As colonisation infiltrated Māori societies, ‘traditional’ practices and concepts became dismantled, restricted to isolated domains, concealed, abandoned or adapted to contemporary settings. A colonial government has produced a contemporary form of Māori governance in which most people commonly associate with some type of ‘traditional’ governance system. Although the naming of such institutions has its own tradition, their assimilation into western governance systems merely provides the illusion of traditional control.
This paper aims to understand the construction of traditional concepts of governance structures in indigenous communities. The document is particularly relevant in the context of colonization of many indigenous communities and the dilution of their governance structures as a result of assimilation. The author considers the case of Māori governance as an example highlighting how traditional knowledges must move from the peripheries of ‘knowing’ and re-establish themselves back at the centre.
The author uses the case study of New Zealand Maori to further explore the fundamentals of the indigenous governance concept of ‘Runanga’. He also looks at how this concept of governance has been subject to detrimental forms of knowledge relocation. In order to understand the holistic impacts of knowledge relocation the author examines two different theories: the theorie of ‘Modes of Production’ (Marxist) and ‘World Systems and Dependency’ (neo-Marxist) both are aimed to explore the evolving power relationships.
The paper concludes that traditional knowledge of governance hovers around the ‘periphery’ as opposed to the ‘centre’ in assimilated indigenous communities, thus creating unequal power relationships. The author suggests that this anomaly could be remedied by relocating indigenous governance knowledge back to the ‘centre’ whilst ensuring that ties to the center are not totally severed.