From the CEO

Jul 16, 2013

Chief Executive Officer,arihia2
Te Rūnanga O Ngāi Tahu,
Arihia Bennet

Mā mua ka kite a muri,
Mā muri ka ora a mua.
Those who lead give sight to those who follow,
Those who follow give life force to those ahead.

At Hui-ā-Iwi in November last year, kaumātua were treated to a delightful High Tea event hosted by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. Among the waiters was the kaiwhakahaere who donned an apron and displayed skills in tea pouring that could have landed him a job at The Ritz.

Fast forward to May 2013, where we joined the same waiter – now formally known as Tā Mark Solomon – and his whānau at Takahanga Marae to celebrate his knighthood. A crowd of about 500 descended upon Takahanga to honour Tā Mark’s remarkable achievements. Their presence was evidence of the relationships that he has woven across all spheres of the community. As I listened to the tributes, I thought of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great and how Tā Mark has developed a leadership style based on professional will and personal humility.

We live in a fast-paced society where we are constantly looking for ways to preserve our own history while positioning ourselves for the future. There is no time to sit around and navel gaze, and working alongside Tā Mark at this time is indeed a treat.

By observing Tā Mark and the many other wise people who support me with my mahi, I am quickly learning to traverse the world of tribal politics. At times the ability to step back and reflect or draw on wise professional advice is necessary, and I guarantee the best counsel will always be found by those closest to you, usually within your home.

For me the art of leadership in a tribal context is like the tango – no matter what the steps are, I always need to find balance and I cannot do it on my own. There will be constant challenges and I must be prepared to confront brutal facts and create an environment where the truth is heard. The next step is to seek solutions grounded in compassion and goals that produce harmony.

Just as the tango – with its technical complexity and intensity driven by passion and emotion – is not for the faint-hearted, continuing to achieve direct results, develop our people and nurture Ngāi Tahu values is not the effort of one alone, but that of a team consciously choosing to follow a leader.

I look forward to the next steps on the dance floor…