The Connected space of Māori governance: towards an indigenous conceptual understanding.
Theoretical understanding of governance is almost entirely based on non-indigenous epistemology. Despite Māori (along with other indigenous peoples) having robust intellectual and cultural frameworks to understand governance; substantive research into understanding governance from within indigenous culturally generated frameworks is almost non-existent. Instead, non-indigenous understanding of governance within governance theory is promulgated as the starting and end points of governance; subsequently then unilaterally globally applied to indigenous people, such as Māori. Consequently, Māori culturally generated values, principles and concepts are relegated to mere ancillary importance, being restricted within non-indigenous governance frameworks. Alternatively, governance is portrayed as a procedural outcome of equivalence translation, of non-Māori governance concepts into Māori conceptual space. In rejecting these existing formulations and framing of Māori governance, this research instead undertook a two-stage process, to purposely seek a distinctly Māori cultural perspective of governance. Firstly, use of Kaupapa Māori theory allowed an intellectual space to engage Mātauranga Māori [Māori knowledge]. The second stage invoked Whakapapa (the key basis of Mātauranga Māori) to conceptualise governance from within the creation realms of Te Pō, Te Ao Mārama and Te Kore. These realms represent a essential whakapapa [genealogy] within Mātauranga Māori. They signify the source of all that is, containing the principles, values and elements that forms a Māori understanding of life and of human knowledge. The conclusion reached is that whakapapa is in fact the implicit and fundamental basis of Māori society and its source of governance. Being a broader concept than just genealogy, whakapapa defines an encompassed whole; a system of connection through multifarious, complex and inclusive relationships storing knowledge and wisdom, simultaneously binding past, present and future, enabling deeper understanding of the world. Whakapapa represents conceptual, actual and ideal states, as without whakapapa, nothing can, could or does exist. This research has made explicit that the foundation of Māori society, whakapapa, is the Māori expression of governance. Governance is thus by implication not created and founded solely on western cultural understanding; it is innate to humanity and simultaneously exists across all peoples. Indigenous conceptions of governance are therefore equally legitimate forms of governance. In revealing a distinctly Māori but hitherto implicit governance, this thesis highlights a basis for a culturally grounded and tested indigenous Māori form of governance.... [Show full abstract]