Cultural constellations (and a marriage) of change

Today I had the pleasure of sharing lunch with Mike and Rosie Kennedy. Mike is Australian born, and Rosie of Maori heritage. They have been married for a number of years and lived in both Australia and New Zealand. As changemakers and community leaders, they have had to grapple with and understand each other and the world through the lenses of their different cultures.

Mike shared some interesting stories about first going into cultural situations in New Zealand and needing to learn quickly around how to talk, how to LISTEN, and how to behave. He talked about learning aspects of Maori spirituality and language. While we live so closely in the world, there are some strong distinctions in how community works, and how leadership and change happens.

Mike shared how when he first landed in New Zealand so many years ago, he was reading Machiavelli’s The Prince. This classic text talks about an approach to changemaking based on power, politics, corruption and violence; glorifying the ethical maxim that the “end justifies the means”. Mike described how surreal it was to be reading this philosophy while being introduced to such a contrasting view of how power and community can work.

According to Rosie and Mike, the Maori way has its own sense of power. It is a spiritual and cultural way of being in the world deeply rooted to land and water, to family and community. While we didn’t unpack ethics in relation to Maori culture, Read more