Atawhai Tibble LLB is a passionate and experienced Māori expert in the economics of Māori wellbeing and the value of the Māori language and culture. A Wellington-based strategic policy advisor, fluent in te reo Māori, he has expertise in tikanga Māori, bringing kaupapa into a shared space, as well as the measurement of things that matter to Māori.
He led the development of the first-ever survey of Indigenous wellbeing undertaken in 2013 by Te Kupenga, a national statistics agency. This showed that despite the low percentage of Māori who speak Māori fluently, a high proportion of Māori feel connected to their marae and their whānau and express their identity through other means, including through whānau connection, kapa haka, waiata, and learning about their tribal history. Atawhai believes that Te Kupenga reminds us all that Māori identity is not one thing but that we are diverse, and we need to encourage the many things that make us strong as a people.
His experience with Te Kupenga took him to the NZ Treasury, the Social Wellbeing Agency, and then Te Hiringa Mahara, where he has helped support the measurement of te ao Māori. As a consultant, he is currently back at Statistics NZ as the Director of Te Ao Māori Census 2023. He just completed facilitating a 2-day wānanga with the Te Arawhiti leadership team, and he regularly supports various agencies who need cultural support, including the NZ Law Society.
From his extensive experience building Crown and Māori partnerships, Atawhai is sought after for advice on how to partner with Māori. He developed the 5 Wai's framework, which has been downloaded over 20,000 times. Atawhai reckons if sold on Amazon, it would have made the New York Times Best Seller list!
Atawhai is currently on the board of Te Punaha Matatini as well as a hapū development board, Reureu Kōtahitanga Ltd. He also founded the Tūhono Māori Network, a network for Māori professionals.
His advice to young people is to do as many different things as possible to find their voice. "I started off doing law and kapa haka. I ended up in policy and economic measurement. I tried many things. I have landed where I was meant to be. Kia kaha tatou!"