Tāne Mahuta to connect with our stakeholders and tell the story of the Reserve Bank.

Another key part is ensuring we promote and embrace Te Reo within the Bank. To support this initiative, we signed a Mahi-Tahi agreement (MOU) with Te Taura Whiri I Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) in 2019. Te reo lessons, tikanga workshops and other opportunities to understand Maori history and culture are also provided to our staff.

The strategy is supported by an internal cross-department ohu (working group), senior leadership guidance, board oversight, and an external advisory panel of industry experts.

Te Ao Māori Strategy External Advisory Panel

Mark Tume is currently chairman of Ngāi Tahu Holdings Corporation, Te Ati Awa Iwi Holdings, Infratil, and is a director of Retire Australia. He was held a number of governance roles with listed and unlisted companies in Aotearoa and Australia. He has also served on the boards of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, Transpower, and KiwiRail. He lives in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Ripeka Evans is currently Chair of Northland Polytech Limited and Deputy Chair of Toi Ohomai Polytech Limited. She was a director of Te Aupōuri Fisheries Limited and trustee on Te Runanganui o Te Aupōuri.She has held Chief Executive roles with Te Māngai Pāho and Toi EDA and worked at the Māori Economic Development Commission, the Department of Māori Affairs, Television New Zealand and the Ministry for Culture & Heritage.

Te Rau Kupenga is the current principal of Te Amokura consultancy. He was previously Deputy Secretary for the Ministry of the Environment, where he helped lead the Crown’s position on iwi rights and interests in freshwater; Deputy Chief Executive at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development; and Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Education.

Alison Thom is currently a principal advisor at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Previously, she was Chief Executive of Te Runanganui a Iwi o Ngapuhi, Deputy Secretary at Te Puni Kokiri, and Regional Director at the Ministry of Education.

More information:

For more information about the Reserve Bank’s Te Ao Māori Strategy, contact [email protected].