Working with Tāngata Whenua

Woman wearing korowai (traditional cloak).

Relationship-building between tāngata whenua (people of the land) and tāngata tiriti (all others who have come here) organisations, groups and communities is a core component of Community-Led Development in Aotearoa. The following resource provides three different tools to support communities in developing relationships with tāngata whenua.

Inspiring Communities is committed to a Treaty-honouring Aotearoa in which people actively participate in shaping their communities. Here’s some information on Our Engagement with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Stakeholder mapping

A stakeholder is any person or organisation that has an interest or influence in what you want to achieve. Once you have identified your purpose or outcome, it’s useful to think about who might be useful to engage with to support to support your community-led change efforts.

So let’s get started

There are many different ways that stakeholder mapping can be approached. They generally involve a mix of:

Read more…

Identifying: listing the relevant groups, organisations and people who will have an interest in or connection to the outcome or purpose you are interested in.

Analysing: going deeper to understand stakeholder perspectives and interests.  This can be done informally (e.g. through brainstorming and conversations) or more formally (e.g. through surveying, structured meetings/engagement processes). 

Mapping: visualising how particular stakeholder relationships might link and connect with the objectives and outcomes you are seeking. For example, the Forest Stakeholder Map below (from an earlier version of the UK Forestry Commission website) visually links different layers of interests and connection to the forest.

Forest Stakeholder Map

Prioritising: ranking stakeholder connections and interests to help work out who to engage or involve and how or how deeply.

It’s useful to intentionally think about who to work with in terms of their:

  • Stake in the issue/vision/project
  • Possible influence on the outcome
  • Willingness to be involved
  • Potential contribution (funds, information, land, mana, networks)

Levels of stakeholder participation and collaboration

Stakeholders can collaborate with you at varying levels. Some will want to be more involved than others.

Read more…

An example of a stakeholder mapping wheel.

A stakeholder mapping wheel

The Tamarack Community Engagement Wheel can also be adapted for stakeholder scanning and prioritising in terms of the who factors above.

The Working Together Continuum explains more about the different levels of collaboration between you and your stakeholders or partners.

The Different Levels of Collaboration

Core to Success: This initiative won’t happen without them. Their active participation in solution-making and decision-taking is critical. (Partnership/integration/strong collaboration)

Involved: They have a direct stake in the outcome and should be linked to and contributing to what’s happening.  (Collaboration)

Supportive:  They care about the vision and need to stay lightly engaged, receive updates, etc.  They can help if called on.  (Co-operation)

Peripheral: They receive information and know what’s happening, but don’t need to be directly involved.  (Communication)

A template follows to help you brainstorm and prioritise key stakeholders to engage and involve follows next:

A final check

  • Are these stakeholders reflected in your stakeholder scan? How?
  • Who else might have a stake in the outcomes but not have influence, money or an initial desire to be involved?
  • What else can you do to engage with and involve them?

The Working Together Continuum

Children playing tug of war.

Understanding different kinds of working relationships is crucial to getting the most out of key stakeholders within your community. From local government, to businesses, to residents, to funders and everyone in between, having an understanding of the types of working relationships you’re likely to encounter – and which ones you will strive to have – will only strengthen your ability to connect with people community-wide.

This explanatory document will introduce you to the types of relationships and their characteristics and allow you to constructively plan ways of communicating and bringing people together to work within these relationship types. It might also encourage you to move a working relationship along the continuum, because it’s important to note that partnering isn’t necessarily the ultimate goal for every relationship.

Also, this worksheet may be useful to print and use in mapping out current and intended relationships.

Putting Pen to Paper

The cover of the Pen to Paper publication.

The Putting Pen to Paper series was produced by The Department of Internal Affairs in 2007 and other stakeholders to offer guidance on putting partnering principles into practice.

The first report focuses specifically on

  • the development of inter-agency partnership agreements
  • guidance for those entering into new multi-party agreements
  • briefly analysing key opportunities and challenges to date (2007)

Putting Pen to Paper, split into sections, so you can choose the most relevant parts for you.

Working with complexity

It’s inevitable that you’re going to encounter some complex situations on your CLD journey and the best thing to do is to be prepared. On this video with Inspiring Communities’ David Hanna he explains Mark Cabaj’s Certainty-Agreement Matrix, which helps us understand the different ways we need to approach different situations. Some are simple, and a recipe book approach will work. Complex situations require much more experimenting because there are no simple answers. Check out these resources to find out more about the different styles of leadership needed for different situations we find ourselves in.

The certainty-agreement matrix provides leaders and managers with a lens for viewing the underlying cause-and-effect relationships and stakeholder positions of a situation and to adopt an appropriate orientation addressing it. It’s a detailed document which gives clear instructions about how to assess situations, and recommended courses of actions depending on the variables.

At the Heart Resource, Part Three – this video discusses working with complexity and Action Reflection

Community engagement tips

Reach out to a diversity of people, in fun creative ways to have lots of conversations

All communities are different, so community engagement approaches need to be tailored for each context and culture – the why and the who strongly influences your how. Your why or purpose should determine both who you are engaging with and what/how things are set up. What do you want to learn, share or achieve as a result of the interaction? Once you have your clear engagement purpose in mind, it’s important to do some background work to get prepared. 

