Tātai Ora: Determining a Ngāi Tai Nation

The impact of colonisation upon traditional self-organising tribal systems is most evident in the adoption of Western governance structures that have permeated most aspects of contemporary indigenous tribal realities. The problematic nature of these opposing cultural and corporate worlds makes it difficult for tribal collectives to remain authentic to their traditional ways of life, whilst effectively managing tribal assets, sustainably building a local economy and ensuring the collective vitality of their people. This doctoral research explores how Ngāi Tai, an Eastern Bay of Plenty Māori tribes’ aspirations for collective vitality are directly contesting the colonial agenda and challenging the ways in which tribal affairs should be meaningfully managed. These currents of resistance as part of a collective transformational shift and in alignment with tribal-determined development principles, capture the first steps of an indigenous peoples’ movement towards decolonising tribal systems and in turn, enacting the spirit of tribal sovereignty.