First Nation Culture as the Innovation Driver

Recently, I was invited by the Ngā Kaitatau Māori o Aotearoa (National Maori Accountants Network) to be a speaker sharing “Thought Leadership from an ethnic perspective” at the National Maori Accountants Network Hui-A-Tau 2016 Conference (8-9 July 2016) held near the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand. The Conference theme was “Future Maori Leadership”.

Firstly, I would like to pay respects to the ancestors, elders and whanau where the Conference was held. I would like to thank the Ngā Kaitatau Māori o Aotearoa (National Maori Accountants Network) and the Whanau for the invitation and hospitality extended to me during my stay.  Also, I would like to thank the other panel members, Simon Jones (Moana Seafoods) for his insights about Moana Seafoods, and Selwyn Hayes (EY Tahi) for his engaging facilitation of the panel.

As a proud Torres Strait Islander to be invited to connect and share with our Maori brothers and sisters was immensely humbling, and spiritually empowering for me.

It was a great opportunity to share a brief snapshot of who are the Torres Strait Islander people and through the imagery in bala (brother) Patrick Mau’s version of “My Island home” share part of the Torres Strait. I encourage you to enjoy the song and view the video:

My presentation "First Nation Wisdom within a Procurement Context"  was inspired by my elders, culture and entrepreneurial spirit.

The underlying message I presented was Indigenous knowledge systems and values was the innovation drivers in business, career, leadership and procurement. I stressed that in a village context each person played a role in its existence through concepts like “good pasin” (paying respect), teamwork, strong warrior leadership, and living hand in hand with the land, water (for me solwata) and sky, we were able to sustain our Indigenous economic and social livelihood.

Indigenous knowledge systems and values is the innovation driver in business, career, leadership and procurement - Murray Saylor (Tagai Management Consultants)

I shared Tagai Management Consultants as a case study to demonstrate how we have moulded our traditional cultural values with traditional supply chain and procurement thinking, and the outcomes we have been able to achieve.

In the context of living in two worlds or more, First Nation business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals have a great responsibility to our families and communities in the continuing existence, and evolution of our cultures. Even more paramount is our symbiotic cultural existence allows all of us to be valued assets and leaders as we naturally view the world from a multifaceted perspective and ebb and flow with the environment around us. 

The key for employers, employees and entrepreneurs alike is to find the key to unlock the door that enlightens us to draw upon our cultural knowledge systems and apply it in a contemporary business context. I shared the journey is a personal one as culture and identity has differing connotations for each of us in our global village.

The following are some suggestions, and I am sure you have your own arsenal of tools and strategies:

  • Be true to your business and/or personal vision and goals;
  • Embrace your cultural identity in your leadership style and professional career;
  • Surround yourself with likeminded thought leaders, mentors, elders; and
  • Remain physically connected with what you consider your country or homelands.

I shared a quote from what you could say was an odd source, former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser who shared:

“Solutions will not be found while Indigenous people are treated as victims for whom someone else must find solutions.”

In closing, I shared that TMC business motto summarises what we endeavour to achieve and that we challenge the Conference whanau to strive for, and that is to "Maximise Opportunities to Make a Difference".

Tagai Management Consultants are driven to "Empowering Innovative Performance" with our clients and communities we have the honour of working with towards positive Social and/or Commercial outcomes. For a free initial consultation we can be contacted via mobile +61 0400 280 856 or email:

Written by Murray Saylor - Founder and Managing Director, Tagai Management Consultants