Kiri Dell

Dr Kiri Dell (Ngati Porou) is a lecturer in the Graduate School of Management. Having completed her PhD on realising Māori land aspirations, Kiri is working towards her ultimate goal of progressing indigenous entrepreneurship and prosperity.

Whenua BEINGS: Raising the consciousness of Māori landowners.

Whenua BEINGS is a relational engagement strategy that aims to raise the consciousness of Māori regarding their relationships with whānau and whenua. Kiri has developed the framework for this project, which was informed by her PhD research.

Consciousness-raising is an essential prerequisite to realising the potential of an estimated 80% of Māori land that is underused and unproductive. Kiri’s previous research has identified that oppressive systemic processes, colonisation, displacement and trauma are major barriers to the effective management of these lands, most of which are held collectively in kin-groups.

This history has made many current Māori landowners understandably fearful of change, and anxious about the possibility of losing their land. The upshot is a tendency to stick with the status quo rather than envisioning a future where the rewards could far exceed the risks.

Kiri’s first step in the Whenua BEINGS project was to design an anonymous online survey, in association with Associate Professor Michael Lee (Department of Marketing). The survey will be used to collect data from a minimum of 1000 engaged Māori landowners, across up to 25 blocks of land. The survey measures an individual landowner’s relationship with their land, across six dimensions: Belonging, Emotions, Influence, Nourishment, Guardianship and Spirituality.

The survey aims to investigate landowner feelings and attitudes towards their whenua, and to build a knowledge base of the behaviours and feelings that inform decision-making. The knowledge gathered from this research will:

  • Raise the consciousness and awareness of Māori landowners about their relationships and behaviours with each other and their whenua
  • Create greater self-awareness of their emotions around land spaces
  • Explain how people actually behave towards their land spaces and land management decisions

This knowledge will help Māori landowners to better understand the complex issues impacting on Māori land productivity and governance. It will also help entities and governance groups to inform their strategic direction and grow the capabilities of their members.