Indigenous Teachings on Unity and Purpose

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I was raised in a small rural community called Harataunga/Kennedy’s Bay in the Coromandel region of New Zealand.  My siblings and I were nurtured in our traditional Māori (Indigenous peoples of New Zealand) values, language, practices and customs.

As I transition in to my online journey I have pondered much on our most sacred practice of mourning the deceased or tangihanga and how its fundamental principles promote sound business practice. 

For Māori in New Zealand each tribe and sub-tribe have a meeting place or marae where they gather to celebrate various occasions.  In the case of this article I will look particularly at the roles, responsibilities of the people at a tangihanga/funeral.

Upon the death of a relative, news is spread fast to members of the tribe no matter where they are situated in New Zealand and the world.  Immediately phone calls will be made to the meeting place where the hau kainga/local community is situated and all arrangements will be made to welcome or care for the deceased and his/her immediate family.  All of the community who will arrive at the marae will have their special roles and responsibilities. 

  • Hunters and gatherers, generally men (but not exclusive to), will go out to sea, bush and farm to collect food for the visitors.
  • The women will cook (there are some great male cooks at home) the meals in the kitchen
  • The elders will undertake the formal proceedings of the pōhiri/welcome in the Wharenui/Ancestral House.
  • The kids run around, play and eat all day

From my experience there are three main purposes that a tangihanga/funeral processes serve.

  • To relieve the whānau pani/immediate family of the burdens; financial, catering and set up so they can fully grieve for their loss.
  • To cater and care for all of the visitors that come to pay their respects to the deceased.  So much so that the pride of your tribe is on the line. 
  • To work together as a family towards a common goal 

Successful business practices

  • A company should provide a meaningful solution for a problem much like the community working to eliviate the burdens of the grieving family and to serve the visitors 
  • When the purpose is understood and valued by all of its constituents, movement towards that goal is unwavering.  Yes there maybe set backs and hurdles on the way but everyone works relentlessly to fulfill the purposes above.
  • Due to the purposes above and the family you are working with every member is held accountable and feels valued, unless they are not contributing.  If this is the case then they may be told to go home!  

The benefits of this type of process are many, they are embedded in the fabric of the people, in the cultural practices handed down from generation to generation.  Building this type of culture in your business increases the possibility of success and longevity which could ultimately add to the progress of humanity     

"Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora te manuhiri"

"With your food basket and my food basket the visitors will be satisfied" 

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