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Le Tautua Matau Mana Moana

Since 2008, Le Va has delivered Le Tautua – a unique leadership and management programme tailored for emerging Pacific mental health and addiction leaders.  This year, the Le Tautua alumni programme has been refreshed to focus specifically on Pasifika cultural leadership – integrating core Pasifika concepts into leadership.  

In January 2016, Le Va’s inaugural Le Tautua Matau Mana Moana Programme began with an intake of 15 senior Pasifika mental health and addictions leaders at Taupiri. The leadership programme has been delivered in a retreat-style workshop format in different locations throughout wider Auckland.

The first session was titled the “View from the Mouga” (mountain) and was an opportunity to reflect on what Pasifika leaders have achieved so far, and think about the peaks and challenges they aspire to in the future. It focused very much on the tofa sa’ili – the journey.  

His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Ta’isi Tamasese Efi writes:

We need to carefully and continually probe our premises, fundamentals, values, and visions.  We need to understand our biases and prejudices, strengths and weaknesses.  We must have languages and ways of doing, teaching and knowing that can speak to our minds and souls. We must be able to know when to adapt the old or take on the new; when to learn from our mistakes and share our successes.  And we must do all this with humility and the right tools.  It is this kind of and building and re-building of our foundations, that will allow us to fly.”  

In many ways, the leadership programme provides a forum for Pasifika leaders to engage with these kind of ideas, reflect, share and gather tools and skills that they can put into practice.  

Positioned alongside engaging with ancestral and cultural knowledge, Louise Marra (of Spirited Leadership and Programme Lead of Leadership New Zealand) brings cutting-edge leadership practice. During the leadership programme, there has been a focus on sharing social innovation tools and the ‘newest of the new’ alongside the Pasifika ancient. It is recognised that skilfully navigating contradictions and culturally complicated terrain is part and parcel of being a Pasifika leader. Participants emerge with more tools and skills by which to navigate their contemporary professional lives, more knowledge in their culture baskets, and emerge with greater clarity and confidence in their leadership practice.   

The foundations of Le Tautua Matau Mana Moana are based on what has worked for previous Le Tautua alumni, and gathering data and evaluations over the past six years – our leaders have told us they want effective ways to integrate and apply cultural knowledge into their leadership practice and their professional contexts. The curriculum draws heavily on the research and body of knowledge developed by Dr Karlo Mila during four years of postdoctoral research. 

This is an indigenous wellbeing approach and intervention revitalising indigenous Pacific knowledge that draws on 70 Pacific source generative words – shared in at least 15 Pacific languages – more than 250 Tongan, Samoan, Niuean, Cook Islands, Maori and Hawaiian proverbs, and a myriad of shared mythology, narratives and translations. In partnership with designer Dr Johnson Witehira, 35 of these highly metaphorical and symbolic words and archetypes were transformed into visual images. These are organised into an indigenous canon of shared (in at least 15 languages) archetypes, demigods, power words, philosophical concepts and shared language arranged into the categories of: atua (spirit), fanua (earth), moana (ocean), langi (sky), kainga (family / people) and va (relationships).

The second workshop was focused around fanua, traditional knowledge associated with land, seasons and cycles. Resilience when leading through the afaa (cyclone or storm) was a central focus. The final workshop will focus on knowledge associated with the moana – the ocean. This focuses explicitly on what makes good navigators in contemporary contexts, drawing on ancestral wisdom as well as social innovation.

The evaluations of the first two sessions have been overwhelmingly positive, showing that this format has been hugely welcomed. For some, learning – and for others, showing – how culture and leadership connects and is a valuable resource, asset and source of inspiration, is our Pasifika ‘value add’ – and what will make our Pasifika leaders the most sort after, and the most successful, in leading authentically and serving our communities.  


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Covid-19 Update

Face-to-face workshops will not continue while New Zealand is at Level 4. We will be in contact with all participants soon.