There is a quiet revolution under way in Māoridom. Wāhine toa are taking the driver's seat in iwi authorities and Māori organisations.
Across the spectrum – governance, management, trustees in pre and post-settlement iwi authorities, hapū, pan-Māori organisations, land trusts and incorporations, even Te Puni Kōkiri — strong Māori women are increasingly in charge.
Both post-settlement juggernauts, Waikato Tainui and Ngāi Tahu, now have women at the helm. Parekawhia McLean chairs the tribal parliament of Waikato-Tainui with Rukumoana Schaafhausen heading the tribal executive Te Arataura, and Donna Flavell chief executive.
Ngāi Tahu is now led by Lisa Tumahai, with chief executive Arihia Bennett in the role for six years.
Auckland-based Ngāti Whātua ki Orākei also has twin wāhine leadership — Marama Royal chairwoman and Rangimarie Hunia chief executive.
Last month the largest iwi, Ngāpuhi, appointed Lorraine Toki as chief executive as it faces the most important moment in its modern-day history, the negotiation of its settlement with the Crown.
And not just iwi authorities. More and more we see powerful women at the top of the Māori economy: the Federation of Māori Authorities' Traci Houpapa, Hinerangi Raumati-Tu'ua chairs Taranaki Parininihi ki Waitotara Incorporation and Kerensa Johnston is the CEO of Nelson-based Wakatū Incorporation.
When it comes to the Government, the Māori development ministry, Te Puni Kōkiri, has long been led by chief executive Michelle Hippolite. Under the new Government, it now has its first female minister, Nanaia Mahuta.
This is a trend not yet mirrored in non-Māori boardrooms and management. A recent Chapman Tripp survey of New Zealand's 75 largest listed companies found little progress on increasing gender diversity across listed boards.
At 23 per cent, the ratio of women directors has changed little in recent years. Even more startling was that there was only one female chief executive in the top 75 companies; and only 9 per cent of chairs are women.
So what is behind this seismic shift within the world of Māori governance and management? Perhaps it's a matter of timing. Iwi are rapidly moving from grievance to development mode, which is attracting a different type of leader.
Māori organisations themselves are also recognising the need to keep striving for excellence in governance and management as well as gender and age diversity in order to succeed and achieve inter-generational goals. They are moving from the more tradition leaders to those with professional qualifications.
A number of the Māori female leaders have spent their formative years in social services along with welfare, health and law. Taking leadership roles allows them to begin tackling the deprivation they have witnessed among their own people.
A "benevolent dictator" style of leadership was needed to get iwi through the brutal settlement process in an Aotearoa that was divided by whether there should even be Treaty settlements at all.
The likes of Sir Robert Mahuta, Tā Tipene O'Regan and Tuhoe's Tamati Kruger were fearless fighters with the mana and self-belief to know what was best for their people long term and recognise the point at which to cut a deal with the Crown.
Ngāpuhi leader Sonny Tau is of this mould, as Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little is no doubt finding out.
Conversely, female leaders often, though not always, have a more collaborative style, bringing parties together in a more democratic fashion, consulting and seeking feedback more often.
They might also have demonstrated more "emotional intelligence" than men or simply be twice as good to get to that level. It says a lot about Māori men that so many support and encourage this emergence of wāhine leadership.
A January 2018 McKinsey & Company report reinforced the link between gender and ethnic diversity with company profitability and value creation. Te ao Māori organisations have both gender and ethnic diversity, so on this measure are well placed for further success.
A key focus for all is to ensure delivery of more effective and meaningful outcomes for our people, two decades on from the first Treaty settlements. Māori woman might well be the competitive advantage. And we are stepping up across Aotearoa, taking a back seat to no one.
• Susan Huria is a partner in Huria Anders and director of Ngāi Tahu Property.