Recently I completed my first year provisional PhD proposal—and I nailed it (if I can be so bold to toot my own horn). I am still awaiting the call from Ted Talks. My primary goal was to give a presentation that was not the stock-standard boring academic droll. Unfortunately, my unicorn slide didn’t go down too well with my supervisors. Yet, despite ditching a few of the creative slides (and hilariously witty lines), it turns out I still achieved my goal, even if for different reasons.
The audience were listening, they seemed interested to see where I would take this, but mostly they were confused. My topic is seen by some as a little unconventional for a mainstream academic economic faculty: intention, synchronicity, ancestral landscapes…and business. During my presentation, one of the faculty lecturers leaned in and whispered: “I’m surprised they let this through in the business school!” This made my day. Far from shying away from the sceptical and baffled looks around the room, I revelled in the fact that this crazy talk indeed had been given the green light.
That our business school is open to such alternative worldviews is a great progression. And we owe a lot to our predecessors who have lead the way, fighting for Indigenous worldviews, spirituality, and alternative economies to be seen as valid forms of research and practice. Within our own Business School, we have fantastic scholars who have had to eke out their own ground and create space for a Māori voice. They have laid our path and our KIN group is testament to the rise of the recognition of Indigenous economies within the academic institution. Not to mention the wealth of work that has been carried out in other fields such as education and anthropology from which we borrow many of the constructs.
The other group I owe a lot to, is that of my KIN whānau, the up and coming academics who are following in the footsteps of those who came before. At my presentation, the room was full of friendly faces smiling back at me (and not just because I told them too). I felt the aroha, whanaungatanga, manaakitanga from a readymade rent-a-crowd who have my back. And what’s more—they seem to understand what it is I say I am doing…
To summarise, each tangata as a product of whānau, whakapapa, and whenua; a manifestation of peoples’ involvement, both present and past, over time. It is the will of my tūpuna that has chosen my path; it is the will of those who came before that paved the way; it is the will of my current cohort that we progress as whānau; and it is our will that brings the future into being.
Whakapapa is the life-blood of all people; both literally and metaphorically. Knowledge of who we are because of those we come from gives us history, identity, and connections to people, lands and Gods. Through whakapapa, the unbroken chain of past, present and future becomes visible and real. While the tapestry of self is unique to each new expression of whakapapa, it nonetheless owes part of its shades and hues to those who wove its beginnings. (Lily George, 2010, pp. 243–244)