Ki te Hoe – Funders Supporting Māori Aspirations: An overview

October 29, 2020


Background and summary

Philanthropy NZ (PNZ) recognises that philanthropic funders and grantmakers are still learning about how to engage well with Iwi/Māori and how to provide funding in a mana-enhancing way.  While there is an increasing awareness among funders of the importance of this, funders are often not clear what practical steps  to take as they embark on this journey.

PNZ has asked Marcus Akuhata-Brown, Haimona Waititi and Kate Frykberg to investigate what would be helpful to, “build the capacity and capability of funders to engage and support Māori aspirations in a mana enhancing way.”   This involves a series of focus groups to identify what will be most helpful, the creation of a framework or “constellation” of relevant capacity building opportunities, and for at least one of these opportunities to be fully scoped and piloted.

The project is called Ki te Hoe – Funders supporting Māori aspirations. “Ki te hoe” loosely translates to “let’s get going” and is a reflection of the enthusiasm for this work that has been expressed by both funders and kaupapa Māori organisations receiving funding.   The following is a summary from Marcus, Haimona and Kate of the project approach.

Key principles underpinning this Mahi

  • Fits within the wider context of nation-building: In 20 years we will celebrate the 200-year anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and we are overdue for figuring out who we are as a nation, how we honour Te Tiriti and how we build mana-enhancing relationships based on respect and understanding.  Funder relationships with Iwi/Māori are a small but important piece of this larger puzzle.
  • Relationships before resources: When thinking about how funders engage with Iwi/Māori, opening minds and hearts and building mana-enhancing relationships should come first, funding comes later.
  • The process isn’t linear and one size doesn’t fit all: Some funders have hardly started this journey, others are well down the track – and still others may think they are at a different point on the journey to where they actually are!  We therefore suggest developing an overall framework for capacity building that is flexible and not necessarily linear.  We also propose identifying the most important “missing link” currently and developing this into a specific capacity development module ready for piloting.
  • Collaboration with and adaptation by Mana Whenua: Some capacity-building opportunities may be in-house for a specific funder, others might cater to several funders in a region. In either case, capacity-building opportunities need to be flexible to ensure that Mana Whenua have opportunities for input and co-facilitation, if they wish.
  • Co-creation: This proposal is centred on a co-creation process where stakeholders can have input into how capacity development can be delivered.


Challenges to address

Here are some of the things we have heard funders and kaupapa Māori organisations say which we would like to address in capacity building:

What funders say: What kaupapa Māori organisations say:
·  “We hardly ever receive applications from Māori organisations – we don’t know where to start” ·“We don’t know who they are and they don’t know us – why bother applying?”
· “We collect lots of information in our application processes so our trustees can make strategic grant-making decisions” ·“Trying to repackage our aspirations to tick their boxes and fit their world-view is not a mana-enhancing way of working”
·“As staff we have good relationships and see some fabulous initiatives – but often our board doesn’t really understand them and then the funding request is declined” ·“We put in all this effort and got turned down anyway.   Why is the decision-making power with the people who don’t have the relationships and understanding?”
· “We have Mana Whenua and Tangata Whenua on our staff and board, but we tiptoe round each other, we don’t have the honest conversations” ·“Even when our people get appointed to funding organisations, it seems to be hard for them to make much impact”

Our plan is to explore these and other challenges with key stakeholders and then co-design capacity development opportunities to honestly explore and effectively resolve issues like those above.


1.Deep dive with PNZ to review and refine scope, process and possibilities.

2. Co-creation with key stakeholders. This will be a series of zoom-based focus groups with the people most closely affected by this mahi.  Focus groups will explore questions like what mana-enhancing relationship and funding look like, the opportunities and obstacles to achieving this, suggestions for content, suggestions for tailoring to different levels of understanding, and suggestions for how to make this as appealing as possible for those who need it most.  Online focus groups will be held with:

  • Māori Advisory Committee of PNZ
  • Kaupapa Māori organisations and communities receiving funding
  • Trustees and managers from funding organisations
  • A co-creation process for refining identified needs and opportunities

3.Weaving this input into a coherent and useful overall capacity-building framework.

4. Selecting the most significant unmet need currently, and scoping a practical and appealing capacity development opportunity around this

5. Sense-checking and refining with PNZ and interested stakeholders

6. Detailed planning of the capacity development opportunity identified above so it is ready for piloting.


At the end of this process PNZ will have:

  • A co-created framework for building funder capacity to support Māori aspirations in a mana-enhancing way. The Treaty training sessions PNZ offered in mid-2020 (which are still available to watch via webinar) are part of this framework, with pathways developed to complement and lead on from this.
  • At least one capacity building opportunity will be fully scoped and ready for pilot. This will be based on the most significant need identified currently.

We’d love to hear from you….

If you’ve got questions; would like to stay updated on this programme; or wish to register interest in or support for this training, please email