BERL Wānanga

He hōnore, he korōria

He maungārongo ki te mata o te whenua

He whakaaro pai ki ngā tangata katoa

Pai Mārire. 


There are two quotes which in effect sets the context for the contribution I am about to make. The first is taken from my ancestor Tāwhiao when he said; 

“Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati, ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati” 

“When a reed stands alone it can easily break, but when bound together it is unbreakable” 

The metaphor speaks to a collective endeavour, or collectivism as a foundation for well-being. The kākaho is the stem of the toetoe used in times of old for purposes such as lining for whare or thatching. The imagery of transforming what would otherwise be a humble rākau through purposeful utilisation reinforces the message of transforming wellbeing. 

The other quote is from one of my favourite poets Maya Angelou who reflected; 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” 

The notion of well-being while traditionally measured through a range of indicators at its very core, well-being is a measure that innate and personal to what one values or feels should be valued according to their context and world view.  

The conversation you have been invited to join challenges us to consider a different context from which we might reset our compass about what is important, really important to transform lives and the way we act towards a future that is determined to measure prosperity in a very different way. 

As Minister for Local Government and Māori Development, there are some synergies that bring this conversation together even though the context and starting points are at very different places. 

Take Local Government a sector defined by statute with roles and functions mandated by Government with very little capability to deliver to Māori aspiration beyond a mandate of community defined priorities and services or treaty mandated processes. 

And then there is Māori Development which is underpinned by a world view founded in cultural norms, customs and practices, defined by language and mātauranga māori. 

But both portfolios intersect when we start to envisage how we might set our sails and steer towards intergenerational wellbeing as a nation.

As a policy framework, the Living Standards Framework is attempting to do something courageous and really important. It is trying to break out and look beyond GDP as the measure of our national wellbeing. If we can achieve this (and I believe we can) we will begin to feel that our nation is different because finally we know who we are and what really matters. The emphasis on the four capitals enable a more holistic approach considering wellbeing and prosperity. 

The Living Standards Framework should represent the values and aspirations of our country and in my view the living embodiment of what the Treaty of Waitangi envisaged for all citizens and Māori as indigenous peoples in particular. The indigenous component of the framework has real potential to shift the type of conversation that policy makers can lead towards a long-term vision, prioritising investment, committing to integrated solutions and focusing on outcomes that improve well-being and share prosperity.

Te Puni Kōkiri is working with Treasury with this objective in mind. 



Very soon a discussion paper which offers a te ao Māori perspective on the Living Standards Framework will be released.  

Rather than build the proposition for change because our Government accepts that things need to be done differently, we are inviting further input and consideration around what this approach would lead to. 

  • How will policy makers change the emphasis from projects and initiatives to system wide impact?
  • What do intergenerational outcomes look like?
  • What would we seek to measure?
  • Who would do this?
  • What place or measure would be attributed to connectedness – language, culture, identity and maatauranga? 

Intergenerational well-being is embedded in te ao Māori. 

Go to any marae or hui in the country and you will speakers talk about “taonga tuku iho” – “the treasures handed down to us by our ancestors.” And the future-facing version of this which is “Mō ngā uri kei te heke mai nei”” – “for the descendants that come after us”.

Tā Tipene O’Regan says the responsibilities of Iwi and Māori businesses are to serve “the shareholder who never dies”. 

He goes on to says “The basic task of an Iwi economy is different and distinct from the economy it sits within. It has a multi-generational time horizon and thus a fundamentally different requirement from its capital. It must produce wealth over the long term and not just for the generation in which it finds itself.” 

In addition the wealth created by iwi and Māori organisations is never profit for profit’s sake – the collective wealth created by iwi and Māori is reinvested back in to its people and the environment. 

The idea of intergenerational wealth is very much the norm in te ao Māori. But wealth has a much broader base than material aspects.


My officials have looked at existing models from te ao Māori and received input from groups as BERL, the Māori Economic Development Advisory Board which Robin Hapi chairs and academic trailblazers such as Professor Sir Mason Durie and Associate Professor Dr Manuka Henare.  

The work TPK is undertaking with Treasury contends that the cultural settings and systems that led to Māori wellbeing - any framework for measuring wellbeing in Aotearoa needs an indigeneity lens. 

Their rationale for this is that policies and interventions have been, and will continue to be, ineffective unless decision-makers understand how wellbeing is understood and aspired to by Māori.

The application of an indigenous lens allows the Living Standards Framework to be better tailored for Māori and our country as a whole. 

Māori are a youthful population, and will play an increasingly important role in supporting an ageing population in the years to come. We are challenged to change the conversation up because a wellbeing frame that transforms outcomes for Māori will cut through a legacy of negative statistics. 

Importantly if we start with Māori, the model could be a touchstone for other peoples that make up the fabric of New Zealand.   

This thinking is still at an early stage, and will continue to develop alongside the work being done by the Treasury. 



The Government’s commitment to a broad agenda of wellbeing has been reinforced by the intention to reinstate the requirement on local government to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of communities.

There is a shared role for central and local government when it comes to wellbeing.  Local government plays a key and important role in community development.

The four wellbeing domains – social, economic, environmental and cultural- have recently been reintroduced into the Purpose clause of the Local Government Act.

Alignment between the living standards framework and the role of Local Government to contribute towards the four well beings is a significant opportunity.  

Central government by its very nature is limited in its ability to have impact on peoples’ everyday lives and the way people and place connect at a local level.

Aggregate indicators disguise where there is significant disparity within regions – a concern raised with me by local government. 

Local government are in a position to recognise and capture the sub-regional profiles and disparities within single regions, giving us a richer set of data and a more accurate picture of our communities.  

Integrating the two frameworks will need to go deeper than a superficial mapping exercise across the central government and local government-led spheres of wellbeing. 

There are already examples of local government leaning into the social issues that cause distress in our communities and rethinking their role in their community’s wellbeing. 

For example, Hutt City Council is working alongside central government on integrated social housing proposals. 

The Southern Initiative in South Auckland creates and supports innovative social change.

It identifies local change-makers, encourages social enterprise, builds community capability and amplifies community-driven initiatives. 

There is scope to work in partnership with local government to find a way to utilise our respective wellbeing frameworks to deliver better outcomes for our people. 

Recognising our distinct identity and values by embedding Te Ao Māori into the Living Standards Framework is key.

So is understanding what ‘wellbeing’ is and means to all of our communities our whānau and hapū.

And bringing together the respective strengths of central government, local government and iwi/Māori to intergenerational wellbeing.   

This government is well-positioned to consider how our two levels of government can and should work together to deliver intergenerational wellbeing.

Specifically what role and function local government and te ao Māori can play in the future wellbeing of our country.

The challenge ahead for us is how best to achieve this. 

We need to bring local government and Māori into the conversation early and it’s an evolving conversation.

To help design and shape what intergenerational wellbeing looks like for their communities and the role they can play in partnership with central government.