Marsden funded project “an honour and a challenge”

23 November 2015
Dr Carla Houkamau

A research project awarded $565,000 in the latest Marsden funding round is based on one of the most topical questions facing contemporary Māori and New Zealand society: how can we foster Māori entrepreneurial behaviour and economic savvy?

Management and International Business senior lecturer Dr Carla Houkamau is leading the project, titled “How great can we be? Identity leaders of the Māori economic renaissance”.

Associate Professor Mānuka Henare (MIB) and Associate Professor Chris Sibley (Department of Psychology) are associate investigators.

“We are all very excited about the prospect of doing the work - which is an honour as well as a challenge,” Houkamau says. “We’ve received a lot of support and encouragement from our colleagues, so we’re really grateful. The study will be launched in June next year.”

To date there have been no large-scale quantitative investigations carried out on a representative sample of Māori to ascertain the specific economic values, choices, beliefs and behaviours they have and how those may be shaped by variations in their personal perceptions of what it means to be Māori.

This study proposes to fill this gap by using qualitative interviews with Māori iwi and business leaders to identify the distinctive economic norms, values, behaviours and attitudes that constitute Māori success as Māori.

The data will then be used to develop a measure of Māori economic behaviour and values. This novel scale will be administered via a questionnaire to a large-scale, nationally-representative sample of Māori.

Previous research conducted by Houkamau and Sibley serves as the impetus for this project. Houkamau and Sibley created the Multidimensional Measure of Māori Identity and Cultural Engagement in 2010. More information about the project and the survey can be viewed online at

Their research indicates that the key to Māori advancing economically lies in addressing important cultural differences in what Māori value, their notions of wealth and security, and also the possibilities they perceive are available to them as Māori. Against this background, Houkamau, Sibley and Hēnare will apply insights from the new field of identity economics to examine the link between aspects of Māori identity and Māori financial/economic beliefs, restrictions, behaviours and outcomes in more detail.

Professor Peter Boxall, Associate Dean (Research and PBRF), congratulated the team.

“We wish Carla, Mānuka and Chris every success in this important work. We also thank everyone who made a submission to the Marsden process. Your willingness to do so and the effort and creativity you put into the process are highly valued in the Business School.”