What can te ao Māori teach us about money?

8 min read
15 September, 2021


This episode of Money and You looks at what we can learn about money from te ao Māori (the Māori worldview), from the perspective of Karleen Everitt, Head of Te Ao Māori Strategy at ANZ. 

Watch the YouTube video or read the conversation below. 
Important note: This episode was filmed during lockdown in September 2021.

Kia ora Karleen and welcome, it’s great to have you here today. Just wondering if you'd like to introduce yourself, share a bit about your background and what your role at ANZ involves. 

Hey look thanks for the welcome and thanks for allowing me to come and have a bit of a kōrero to you this morning. Particularly acknowledge Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and the beauty te reo Māori has in that it is a poetic and very strong language. But equally it is the only place on in Aotearoa across that we get to hear te reo Māori right here in New Zealand. So to acknowledge Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and this opportunity, so a bit of a kōrero to you about the kaupapa of money. 

So in June of this year, I was appointed as Te Kaitohu Rautaki Māori, it's the head of Te Ao Māori Strategy. I'm the first person of the ANZ in which to be appointed in this role.  

My first responsibility is in regards to developing the ANZ’s first te ao Māori strategy. It is the opportunity where we can bring two worlds together. My role is to support the ANZ, but also our clients and our customers in regards to those who are amazing leaders in the Māori economic space, and the relationship that they have with the ANZ.  

Look, this is for me, it's a huge responsibility. And if anything, I think my remit is actually in regards to legacy change, because when we look at Māori in business and just money itself, some people have referred to is as a tapu subject, we shouldn't talk about it. But actually, our people and I think of my ancestors, they were amazing traders. They traded internationally, of generations upon generations. And so this part of engagement of a people that we know today in terms of business is exciting and it actually just beats to my very heart.  

You mentioned before that money can be tapu or a taboo topic in many cultures. Is money talked about in Maori culture? Is it not talked about? How does it fit in? And is it a seen as a positive or negative thing? 

I grew up with a family where we talked about money. I grew up with a very hard-working middle class family, we had to work to achieve what we wanted to achieve, and so we always talked about money.  

Karleen Everitt ANZ talking about money - Money and YouA friend of mine had sent through to me a video of my five-year-old self. And I can recall, even being at five years old, we were talking about money, because it was all about pocket money, and I think my pocket money at that time was $5 and my older brother and sister got $10, which was a huge amount of money at that time, if I’m thinking about it, right?  

But equally we were always working. So when I was younger growing up, I had to work hard during the summer breaks to pay for my education. Money was always at the dinner table or in the kitchen, in terms of our conversations. But I was very fortunate to have that as a conversational piece. My grandfathers, on both sides actually, encouraged those discussions with my parents, when they were also growing up. So we understood the value of money. So it was never taboo or tapu, in our whānau.  

And actually, that's probably why I went on to study business and went on to do business.  

Are there any particular lessons that you remember learning from your whānau or words of wisdom that they shared with your five year old self? 

Karleen Everitt ANZ money at home - Money and YouYeah, look, I think it is definitely about working hard. But it's really interesting – the work ethic from both my mother and my father is very special to me. My mother was the one who was very financially minded and she always managed the purse strings. My father just brought in the pay packet, but she managed everything. And I find that today still, that the women in our family, particularly are the ones who manage the purse strings.  

I think if there is any notes of wisdom or messages from my five-year-old self it's that I wouldn't spend so much money on lollies as what I did when I was younger, because dentist bills are very expensive! 

But I think the teachings of being not afraid to talk about money and family to look at the opportunities, how we can increase the income into family is also important. But I recall, you know, there was days at primary school, where you'd have a day, you had to bring in your little bank book and you'd put in 10 cents, or 50 cents, or $2, or whatever it was. And they used to do that.  

The conversation I think is what's important here, is having the conversation about how we are managing our finances, and being quite resilient in that space and how we communicate that to our tamariki, to our mokopuna, to our children and our grandchildren, and engage in that discussion with them.   

We often talk about the language of money at the FSC, and how we can make it more accessible to people. And there's a lot of terminology there that can sometimes make it difficult for people to, I guess, understand. And I'm wondering, do you find that there's also the same challenge? Because it definitely is a struggle in English! 

One of the things that I'm really encouraged by is that when I was growing up, there were no kura kaupapa. My college was the first bilingual college recognised in New Zealand. So te reo Māori at that time was very new. Sorry, not new, but the position of having this in our educational system was new. And I acknowledge that was a huge battle and journey that many of my elders took particularly in 1975 in regards to the petition. 

What that meant, though, is that for today, te reo Māori is growing. Now, it is still very much endangered, and there is a requirement in a calling to action across our nation. With te reo Māori, I can flourish here in Aotearoa New Zealand. And I'm mindful of that, particularly at this time of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. So, to your question and terminology is the point of why I'm encouraged is that there now are so many of young Māori who have gone through that kaupapa where te reo Māori is their first language. And because te reo Maori is their first language, they have then gone on to wananga, and those terms that you refer to, that are quite easily used as part of our financial framework here in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally, we will see the translations of those come through as more of our whānau, engage in the space and this industry.   

Is there anything that you think non Maori - pākeha - could learn from Māori in terms of how te ao Māori sees money and finance and all of that? Are there any particular things that you think the Māori worldview has to offer? 

Te ao Māori takes a holistic approach to our world. And there is a depth of knowledge that we come from, in regards to our whenua, our kaia, our environment, and how we live with one with our taiao with our environment, and business is part of it. I am really encouraged by the discussions in regards to sustainable finance. That is a course of action that together we must all take. And there are great learnings already in regards to te ao Māori that I'm really excited where we're heading to. But that takes a course of action for us all on which to engage in.  

Te ao maori and money - Karleen Everitt ANZ Money and YouIf I think about Māori and how we look and view things, we view things long term. And so what has always been a little bit of a challenge when in a mainstream environment we'll talk about a strategy of three years or five years. When I am in my own whare and we talk about strategy, for Māori we're talking about 100 years, 1000 years, and we look towards that future. And that future that we protect, not for ourselves but for generations to come. I think that's a key piece of our conversation of a people as a nation as we come together to embrace that opportunity. And as we, as a team of 5 million, we of course are in one of the greatest battles as a nation and as a world in regards to COVID.  

So the question would be, can we be bold and can we be courageous to engage in the discussions of a post-COVID environment with a long-term view of 100 years to 1000 years, for us here in Aotearoa New Zealand and across the world?  

This is a conversational piece of not just the tangata whenua here in Aoteoroa. But of course, when I think about my brothers and sisters of indigenous nations across our global village, and how we protect papatūānuku, our earth mother, our taiao (our environment) and how we protect our whakapapa, our generations yet to follow. 

I think those are some beautiful words to leave people with. Is there anything else that you wanted to wanted to share before we wrap up this kōrero? 

Yeah, look, just a couple of things. Let us all together be brave in our conversations in te reo Māori and to support one another in that journey. Two is how do we support one another as well, and in my role with ANZ I am truly humbled to be part of a family of the ANZ. When I look at all our staff and how committed they are to make real difference for family, for their customers and clients, it is humbling. There's so much more for us to do. And I encourage our families that you know, that are wanting to understand how they can understand their own financial wellbeing more to reach out to the various champions in this space. And I think that that is really what I'd like to say is let us be bold and let us be courageous in the space as we build our nation. 

Thanks, Karleen. Really, really appreciate you being here and sharing your perspectives with us today. To celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. Hope you have a have a wonderful rest of the week ahead. Thank you again.  

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15 September 2021.   


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