Aspiring Leaders

Photo: Ethan Matuku, Season Blackburn-Kingi and Renata King on the steps of Parliament

The Aspiring Leaders Forum is an incredible opportunity for young leaders to interact with and learn from a diverse group of peers and leaders from this nation. In February 2023 we asked for nominations for young Ngāti Mutunga leaders to attend the forum in Wellington in August. We had a number of quality nominations and we selected three young leaders. Season Blackburn-Kingi, Renata King and Ethan Matuku. Here are some excerpts from each of their nomination application.

“Effective leaders are culturally grounded and draw upon their customary values and principles” – Renata
“Confident Leaders understand their community they engage and interact with their people” – Season
“Great leaders bring people together because the power and mana come from the people, not the leader” – Ethan

We sponsored the attendance for each of our young leaders and they provided us with reports on their experiences at the forum. Below are exerts from their reports.

Te Wānanga Rangatira Tūmanako Aspiring Leaders Forum – Season Blackburn-Kingi

Is leadership something innate or learned?

Māori inherently possess Tino Rangatiratanga in all aspects of our existence; we have the authority to make decisions regarding our own physical, social, cultural matters, and treasures. This forum aided me in recognizing the inherent prestige I hold in every space, and the primary driver of leadership/rangatiratanga is family. Iwi, hapū, and whānau equip rangatahi to navigate and confront challenges while preserving our prestige.

Over the course of four days, we explored various locations and engaged with delicate environments. This encounter closely mirrored the creation narrative, delving into concepts like te kore, Te Po, ki Te Ao Marama. It symbolizes the shift from darkness, the realm of existence, to the world of enlightenment. At the outset of this Forum, there were no preconceived notions about this event, nor any awareness that it was rooted in faith and religion. We find ourselves deeply immersed in a state of Te Kore, a state of unrealized potential. The opportunity to absorb new information and simply be present was a genuine sensation that compelled us to soak up the wealth of knowledge surrounding us.

Aspiring Leaders Forum – Ethan Matuku

A key speaker for me was Jehan Casinader, who spoke on mental health, which deeply resonated with me. He discussed how we shape our own story and how our perspective on life informs our mental health.

Our hauora is crucial; we cannot help others if our own hauora is off balance. When applying this to my future leadership endeavours, it will give me an understanding of the importance of mental health. The concept of a cup overflowing was a good analogy; I must look after myself so my own success overflows into the lives of my whanau, and my leadership should come from a place of abundance. Overall, this forum has significantly changed my worldview, for which I am deeply appreciative. I am excited to use the wisdom I learned from the speakers to benefit and support my Iwi.

Aspiring Leaders Forum – Renata King

After we were toured around the Beehive in our small groups, we made our way to Parliament’s dining hall where we were spoken to by Dame Cindy Kiro. The main points I took from her speech was to meet the moment, and to have the leadership ready to deal with what that moment could possibly bring. She taught me that change happens to us and because of us. She spoke on how leadership is the art of manipulation, which is trying to get everyone aligned and working towards the same goal – which people call ‘influencing’. Dame Cindy Kiro had so many valuable things to say and I am very honored to have had the opportunity to be able to hear Her Excellency speak on what her values are and what servant leadership means to her.

Our Future

We have some amazing young leaders in our iwi and in 2024 you will see more opportunities arise for our young leaders. Thank you to Ethan, Season and Renata for sharing of themselves and their experiences and we look forward to seeing your growth over the coming years.

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