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The true meaning of Kaupapa Maori

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The true meaning of Kaupapa Maori

OPINION: While watching the fabulous waiata and haka at Te Matatini, I thought about the vicious debate over “what’s Kaupapa Māori?” that took place last week.

I don’t think anyone would disagree with me that Matatini is one of the most perfect examples of Kaupapa Māori, positive young disciplined Māori performing for their Iwi, Hapū and whānau, and winning Māori hearts with so much pride in their efforts.

Some may disagree though with another view that I have of Kaupapa Māori because for me, it can be the solution to much of the damage the free market has cuased our communities and wider society. Instead of the ‘me first, me first’, mantra of the market, the communal values of Kaupapa Māori calls for a holistic view of the individual and their place within the group.

Kaupapa Māori is a way to value each and every person in New Zealand while ensuring the basic question of their welfare is central to any decision making process. The way our welfare state has been eroded into a stich with which to beat the poor is the best example of where Kaupapa Māori could best be applied.

Look at how WINZ are currently attempting to solve the homelessness crisis, people are just being dropped off at motels where their complex problems find no help or any solution.

When Te Puea Marae opened its doors last year to the homeless, Kaupapa Māori dictated their process. It wasn’t enough to find them shelter and food for a couple weeks. They spoke to the families, found out what the issues were and sought solutions to help them access the social services needed.

Simply finding people shelter, food and clothing are the bare necessities of life. Kaupapa Māori demands more than just that, it demands communication and dialogue to identify the true needs of the individual so that they can feel like they have something to offer the whole.

Sadly a Kaupapa Māori approach is missing from a section of Māori leadership, some elitist Iwi leaders have sold out their communal values and adopted a corporate approach when dealing with Iwi members.

The consequences of that strategy has meant that 21 years after the first treaty settlement close to 90 percent of the Māori population have yet to see any benefits from the treaty settlement process.

Holistic and communal values not corporate materialistic values are the essence of Kaupapa Māori and this is missing in too many tribes’ business strategies. We need communal and holistic approaches if we are going to help the 85 percent of Māori who live in urban centres but Kaupapa Māori goes beyond just Māori. It’s a philosophical approach that respects the individual without ignoring the family bonds that strenghten that individual. It’s a way of viewing the world that our current welfare state desperately needs to adopt.

For me, Kaupapa Māori is the new Kiwi socialism with a focus on everyone benefiting from moving forward, not just the some and the few.

Copyright © 2017, UMA Broadcasting Ltd:

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