I am convinced that traditional Maori leadership styles of the past can still influence Maori voting behaviours today.

Concepts and notions of power and authority are largely inherited through many generations of Maori people.

You see, what Maori invest belief of power in nowadays has changed but why they invest it has not changed that much at all.

It is an inherited leadership criteria buried deep inside the Maori psyche that goes back to the days when rangatira once ruled the land.

The days where average members of the community would literally sit outside the chief's home waiting for them to return so that they could do things like mediate disputes, confirm a harvesting schedule, conduct a war meeting or negotiate peace.


They were the days where rangatira were the functions and institutions that we now know to be the court systems, the regulatory bodies, as well cabinets and committees.

They exercised these powers in a way that was consistent with tikanga and were approved by the people.

Followership was invested in the guy that could deliver for those people, through their leadership, the highest possible quality of life.

They used a mechanism to quality-control their leaders and the decisions they made which was comprised of concepts such as visibility, access as well as direct and indirect involvement in daily affairs.

Nowadays, we still call this "kanohi-kitea" (a face seen) and in the consideration and conduction of our affairs, this we call, "kanohi-ki-te-kanohi" (face-to-face).

No Maori invests their followership into a person whom they deem untrustworthy, unaccountable or irrelevant to their lives - and I suspect that they are not the only ones either.

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19 Jun, 2017 1:48pm
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It is simply not enough that a Maori voter might occasionally see your face during the first 10 minutes of the nightly news reports - a leader actually needs to be visible in their daily lives to be considered relevant (and the keyword here really is "daily").

They have to be able to believe that they have direct access to their leaders, both formally and informally. And yes - that does mean turning up to all of the tangi, showing face at nana Mere's 80th birthday, refereeing the iwi rugby tournament, being the MC at the school prizegiving and still finding time to pick up that tea towel in the kauta.

Maori voters have to feel like you are directly accountable to them, that they will see you at the next marae hui and can have the opportunity to tell you how happy or unhappy they are about that thing that you did that time.

So to this year's Maori electorate candidates I say, 1. Ensure that your face is in my view, 2. Your voice is in my ear, 3. Your name is on my lips.

Do this - and I might remember you when the time comes to pick up the orange marker in September. Let the race begin.

Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti is the cultural market manager at the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. He has a passion for indigenous New Zealand and hopes to take Maori people and culture to the world.