Te Kounga o te Werawera
Te Kounga o te Werawera acknowledges the quality and value that come from all the resources invested in a policy, program or service – such as the people, relationships, know-how, dollars, inspiration and perspiration. Value for money is never just about the money.
In collaboration with Māori evaluators and communities, my colleagues and I are supporting ongoing work to critically interrogate the Value for Investment approach, privileging Māori ways of knowing and being as the starting point for understanding the value and use of the approach in kaupapa Māori contexts.
For example, the sorts of considerations that surface when we consider what good and worthwhile resource use looks like in a program or service led by Māori values and worldviews, include: kaitiakitanga (being a good steward of resources – human, natural, and financial); tika and kawa (doing the right things, in the right ways, recognising that how something is done matters as much as what it achieves); and an equity-first lens on value for money that explicitly addresses what it takes to deliver equity, efficiently rather than to just ‘be efficient’.
Atamaha (the prism) is used as a metaphor for evaluative reasoning, the process of systematically combining evidence, tacit knowledge, and kaupapa Māori values to help make sense of complexity and to reach a place of transparency, honesty and clarity in order to make good decisions: Hikina ake te kohu kia mārama te titiro.
I’ve been blessed to work with Māori communities and a range of Māori evaluation colleagues to develop and adapt this approach. Too many to name everybody, but I especially want to acknowledge the contributions of Kataraina Pipi, Louise Were, and Nan Wehipeihana, and thank Kirimatao Paipa for gifting the name Te Kounga o te Werawera and the whakaaro (thinking) that sits behind it. My obligation and privilege is to continue the ongoing collaboration, to honour the whakaaro of Te Kounga o te Werawera, and support evaluation that is mana-enhancing and advances Māori wellbeing and self-determination.
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