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 Maori 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 Maori; we want to honour the Treaty.
However, truly honouring the Treaty goes further than Pakeha delivering services within a tikanga process. We need to look wider than Pakeha employing Maori to deliver services within their organisations. Instead it’s supporting the right of development for Maori to build their businesses. In many New Zealand business models, the idea of Maori delivering a service that is fully owned and operated for Maori and by Maori - and absent of any Pakeha oversight - is a hard sell.
When we honour Maori rights for development and mutual benefit, we may find ourselves wrestling with the fear that Maori 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 Maori 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 Maori whanau being supported by culturally appropriate practitioners. Again, in May 2019 the Ministry of Justice received strong recommendations and a directive in Te Korowai Ture a-Whanau to, “…. in partnership with iwi and other Maori, the Court and relevant professionals, … develop, resource and implement a strategic framework to improve family justice services for Maori”. This was to include: b) supporting kaupapa Maori services and whanau-centred approaches; and g) providing adequate funding for culturally appropriate FDR processes.
With little palpable change on the horizon, the Maori Approved Dispute Resolution Organisation (“MAADRO”) just got on and made things happen. In September 2020 MAADRO gained accreditation by the Ministry of Justice as an Approved Dispute Resolution Organisation (ADRO). The establishment and subsequent accreditation for MAADRO is based on a desire and need to provide support to Maori whanau, by Maori, for Maori.
Ngarongo Ormsby, Te Pou Aho Matua Kaiwhakahaere describes MAADRO as follows:
“One philosophy about MAADRO is that is based on the whakapapa purakau of the primal parents of Maoridom, Ranginui and Papatuanuku. From this union, the primal parents had a number of atua tamariki. Two are of much interest for MAADRO which reflect the personalities and dispositions in conflict - harmony; war - peace, they are Tumatauenga and Rongomatane. Notwithstanding this, in a Maori world, nothing operates in isolation, they are all very much part of a cohesive, co-existing collaboration. The term, Ko te Aho Matua 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 Maori 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 Maori FDR mediators, Preparation for Mediation Providers and Voice of Child Specialists, and Maori are underrepresented in FDR. Hopefully with a Maori ADRO, more Maori 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 Maori Supplier of FDR services.
As a Pakeha woman there is so much I continue to learn from a Te Ao Maori 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 whanaungatanga and manaakitanga into my mediation practice and everyday life. But this is always going to be learned behaviour for me. I will never be Maori. Maori are best placed to deliver services to Maori. I am privileged to learn from my amazing gracious Maori friends.