This study of Māori women Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) identifies the struggle Māori women face to find a distinct voice separate from the broader categories of women and Māoridom. The author discusses research on Māori and women's representation in leadership, examines different theories and models of leadership, and identifies the concept of the "servant leader" as that most closely aligned with Māori values.
Interviews were conducted with six Māori women CEOs, and the paper presents the women's responses in statistical and narrative form on issues such as definitions of leadership, the role models which have inspired them, what motivated them to become leaders, their personal experiences, insights on leadership, and what is needed for future Māori women leaders. The interviewees identified men's stereotypes and attitudes, and women's focusing on "doing" rather than promoting themselves, as the main barriers faced by Māori women.
Some of those interviewed express the feeling that Pakeha women have marginalised Māori women. A results-driven approach, integrity and honesty are seen as the primary competencies needed in leadership. The author offers considerations for future research, and a proposed model for future Māori CEOs to aspire to.