Performing at the whare tapere at Waimangō, Wharekawa, Hauraki, 2011

Performing at the whare tapere at Waimangō, Wharekawa, Hauraki, 2011


Kia tohungia tātou, ka tohungia,
Kia kawea tātou, ka kawea.
We are marked by inspiration, we are marked,
We are taken by inspiration, we are taken.

I love being creative. I love to discover things - particularly ideas and expressions of various kinds. It has always been in me to look for new possibilities. I am constantly inspired by imagination and motivated by a desire to share my discoveries with others. Whether I am composing music or stories, or discovering new understandings and perspectives within indigenous knowledge, or providing advice and support to projects and teams, I approach each from a ‘creative’ point of view and creativity underpins everything I do.

I love to sit at the piano to explore and discover musical ideas and expressions. This might be a melody, a texture or a mood. It might also include weaving these musical elements into a beautiful whole. I also love the way music can completely transform a place or of somebody or event. Music is magical like this.

I also love to explore indigenous knowledge, histories and traditions to discover new perspectives and understandings that I had not grasped previously. I love how indigenous knowledge continually surprises and delights me and expands my understanding of life.

Finally, when it comes to leadership, my approach is about realising the potential of any given situation and enabling positive change. I am really ambitious for the projects and teams that I am involved with. I have never been interested in merely maintaining what already exists but rather I am constantly searching for what is possible. I do this by getting to the bottom of things, to understand why we are doing something and to create even better understandings. Sound and in-depth thinking inspires decisive and high quality action. 

I am inspired by creativity and I am driven by a desire to give expression to my creative imagination. I love to share this with others so that they may be moved, uplifted and transformed just as I was.


During a whare tapere at Waimangō, Wharekawa, Hauraki, 2014

During a whare tapere at Waimangō, Wharekawa, Hauraki, 2014

Indigeneity is another important dimension of me and my work. I am both Māori and Pākehā (New Zealand European) and am equally proud of both these aspects of my heritage. A good deal of my work is about:

... realising the creative potential of the Māori dimension of Aotearoa-New Zealand - particularly through arts, education and cultural leadership - to positively contribute to Māori communities, the nation and to the world.

The indigenous Māori dimension of Aotearoa-New Zealand is an enormous treasure that is able to bring about amazing contributions to our nation. There is so much to discover and I have had a lifelong passion to explore this creative depth and give it expression through my music and stories, through my teaching, writing and research and through leading projects and teams in various ways.

Here are some examples of my projects which are about ‘realising the creative potential of the Māori dimension of Aotearoa-New Zealand’.

  • Vision Mātauranga - a policy framework to enable distinctive Māori contributions to national goals through research, science and technology. I was the author of the policy now administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

  • Whare Tapere - iwi located ‘houses’ of storytelling, music, dance, games and other entertainments, designed to foster indigenous communities.

  • Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga - a centre of research excellence hosted by the University of Auckland focusing on the development of Māori communities. I was the Director of this research centre from 2009 to 2014.

  • Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand - I am currently Director of Ngā Manu Atarau: Commnunities, Repatriation and Sector Development, since Feb 2016.