This doctorate thesis The Politics of Iwi Voice focuses on the struggle of a
modern, urban iwi authority to secure political recognition from other iwi and
the Crown as it attempts to assert an independent iwi voice, and exercise
mana and tino rangatiratanga. The responses of the local iwi/Maori
community, the Crown, and others to the re-emergence of the new iwi entity
are critically examined.
The thesis demonstrates how a small iwi group resists attempts to assimilate
into a broader coalition of iwi, hapu, whanau and marae interests, preferring
instead to maintain and develop its own distinctive identity. It uses the iwi
Ngati Tama to exemplify the diaspora of an iwi, and shows how iwi identity
and fortunes are buffeted by both iwi and urban contestations as well as
changing political directions. The study suggests that a Ngati Tama future
away from its homeland will depend primarily on the development of
pragmatic adaptive and innovative strategies, and a fervent resolve to retain a
distinctive identity, while participating in a dynamic and often oppressive
This thesis concludes that to maintain a distinctive iwi presence its members
should have the right to decide who best represents them. An iwi is
considered an appropriate vehicle to represent its members and manage its
interests. In order to survive in a constantly changing environment, an iwi
must be dynamic, flexible, relevant, and meet the needs of its membership.
Further, its leadership should be focused on negotiating relationships in good
faith - including third party interventions - and seeking pathways that will
advance its interests into the future.