Occupational Therapy New Zealand Whakaora Ngangahau Aotearoa
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Treaty relationship governance model

In September 2015 the OTNZ-WNA membership voted in a treaty relationship model with council having both tangata tiriti and tangata whenua houses. Two presidents will chair council meetings and are engaged in regular updates with the association’s executive director.

 Under the treaty relationship governance model:

  • Number on council 7
  • A minimum of 3 Māori councilors nominated by their roopu
  • All nominations are put forward for whole of membership voting at AGM
  • The WFOT delegate is the seventh council position voted for by the whole of membership irrespective of being either tangata whenua or tangata tiriti
  • Two presidents preside – one from each house.
  • Presidents will co-chair council meetings
  • Council subcommittees are represented by an equal number of tangata tiriti and tangata whenua members (an addition to the rules)
  • Equity of responsibilities spread or jointly undertaken apply as deemed practicable, including costs associated with two presidents

Tangata Whenua: A generic term for Māori comprising those with mana whenua responsibilities – Māori who are tied culturally to an area by whakapapa and whose ancestors lived and died there; together with taura here – Māori who are resident in an area but who belong to waka and tribes from other parts of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Tangata Tiriti: A generic term to describe people whose rights to live in Aotearoa/New Zealand derive from Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the arrangements that the Crown has established under a common rule of law and the equity provisions of Article 3 of Te Tiriti.


Occupational Therapy New Zealand Whakaora Ngangahau Aotearoa has been on a journey towards a representative bicultural organisation since 1997. At this time the association established a bicultural sub-committee with Māori and non Māori members called Te Roopu Whakapiri. Members were committed to bringing a greater understanding of te Tiriti o Waitangi and it was envisaged as a stepping-stone towards assisting the occupational therapy profession and the association towards being bicultural.

In 1999, the key stakeholders of the first occupational therapy hui, held at Tapu te Ranga Marae, Wellington were the then council, alongside the Occupational Therapy Board of New Zealand;  heads of the occupational therapy schools; Māori consumers; and Māori and other occupational therapy practitioners. By 2002 this sub-committee had dissolved, but around the same time members voted for a designated Māori portfolio position as part of the council. This was filled in 2004.

Over the past decade a number of initiatives have evolved. In 2009, OTNZ-WNA–WNA partnered with Te Rau Matatini for the launch of Te Umanga Whakaora (accelerated Māori occupational therapy workforce development strategy). Further initiatives included the Te Umanga Whakaora column in OT Insight, and an annual bicultural edition which is now one of our most popular publications during the calendar year; appointing a Māori perspective position to conference programme planning and encouraging the clinical workshop and conference programme to have provision for cultural competence presentations/workshops.   Other initiatives such as promotion of research opportunities for Māori, and promoting occupational therapy as a career for Māori have occurred. Kaumatua were appointed as advisors to support and guide the association on issues of tikanga. By 2012 the value of biculturalism was confirmed alongside occupational justice, integrity, transparency, collaboration and professionalism for the organisation.