Kohupatiki Marae 


Bringing a mentor and mentee together can be a learning experience for both parties.
 
While the mentor brings a wealth of business and governance expertise to guide the mentee, the mentee, in turn, opens up the mentor’s eyes to new businesses and experiences.
 
No more is this the case than in the relationship between mentor John Worden and Hawke’s Bay Kohupatiki Marae trustees headed by new chairman Matthew Bennett.
 
Kohupatiki marae was one of two marae invited by the Department of Internal Affairs to trial a Business Mentor New Zealand community mentoring programme after identifying a gap for Maori organisations in a previous pilot programme.
 
John was tasked with guiding the marae trustees in how to meet governance criteria for receiving monies due from Waitangi treaty settlements alongside other administrative issues the marae was facing.
 
John had never worked with a Māori organisation before, but went into the relationship conscious that things had to be managed with a tikanga or customs-based focus and also aware that sometimes the Pākehā way of looking at things “might not always gel”.
 
He says he was lucky that the trustees recognised that they needed mentoring in order to reach a good standard of governance before they received their settlement monies.
 
“The trustees were keen to have a mentor and keen to listen, which was good as they were pretty open-minded.”
 
Matthew and the trustees, meanwhile, recognised the need for business expertise in a way they hadn’t before.
 
Over the last 15 years, the marae has been addressing its internal infrastructure, identifying hapū and whānau and deciding what entities would manage treaty settlements and marae activities.
 
 “Every marae around the country needs to be in a state of readiness before they receive treaty settlement funding, “ Matthew says.
 
“They have to be accountable for the money and the method and the way they account for that money and the need to be transparent takes the whole marae management to a different level.”
 
He says that when people don’t have the skills to manage certain things, they need to buy them in.
 
“So for us, the mentoring service was one way we were able to support ourselves, because by and large the bulk of our people don’t serve on boards and don’t have qualifications to be doing budgets and strategic plans.“
 
Being able to “borrow” the services from Business Mentors has been a huge fillip for the marae, he says.
 
“To be able to have someone as competent as John has been a real Godsend in lots of ways because he has that combination of legal nouse and he has also been able to give us direction into our infrastructure and financial structures.
 
“It’s been very good for us.”
 
John too, has enjoyed working within the marae and is impressed with how everyone has come together to meet the challenges.
 
Business mentors are not there to do the job for their mentees, rather they are there to steer them in the right direction, offering perspective, guidance, inspiration, support and advice.
 
“I can provide advice for them about the sort of things they should consider when tackling these different tasks and keeping the trustees up to speed for settlement.”
 
Committees or trust boards gain their required skills by being guided though things in a logical way, which John says is much more effective than having someone write a strategic plan for them and then putting it into the bottom drawer afterwards.
 
“It isn’t really owned by the group then. And the success for them is that they own it  - they built it.”
 
He says there was a whole host of issues that needed to be tackled in a logical order, so getting some shape around that order was important and starting the trustees off and writing a Strategic Plan was part of that.
 
While John ensured the trustees were aware of their legal obligations, he was also guided by Kaumātua who spoke to him about Māori lore (tradition), which is very dominant in a marae.
 
“So when I approach giving advice, I'm very mindful that what I talk about in legal requirements is also sympathetic or linkable to Māori lore as well.
 
“There is the law or legislation that everyone has to adhere to but there’s more to just saying, ‘this is the law’. You need to be sympathetic with how Māori conduct their affairs and see their marae running.”
 
John says gaining acceptance and respect from the group was one of the highlights he gained from working with them.
 
“And getting a sense of the way Māori think about and value their marae and how essential it is to their whole being has been a great learning experience as well and I’ve enjoyed understanding where that fits in.”


Matthew says the whole process would have been a lot more difficult without John.
 
 “Using a mentor has been a very helpful and useful exercise for us and we have been very fortunate that John has given of his time to us so freely. It would be very advantageous if every marae were able to call on someone like him.”
 
Department of Internal Affairs community advisor Sandy Keen says due to the success of the marae mentoring programme DIA and Te Puni Kōkiri are now jointly funding Oranga Marae, a programme that provides support, advice and investment for marae to achieve their goals.
 
“We are currently in contact with BMNZ to see what opportunities exist for the community mentoring programme to support marae in this context,” she says.
 
 
Matthew’s 3 takeaway points to consider
 
Be aware of where you are at and where you are trying to get to.
Lore and Law, how do they differ and which concedes to which and when. Knowing and acknowledging this is a pertinent skill to acquire. As a marae you want to stay as a marae but there are some things that you may want to do which may not quite be tikanga or may be different to how you may practise.
 
Landscape: what does your environment look like and what do you want it to look like? What is Tikanga and how does it express itself, how does it impact and how does it evolve and or change?
 
Review: The world is changing at a fast pace and our rules and practices need to be modernised to fit into the world we live in to keep up to those changes.