Philanthropy can help restore the power and dignity of Indigenous Peoples and their cultures, but it takes more than writing cheques, having meetings and making the right noises
‘He aha te mea nui o te ao, he tāngata, he tāngata he tāngata’ – ‘What is the most important thing in this world, it is people, people, people.’ (Māori whakatauakī/proverb).
Māori are tangata whenua – the Indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand. As a Māori man chairing the board of a family foundation, I find myself in a very exclusive club. At the end of 2018, I was elected as the first Māori chair of the J R McKenzie Trust which also meant that I was the first Māori chair of a family foundation in Aotearoa. The very fact that this didn’t occur until 2018 might seem anomalous to those who see this country as a trailblazer when it comes to the advancement and recognition of Indigenous rights and freedoms.