Tipu Ake ki te Ora
Growing the future - An organic
Growing the future:
The Tipu Ake Lifecycle: An organic leadership model for innovative organisations.
Strong Communities have an innate sense of leadership and teamwork. Karen Laugesen and Rut Wynyard describe how natural gifts have been captured in a radical leadership framework.
A New Zealand management model that integrates culturally diverse perspectives with a flexible approach to decision-making and change management has been developed based on the values and collective wisdom of the people of Te Whaiti.
Gifts of the land:
Te Whaiti is a small, mainly Maori community that lies between Whirinaki Forest Park and Te Urewera. It has been without employment for a generation since rainforest milling was stopped.
The natural beauty of the Whirinaki Forest area is world-renowned. However, the natural gifts of Te Whaiti extend beyond the realms of native forest to the people themselves. The strong values and leadership that hold the community firm have been put to good use for the sake of the children of Te Whaiti.
The result is a school that has transformed itself through the use of ancient values and knowledge. The school of Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi has drawn on this knowledge to move from the brink of closure seven years ago to a point today where success has become a constant.
The starting point for this success was in the staging of a ‘live-in’. The school Board members :
“It provided a catalyst from which our team truly started to function. No one wore their [leadership] hats,” said Genevieve Doherty, school principal.
Ideas to outcomes:
This collective, inclusive wisdom has now been translated into a forward-thinking management model and is ready to be shared with innovative organisations that are serious about:
A hui / workshop held during the third weekend of November
2001 was the launch pad from which the school and local
community shared their vision and wisdom with organisations
eager to adopt a more holistic approach to organisational
These actions and wisdom have been translated into the Tipu Ake Lifecycle with the help of volunteers, including ex pupil Peter Goldsbury, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Project Management Consultant, who acknowledges: “I feel immensely privileged to have these people [of Te Whaiti] share such powerful wisdom with me. We have been testing the model on "Leading project and Innovation in your Organisation" workshops at AUT and it has amazed me to see how readily participants from many of NZ's top organisations embrace it”
Tipu Ake, meaning ‘Growing (from within) upwards
(ever towards wellness)’, is based on an analogy
with nature and provides a framework that concisely
encapsulates current management wisdom on innovation,
leadership, management, teamwork, and change.
The differences between the Tipu Ake Lifecycle and other business models are considerable: Most contemporary business models take a linear process based path towards the achievement of objectives. Tipu Ake is cyclic and focuses on behaviours. It acknowledges the significance of returning to the ‘undercurrents’ - negative resistance that can be channeled into a re-germination process that ultimately strengthens the organisation.
The Tipu Ake path starts with leadership, the collective
courage that takes the seed of a new idea forward and
gathers the commitment of a team to support its growth
by a common vision of wellness. This groundswell happens
below the surface. “Project hero egos” or
“tall poppies” are not helpful here. These
germination and rooting stages are too often ignored
in organisations where the focus is on structures, analytical
processes and measurement.
In a global world needing cultural understanding and with our environment under extreme pressure, the Maori influence and values make the model more applicable and understandable. Their concept of ORA drives the seventh level called ‘wellbeing’ which encapsulates the overall outcomes desired by the group. It is the reason why the whole cycle is initiated.
Wisdom of 'we'
During the weekend hui a comment was made that Bill Gates at Microsoft could do well to adopt the Tipu Ake Lifecycle, and may want to pay a lot to get hold of it. Chris Eketone, chairman of the school board, replied: “Tell him we don’t want his money, just ask him to give his technology for [all] our kids.”
These words illustrate the power of a collective vision that steps beyond the output-focused bottom line and is all about outcomes that lead to wellbeing, i.e. giving the children choices for their future.
The sharing of this knowledge is not about the money. It’s about the values that have led this community to such a position – of sharing, of collective wisdom, of ‘we’.
Sweet for the sweet:
There is no place for the ‘Matapiko gatekeepers’ (knowledge with-holders) within this management system. Leadership is project-based and their success relies on the degree to which people are capable of acknowledging the power of the team.
The Te Whaiti School team are humble in the face of intense organisational interest, they say:
The people of Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi share the model and invite you to taste it to help grow your own forest. They will also offer team retreats for innovative organisations wanting to learn from nature, share Tipu Ake wisdom and experiences, and sample their renowned hospitality.
In the knowledge sharing tradition of Toi, the Tipu Ake Lifecycle is in the public domain. © 2001 Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi. The full model is downloadable at www.tipuake.org.nz. In return a koha (donation) to help further voluntary education and community development in the valley is appreciated please.
The writer Karen Laugesen is a 2001 Public Relations graduate from AUT. She volunteered her time on the Tipu Ake Communications team and attended the launch Hui at Te Whaiti on 17 Nov 2001. She was supported in this by Ruth Wynyard AUT Journalism graduate and David Somerfield, Photographer.
A version of this story was first published in "Employment Today" Jan/Feb 2002. It was revised in 2005 to include poisons and sunlight, new elements since added to the model.
NOTICES AND OPPORTUNITIES:
1. NEW "Lifelong Learning - Nature's Way" - Tipu Ake as a learning model
Helping New Zealanders and the world grow from within
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(c) 2001 onwards Te Whaiti Nui-a-Toi. All intellectual property protected under the provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi 1840 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Adopted by General Assembly 13 Sept 2007) - details www.tewhaiti-nui-a-toi.maori.nz
The Tipu Ake Team thanks AUT for helping incubate this model and in particular the many student teams, staff and other local and international volunteers that have helped it germinate in many places around the world.
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