Māori high achievers celebrate high performance at Nga Pūmanawa ki Pūrehuroa

High achievers from a range of fields gathered to celebrate the success of Māori high performers at Nga Pūmanawa ki Pūrehuroa, a Māori high-performance seminar hosted by Massey University in October- the first of its kind.

Māori involved at the highest levels of their field, whether it was sport, music or business, met to discuss the success factors that set Māori high performers apart and how to support the communities that make it possible. Event organiser Luke Rowe, of Massey’s school of Māori knowledge, said there was a lot of positive discussion.

“It’s about celebrating high performance in Māori roles, whether it be kapa haka, music, business and of course sport. It’s shifting that traditional deficit narrative into the thriving and flourishing space. In each space we’re highlighting some of the key elements and ingredients to succeeding, thriving and excelling.”

Rowe said the day also celebrated things that sometimes go unnoticed, such as haka, hongi or waiata.

“There’s a real purpose to those particular treasures, those taonga.”

A sports psychologist, Rowe said there was something special about the way Māori tapped into an extra dimension in high performance sport. He also acknowledged that while it came naturally to many, it was also the result of cultivated high performance environments and support people.

“In my own sense, working across a range of high-performance sport environments, is that we need to better acknowledge the contribution our cultural practices and principles have made to sports generally in Aotearoa New Zealand, and how that will evolve”

Sport Manawatū chief executive and former boxer Trevor Shailer was one of the speakers and he talked about his experience as a top athlete. Shailer, who boxed at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the 1994 Victoria, Canada, Commonwealth Games, later joined the Māori advisory group for the New Zealand Olympic team.

Other speakers were Māori musician and founder of Trinity Roots, Warren Maxwell; Central Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie, Māori broadcaster Stacey Morrison, IronMāori founder and Māori health champion Heather Skipworth; Manukura founding principal and Māori educationalist Nathan Durie; and former Black Ferns rugby captain, Farah Palmer.

Head of Massey’s school of Māori knowledge, Meihana Durie, said ​elements of Māori high-performance sport were directly transferable to high performance in Māori education, health, performing arts, broadcasting and Whānau Ora. He hoped the findings of the seminar would contribute to further research about Māori potential.