There is no one size fits all when it comes to engagement. Depending on your role, you might use a variety of methods to engage with diverse people and groups: for example, one on one or (small or large) group meetings, phone conversations, and online communications. Some will be formal meetings that may need preparation beforehand, e.g.  developing agendas, making a presentation or organising an event.

Others will be smaller in scale, requiring a different style and level of formality, e.g. a scheduled café meeting or a brief conversation at a community hui to build relationships, exchange information and get to know what’s important to each party. Some may involve working with other partners in joint community engagement activities and could involve the creation of an engagement plan.

For getting started as a new community group or in a new place or role, here are some useful community engagement tips:

Make time to understand the local scene, who’s here and how things happen 
  • Do some googling 
  • Chat with neighbours, colleagues, others in the community you may know 
  • Attend community hui/workshops/meetings to get a sense of local people, place, and context Who are mana whenua? What about tangata whenua, taura heremātāwaka and tauiwi relationships?  
  • Which key community leaders, organisations and networks will be useful to have on your radar? 
Be positive, proactive and observant

Take every opportunity to meet new people and organisations. A friendly smile goes a long way! Also look for cues in terms of formality, style, tactics and different ways of engaging by watching and learning from other effective community leaders you meet.  

Do what you say you’ll do

If you say you’ll follow up by phone next week or that you’ll forward information, do it, or let people know if something’s no longer possible. This shows respect and helps builds trust and confidence. 

Relationship building between tāngata whenua and tāngata Tiriti

Relationship building between tāngata whenua and tāngata Tiriti (all others who have come here) organisations, groups and communities is a core component of CLD in Aotearoa.  Here are some resources to support you in developing these relationships.

Read more…

Here’s a resource on developing relationships with Tangata Whenua. Many of the key messages, for example in Atawhai Tibble’s 5 Wais of Māori Engagement (this can be read fully fleshed out in context here), also apply to engaging with communities more broadly.

Ideas for how to reach out

Community hui (meetings) are necessary but not enough to engage people around growing local visions and inspiring local action. Only some parts of the community will show up to meetings, for all sorts of reasons. So, we need to get creative about going to where people are and having lots of conversations. From those conversations, we can shape doable small actions to get started.  

Read more…

Once you are clear on your why (e.g. you know more about this community’s history, hopes and dreams) and have some ideas about what you want to ask, here are some creative examples about how to reach out, that have worked for others: 

  • Knock on doors street by street and have one-on-one conversations 
  • Invite people out into a suitable place on their street for a cuppa and a chat 
  • Use an artificial Christmas tree in a shopping area for people to add their wishes to and as a conversation starter 
  • Use PhotoVoice or a similar tool to engage people whose voices don’t always get heard 
  • Engage children in classroom discussion with art materials, props, stationery…  
  • Encourage the children to go home and talk to their parents about the same questions 
  • Invite people with disabilities, new migrants, older people and other groups commonly left out to help you design new ways to engage with them and their networks 
  • Plan a fun community event like a community dinner or family fun day and get people drawing, talking and building images of what they would like as part of the event 
  • Use existing connections to grow connections, e.g. finding out who has links with the local hapū or iwi and who are the appropriate people to start connections with 
  • Use a large map of the area as a focus point and discussion opener and ask Where do you live? before going into deeper conversation  

Make sure you are inviting participation and sharing information about how people can be involved, not just collecting ideas for ‘someone else’ to action. People might decide to do something together straight away, or to share contact details. Otherwise, let them know how to stay connected.  

If you are working with children, check out these fun, educational activities for primary and intermediate students on valuing, enjoying, improving and caring for one’s street, neighbourhood and community from the Ranui Massey Back to Back Project: A booklet for teachers and A booklet for students.

What can go wrong? 

There are many things that can get in the way of positive community engagement, e.g. lack of time, transport, childcare or interest, people’s busy schedules, lack of experience or information, poor organisation or communication, a history of bad past experiences, leadership styles/attitudes/behaviours and the sheer fatigue of overcommitted people.  

The best way to know how things are going and/or to understand why they are not going well is to intentionally and openly ask. You don’t have to be the expert. Rather, you can ask people from the groups you want to be more engaged about what you need to do differently. When inviting feedback and encouraging constructive dialogue around outcomes, barriers, possibilities, you need to be prepared to honestly and openly listen, reflect, clarify and identify potential changes that could be made. And ideally you will work with those same people to co-design and implement a new way forward. You can turn failure into stronger trust and respectful relationships for the future. 

The use of images to communicate

PhotoVoice is a process that was developed in 1995 by Caroline Wang to gather information from women living in rural China.  It’s an opportunity for community members who aren’t often heard, or find it hard to communicate, to talk about things that are important to them.

An opportunity for community members who aren’t often heard, or find it hard to communicate, to talk about things that are important to them.

VOICE stands for Voicing Our Individual and Collective Experiences.

