Wāhine Māori and private business: Why are the participation rates for wāhine Māori so low in leadership positions within the private sector?

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Pukepuke, Michelle
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Business
Unitec Institute of Technology
Keelan, Josie
Rainsbury, Liz
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
private sector
public sector entities
Māori women
engagement with Māori
kaupapa Māori research
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Pukepuke, M. (2021). Wāhine Māori and private business: Why are the participation rates for wāhine Māori so low in leadership positions within the private sector? (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business). Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand. https://hdl.handle.net/10652/5519
This thesis examines wāhine Māori in leadership and specifically, their engagement with positions in the private sector. The main purpose of this research was to understand the influences on their decision-making in terms of leadership choices, which in turn would identify a rationale for the disproportionately low levels of leadership participation in the private sector when compared to those of the public sector and self-employment. Qualitative research methods were utilized in this study including interviews, recordings and researcher/participant correspondence. This was conducted with ten wāhine Māori all holding current leadership positions, with five from each sector of private and public. Participants discussed their early influences and upbringings, factors that had shaped their career choices and provided insight into their experiences and challenges within their leadership positions. The overarching research philosophy encompassing this study was kaupapa Māori methodology, honouring the values of whānau, wāhi haumaru, whakaaro, kaitiaki and hononga. From the findings it is suggested that wāhine Māori are identifying the public sector space as providing them the vehicle to meet their career objectives, which were overwhelmingly focused on making a positive impact and valuable contribution to te ao Māori. It appears the private sector is not considered conducive with these values and aspirations and is therefore being overlooked. One matter definitively identified throughout this study is that lack of participation in the private sector is not due to factors such as a lack of competence and capabilities, but rather due to the personal choice of wāhine Māori and decisions made to disregard this sector. This research identifies significant issues for wāhine Māori when engaging in leadership roles in the private sector, predominantly related to a sense of compromising cultural identity and values. Also presented in this study is an opportunity for an evaluation of the private sector to determine its value to the capacity building of te ao Māori and to develop strategies for participation of wāhine Māori to be reprioritised. To be successful this must be positioned from a Māori perspective as the factors identified within this research are specifically te ao Māori issues and cannot be addressed adequately without this valuable discernment.
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