"Whatever you do for me, without me, you do to me"

Written by Keri Morris

Too commonly I hear the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi referred to as partnership, protection and participation.  Yet various courts have recognised the principles of the Treaty to include rangatiratanga, reciprocity, partnership, active protection, options, mutual benefit, the right of development, and redress – notions which encompass a much deeper understanding of the full ambit of the principles of the Treaty.

In many ways it’s easy to incorporate the “top three” principles that are not as challenging to our tauiwi behaviours and mindsets.  For example – it is not difficult to work in partnership.  By asking - rather than telling; by working with - rather than instructing.  We have opportunities to collaborate from a tender age when we build sandcastles, share a room with a sibling and then go flatting for the first time.

Protection and participation are also not too much of a hardship if we put our minds to it.  Being ever conscious of the rights of Māori and our legislation which embodies the importance of providing and delivering services in a tikanga process, many of us can be (and are) reflective and desire to learn and engage with Māori; we want to honour the Treaty.

However, truly honouring the Treaty goes further than Pākehā delivering services within a tikanga process.   We need to look wider than Pākehā employing Māori to deliver services within their organisations.  Instead it’s supporting the right of development for Māori to build their businesses.  In many New Zealand business models, the idea of Māori delivering a service that is fully owned and operated for Māori and by Maori - and absent of any Pākehā oversight - is a hard sell.

When we honour Māori rights for development and mutual benefit, we may find ourselves wrestling with the fear that Māori betterment will come at a cost to our business and our bottom line.  If we are truly honest with ourselves, our insecurities and lack of understanding of Te Ao Māori can come rushing to the surface and result in behaviours such as defensiveness, or conscious and unconscious bias.  Rather than working in partnership, we can start to conduct ourselves in ways which could be perceived as protecting our patch.  We need to change our position to one of humble enquiry.

In 2014 the Family Dispute Resolution Act came into force.  Shortly thereafter a review was held, and the recommendation was to commit to Māori whānau being supported by culturally appropriate practitioners.  Again, in May 2019 the Ministry of Justice received strong recommendations and a directive in Te Korowai Ture ā-Whānau to, “…. in partnership with iwi and other Māori, the Court and relevant professionals, …  develop, resource and implement a strategic framework to improve family justice services for Māori”.  This was to include: b) supporting kaupapa Māori services and whānau-centred approaches; and g) providing adequate funding for culturally appropriate FDR processes.

With little palpable change on the horizon, the Māori Approved Dispute Resolution Organisation (“MĀADRO”) just got on and made things happen.  In September 2020 MĀADRO gained accreditation by the Ministry of Justice as an Approved Dispute Resolution Organisation (ADRO). The establishment and subsequent accreditation for MĀADRO is based on a desire and need to provide support to Māori whānau, by Māori, for Māori.

Ngarongo Ormsby, Te Pou Aho Mātua Kaiwhakahaere describes MĀADRO as follows:

“One philosophy about MĀADRO is that is based on the whakapapa pūrākau of the primal parents of Māoridom, Ranginui and Papatūānuku. From this union, the primal parents had a number of atua tamariki. Two are of much interest for MĀADRO which reflect the personalities and dispositions in conflict - harmony; war - peace, they are Tūmatauenga and Rongomātāne. Notwithstanding this, in a Māori world, nothing operates in isolation, they are all very much part of a cohesive, co-existing collaboration. The term, Ko te Aho Mātua alludes to the interconnection to the divine which positions the roles we perform in mediation - hohou rongo is not only generic and clinical, but it is also spiritualised wairuatanga. This is our point of difference.”

The introduction of a Māori ADRO is a shake up in the FDR arena, and it’s a good one. It should be supported and encouraged.  There is a shortage of Māori FDR mediators, Preparation for Mediation Providers and Voice of Child Specialists, and Māori are underrepresented in FDR. Hopefully with a Māori ADRO, more Māori families will have confidence in the FDR process and feel that they can be supported to make decisions for their children.  Perhaps in 2021 we will see a Māori Supplier of FDR services.

As a Pākehā woman there is so much I continue to learn from a Te Ao Māori worldview.  I can learn to speak te reo, I can embrace the concepts of kindness, support and inclusiveness to the benefit of all involved, and incorporate the concepts of whānaungatanga and manaakitanga into my mediation practice and everyday life.  But this is always going to be learned behaviour for me.  I will never be Māori.  Māori are best placed to deliver services to Māori.  I am privileged to learn from my amazing gracious Māori friends.

About the author

Keri Morris - As a mediator, Keri is passionate about empowering parties with coaching and tools to help them move forward.

If you would like to get in touch with Keri, please contact her by email at keri.morris@fairwayresolution.com