Each PhotoVoice project is different, and how it’s facilitated will depend on who you’re planning to connect with, what you’re trying to achieve, and how many people will be in attendance. It will also depend on the individualities of participants and the community itself.

Learn more and visit the PhotoVoice website for more information.

Strategies to build your community

Community change and collaboration is not going to happen overnight. But with planning and methodical action, it’s absolutely achievable.

Initiating discussion is the first step to uncovering a community’s strengths. From here we can learn about how our community can work together, find resources for creative solutions and helps turn people’s energy into action.

These two resources are great places to start:

How to get community conversations started

What do you need to know and why? Here are a few examples of powerful questions you might choose from or adapt. They are strengths-based and reflect an Appreciative Inquiry approach. They help us clarify our why – purpose or vision, what – actions people have energy for, and how – how people will work to draw on the strengths the community already has.  

People eating and talking.

The kinds of questions you ask can have a big impact on the way people engage with you, the type of information you gather and on the involvement or action that follows. Strengths-based questions bring out community pride and help identify assets for addressing challenges. These questions invite conversations about community issues that need to be addressed, but don’t start by focusing on a problem or on something that’s missing.

Closed questions generally elicit yes/no responses. The more open-ended your question, the more powerful they are in triggering deeper conversations and encouraging people to think more creatively. As a result, new possibilities emerge and often provoke next questions.  

We want to begin a conversation and grow a relationship. We want to gather information, but we are also building trust and together exploring possibilities for future engagement.

Examples of powerful questions

Choose a few questions to get community conversations started that are fit for your purpose.

What we already have

  • What makes (name of our place) a great place to live, work and play in?  
  • What do we love about this place e.g. about its history, culture, physical/natural environment, people, facilities, etc?  
  • What’s happening?
  • What matters to people?
  • What is working well? And how?  
  • Who are key people helping make it a great place?  

Our future aspirations

  • What would make (name of our place) an even better place to live? 
  • How do we get more of the good stuff? 
  • What are your hopes and dreams for this place? E.g.  if it was the coolest neighbourhood for you and your whānau/family to live, work and play in, what would it look like/be like? 
  • What needs to change? Why?  

Making it happen

  • If together we could take action on one thing to strengthen this place/community, what would be most important to you?
  • What could we do? 
  • Two years from now, if we had been successful, what would you see? 
  • What opportunities do you see? 
  • What do people have energy for? 

How will we do it?

  • How would you like to be involved? 
  • What would you love to be part of? 
  • What’s important about how we work together? 
  • What are doable next steps? 
  • Who else in this space might be interested in helping us? 
  • How can we draw on what we already have here? 

If you’d like to know more about designing your own powerful questions, see this resource on how to design your own powerful questions.

Other useful resources

Use the active listening checklist as a tool to help you or your group review what needs to be in place to have engaging conversations with the people you talk to, and check this tool to help you brainstorm ways to reach out to a diversity of people, in fun creative ways. 

Here’s some further information about mapping community assets and strengths and Appreciative Inquiry as a strengths-based approach.

Te Reo resources

Place/whenua diagram.

Our new Ngā Mātāpono/Community-led Development Principles

As part of Inspiring Communities journey, we’ve been refining our Community-led Development (CLD) principles to make them simpler, more accessible and more responsive to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori world views. We would like to be more responsive to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori world views in all of our work, so we are also working on our kawa and our reo.

Other Useful Te Reo Resources

Here are some useful resources, created for us, that we’d like to share with you. There are PDFs with karakia, waiata and whakatauki you can use. There are also accompanying sound files for these. Please feel free to use and share them.

We’ve also listed some websites and apps we think are great for learning Te Reo.

Downloadable PDFs

Te Reo words

Sound files


1. Mauri oho – Karakia timatanga

2. Whiti ora – Karakia timatanga

3. Whakataka te Hau – Karakia timatanga

4. Tukua te wiarua kia rere – Karakia timatanga

5. Kia tau ngā manaakitanga – Karakia timatanga or whakamutunga

6. Unuhia – Karakia whakamutunga

7. Kia tau – Karakia whakamutunga

8. Whakapaingia ēnei kai – Karakia mō te kai

9. Kua horahia te kai – Karakia mō te kai

10. Nau mai e ngā hua – Karakia mō te kai


– add sound files here


Celebrating leadership

1. He kotuku rerenga tahi

Celebrating hard work

1. He rā whatiwhati kō

2. Tē tōia, tē haumatia

3. He Manawa tītī

4. Mauri tū, mauri ora

5. Kua hua te marama

How to add a Māori keyboard

See how to add a Māori keyboard and integrate it into Word with English here.

Useful websites and apps


With the Kupu app, users simply take a picture. Kupu then uses image recognition to identify what the object is in the picture and provide Te Reo Māori translations for the object(s). Fun and easy to use!

Download here for iPhone users and here for Android users.


Pepeha is a way of introducing yourself in Māori. It tells people who you are by sharing your connections with the people and places that are important to you. Once you have completed your Pepeha you can save it to your device, have it printed for display or as a taonga for yourself or a loved one.