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Maori feminism and sport leadership: Exploring Maori women's experiences


  • Palmer, Farah R.
  • Masters, Tina M.


This paper utilizes Maori Feminism from an Indigenous, intersectionality perspective in order to give four Maori women sport leaders an opportunity to voice their experiences, especially with regards to ethnocultural and gendered identities. In particular, this paper explores pathways for these Maori women into and within sport leadership. It identifies barriers they experienced and strategies used to negotiate them; it analyses the affect of various identities during their experiences of sport leadership; and it critically analyses the impact that socio-cultural and structural factors have had on the well-being of these Maori women, and their effectiveness within the sport organizations they worked. The findings suggest the participants had a strong passion for sport, experienced mana (status and prestige) due to their sporting experiences and were motivated to take on leadership roles in order to give back (mahi aroha) to sport and/or their Maori communities. Barriers they faced included being whakaiti (modest and humble) in a male-dominated, highly competitive setting, institutional racism, sexism, marginalization due to their ethnocultural and gendered identities, as well as limited resources and lack of support from governing bodies. These barriers were negotiated by having suitable mentors, utilising their sporting and community networks, by brokering relationships with members of the governing body, adopting a partnership approach, and challenging ethnocultural and gendered expectations. All of the participants incorporated aspects of Maori culture and values such as whanaungatanga (kinship), manaakitanga (support) and aroha (compassion) into their leadership style and organizational culture with mainly positive outcomes. Catering to the quadruple bottom line (economic, environmental, social and cultural measures of business success) and adhering to culturally preferred ways of communicating and consulting did, however, place additional strain on these women. The participants reflected a hybrid style of leadership that integrated values and behaviours associated with their sporting, gendered and ethnocultural identities. Further studies on indigenous women in sport leadership need to take place in order to bring to the fore socio-cultural and structural issues that arise due to the intersecting of Indigeneity and gender. In addition, the combined impact that diversity management and gender equity policies have on Indigenous women needs investigating in order to progress the 'managing diversity' discussion in sport.

Suggested Citation

  • Palmer, Farah R. & Masters, Tina M., 2010. "Maori feminism and sport leadership: Exploring Maori women's experiences," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 331-344, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:spomar:v:13:y:2010:i:4:p:331-344

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas, David R. & Dyall, Lorna, 1999. "Culture, Ethnicity, and Sport Management: A New Zealand Perspective," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 115-132, November.
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