Intergenerational Leadership Development ‘Weaving the fibres of the Muka’

 

Deidre Otene
Kohatutaka
Te Uri Mahoe
Ngapuhi, Te Rarawa

Deidre Otene

As a young girl I spent days on end, at the feet of my Nana preparing Muka as she weaved Kete in her home in Mangamuka. My nana Adelaide Tiari Otene was a weaver and as a child I sat at her feet scraping Muka fibres whilst she mentored me through the process of weaving Kete. The process became a part of everyday life for us as her mokopuna (grandchildren) and unbeknown to me then, would be the guidance that has woven my journey into leadership and development today.

The topic of my fellowship is Intergenerational Leadership Development and the importance of Collective Impact in Indigenous settings.


Caring for the fibres of the Muka

Like the fibres of delicate Muka I liken them to that of our people, diverse in our makeup and easily broken and tattered if not cared for appropriately. Each individual strand of Muka is weak on its own, breakable and bare, but woven together creates a strength, resilience and beauty that can withstand the harshest conditions.


The Collective Mind Set

During my short time on this fellowship journey I have had the privilege of meeting and being in the presence of influential people from diverse upbringings and beliefs. On a recent trip to Hawaii I was invited to speak at the Future Leaders of the Pacific forum and workshop with a collective of young leaders hailing from Australia, Tonga, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Niue, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, the Marshall Islands, Guam, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, American Samoa and Hawaii. As we shared our stories of adversity, triumph and aspirations the conclusion of the workshop provided collective substance to my fellowship topic. That no matter where we had been as a people our aspirations to achieve prosperity would come from a collective mind-set. So from the floor of my nanas home to the shores of Hawai‘i the aspiration was clear, that through caring for each strand of the Muka we could weave together an unbreakable kete that would house the knowledge and insight to carry our people forward into the future. My exploration of Collective Impact and successful examples in Queensland Australia and here in New Zealand provide a template to action this vision further.


Natural way of giving

“This moment had me reflect on the importance of reciprocity, the natural way of giving and the importance this has on leadership development”

 

Sometimes the greatest learnings come from the places you least expect, during my fellowship journey I have had the privilege of sharing my life journey. One particular instance stands out for me. I recently returned to Okaihau College and shared my journey of being raised in the far north, the adversity that came with my upbringing and the richness of family and connectedness that then saw me travel the world to explore and gain knowledge to bring home. As I returned to my car after my korero I was approached by an elder from the area, he recognised my last name and asked if I was one of the grandchildren of Adelaide from Mangamuka, he shared his stories of taking my nana fish and how she would always give him beautifully woven kete. This moment had me reflect on the importance of reciprocity, the natural way of giving and the importance this has on leadership development.

 

“At the heart of their work it is evident that family, a connectedness to who they are and a natural commitment to caring for others is the driving force to leadership in action”

 

Through this journey I have come across many leaders either in person, through research and through the sharing of stories. The mentorship of Dr Lance O’Sullivan and his wife Tracy O’Sullivan has shown me that leadership is a result of hard work. I have witnessed the leadership of Lance and Tracy as directors and creators of what I believe to be ground breaking innovation that is overcoming health inequalities for our countries most vulnerable communities. At the heart of their work it is evident that family, a connectedness to who they are and a natural commitment to caring for others is the driving force to leadership in action.


“How Courageous are we?”

I am Kohatutaka, Te Uri Mahoe, Ngapuhi and Te Rarawa. As a people we are in a phase of post treaty settlement and at the verge of settlement, Inter Tribal debate and resolution. The time cannot be any more appropriate than now to focus on how we develop leadership of young people now and into the future. We have come too far not to invest in sustainability of our greatest asset, and that is our people. The challenge I believe is how courageous are we? Can we invest in and open the doors to Young People in spaces of Iwi governance, organisational governance and in areas of business and asset growth. My answer is, we cannot afford not to. The reality is that if our young people are not fit to lead then our future sustainability will be grim. How courageous are we to look outside of business as usual and create and action governance and mentoring initiatives that will equip this generation with capability, confidence and courage, to be a growing influence across a range of sectors and regional and national entities. This I believe will create sustainable positive outcomes for our people. Examples of successful initiatives here in New Zealand provide a robust direction towards Youth governance and leadership development. Indigenous leaders Shay Wright and Travis O’Keefe of Te Whare Hukahuka have created Ka Eke Poutama in Taamaki (Auckland) and have recognised that Maori are playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of Taamaki. Treaty settlements are paving the way for greater opportunities and prosperity and empowering the next generation of capable and confident Maori leaders. This is an important next step to ensure successful Organisations and sustainable positive outcomes. A courageous step forward and one that brings together the connected of the past whilst navigating forward, so it is about equipping our young leaders with the innovative thinking needed to navigate our waka into the future.

We should also be brave and open to working across sectors and even more open and brave to explore how we can work with other Iwi to gain collective impact for the development of leadership and growth opportunities.

In closing, our development must happen globally, we cannot afford to be insular in our development and technology enables this to happen. Indigenous structures here and around the world share commonalities’ of inherited structures and the new year will see me explore Silicon Valley in San Francisco to build pathways for the development of Information Technology leadership opportunities. I will also visit Alaska to explore the First Alaskan Institute and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and the Ngai Tahu Research Centre. Continuing to fill my kete with conversations and debates that will pave a journey forward for Intergenerational Leadership Development.