This thesis examines the location and role of the runanga institution. As a prominent contemporary organization for Maori development, relevant theory locates runanga with regard to a broader developmental framework and their potential to function within it. The position of runanga, as a facilitator of Maori development, is assessed with reference to Dependency theory, World Systems theory and Modes of Production. These theories highlight the systematic historic dis-empowerment of Maori through the processes of colonisation with
particular regard to runanga. The thesis also considers the evolution of the
runanga since its migration from Hawaiki, its utilisation as a forum of colonial
resistance, its co-option into the governmental system and its contemporary
resurgence. This provides a historical overview of the runanga as an institution. In addition, Te Runanga 0 Ngati Whitikaupeka has been used as the case study which considers the issues of becoming a runanga and includes what the structure of the runanga might look like for Ngati Whitikaupeka as an iwi.
The theories of Community Development and Empowerment are offered as means to counter the further dis-empowerment of Maori, where institutions such as runanga can utilise these notions to facilitate positive outcomes for iwi and Maori development. Field research contained in this thesis identifies some of the specific concerns and aspirations of Ngati Whitikaupeka iwi members. In utilising the notions of empowerment and community development the field research provides an explicit statement of Iwi aspirations to maintain the
connection between Ngati Whitlkaupeka Iwi members at the flax-roots and Te Runanga 0 Ngati Whitikaupeka as a representative body that can facilitate those aspirations. Supplementary to this the iwi aspirations that have been identified in this study are intended to provide some direction for the runanga as the representative decision-making body moving into the future.