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July 10, 2016 | by  | in Māori Matters |
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Ngāi Tauira Tumuaki Takirua

Trying to fit a square peg into a round hole is no easy feat and yet we seemed to keep on trying. There are some props deserved for persistence, but at the end of the day insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. For a long time our executive had tried to function using the hierarchical governance models favoured by mainstream organisations, modelling ourselves after them, trying to fit a square peg into a circular hole.

Heoi, ko ia kāhore nei i rapu, tē kitea. And that’s what we did.

After some time considering a way forward in 2015 we designed a new model that embraced our current style of working and tikanga. And so, this year saw Te Whare o Te Kōmiti Whakahaere come into fruition. The purpose of a whare based model was always to emphasise that each member of the executive is reliant on one another, much like every piece of the whare plays an integral role in keeping the whare standing.

But perhaps the most important part of the whare, which we often see neglected in hierarchical models, is the importance of tauira. Tauira are the purpose of the existence of students’ associations. There was no part of the marae that is better suited to represent tauira than the tūāpapa. Our tauira are the foundation that whare stands upon.

Our whare model went one step further. Aside from the key figures that keep our whare standing, we also saw it is important to acknowledge the principles that support us and support our whare. Never before had we included mātauranga, goals and aspirations, and tikanga and te reo as a part of our organisational structure.

We went against the norm and seven months later our whare still stands. Nothing outrageous happened when we decided that mainstream structures weren’t suited for us. And so, when our square peg didn’t fit into the round hole we had a simple solution.

Make some new holes. We should not try and fit with the system, but have the system fit with us.

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