Māori women's perspectives of leadership and wellbeing

This article reports the perspectives of five Māori women leaders and relates them to five whakataukī.

Read the article online – By Stacey Ruru, Maree Roche and Waikaremoana Waitoki

Central to the success and wellbeing of these Māori women leaders were:

  • staying close to whānau
  • mentoring the next generation
  • receiving tautoko from others.

The themes in the interviews with these leaders included humility, collectiveness, courage, future orientations and positivity. 

The researchers relate these themes through five whakataukī:  

Kāore te kūmara e kōrero mō tōna reka

The kūmara does not speak of its sweetness.

Ēhara tāku toa i te takitini, he toa takitahi

My success would not be bestowed onto me alone, as it was not individual success but success of a collective.

Pātua i te taniwha o te whakamā

Don’t let shyness overcome you.

Piki kau ake te whakāro pai, hauhake tōnu iho

When a good thought springs up, it is harvested, a good idea should be used immediately.

He ōranga ngākau, he pikinga waiora

Positive feelings in your heart will enhance your sense of self-worth.

These whakataukī describe qualities and behaviours such as:

  • hūmarie, or humility
  • connecting to others to build individual and group mana
  • standing up for what you believe in 
  • acting on new ideas to develop a pathway for future generations
  • maintaining emotional, spiritual and family waiora.


Ruru, S. Roche, M. Waitoki, W. (2017). Māori women’s perspectives of leadership and wellbeing. Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing: Te Mauri – Pimatisiwin, Vol 2:1

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