Passing on knowledge – with humility and at times, great hilarity

29 Oct 2015

From APAC 2015 Forum, Auckland
By Paul Ingle, Executive Director Leadership & Learning

APAC 2015 Forum – Dignitaries completing the formal ceremony with a traditional Maori greeting called the Hongi from HardyGroupIntl on Vimeo.

For a person who grew up in a bi-cultural family (Maori and European) in New Zealand there was something reassuring and familiar about returning and being part of the powhiri at APAC 2015.

The powhiri is the Maori ritual of encounter. I use the term encounter because in years gone by the process served to discover whether the approaching party was friend or foe. With APAC in its fourth year the powhiri was quite clearly a welcoming back of friends. With numbers peaking at 1400 that also meant quite a few new friends had turned up.

Kaumatua and Kuia, elders in Maori society, guided the powhiri. Through oratory, prayer and song they brought everyone together, calling on everyone to be present, to focus the on the common purpose.

And what a powerful common purpose at APAC – to improve the health and wellbeing of people.

One final reflection of the role of kaumatua and kuia. They are of course leaders. Held in high esteem in Maori culture they are recognised for their life experience and the knowledge they have accumulated over the years.

If you asked them they would tell you this knowledge was passed on to them by their ancestors, leaders who have gone before them. In that sense they see themselves as the kaitiaki, the guardians, of that knowledge. That brings a lovely humility to Maori leadership and a deep sense of responsibility to both grow and pass that knowledge on to the next generation. To me that is an apt metaphor of what I experienced at APAC.

Without exception each of the speakers I either listened to or interviewed – be they internationally or locally recognised – shared their learning’s with such humility. Some of course shared their learning’s with great hilarity. Ruby Wax was in the house after all!!

No grandstanding. No lecturing. No condescension.

Healthcare systems need to change to respond to population growth, a changing demographic and the complexities of long term conditions. That will require a different type of leadership and leader. Patch protection will fail us, hiding innovations as our competitive advantage will fail us. It will require leaders to recognise their responsibility as system stewards. Kaitiaki if you will.

I saw that in spades at APAC.

– Paul Ingle