Rātā Foundation

Project Background

Rātā Foundation (known prior to 2015 as the Canterbury Community Trust) is a community trust that serves Canterbury (from Selwyn District north), Nelson, Marlborough and the Chatham Islands.  This research is the first stage in the development of a Māori strategy to guide Rātā Foundation in how it should work with, and support, Māori communities, their whānau, hapū and iwi.   The foundation supports a broad range of not-for-profit community organisations by allocating grants of around $18 to $20 million annually.  This research is the first stage in the development of a strategy to guide the Rātā Foundation in how it should work with, and support, Māori communities, their whānau, hapū and iwi.  

What we did

Taking a kaupapa Māori approach, this research was designed to be strength based and focused on the aspirations of iwi Māori in the Rātā Foundation region.  Together with the Rātā Foundation we identified 27 organisations, iwi and rūnaka.  We interviewed 42 participants from these organisations.  We incorporated an analysis of demographic information to provide an overview of baseline data and to look for contextual and geographical differences, this was sourced through additional sources, such as the District Health Board’s strategy, Canterbury University statistical analysis of data in the Canterbury region and Statistics New Zealand.  Data was analysed using NVivo, an inductive approach was used to build categories out of the data, they were then sorted under research questions and significant themes that were additional to the research inquiry. The research was intended to be mana-enhancing and strength based which is consistent with a kaupapa Māori approach. The field interviewers, data analyst and writers were all Māori. Where possible iwi and rūnaka were interviewed by someone who had a previous relationship with them through research, community engagement and/or whakapapa.


This research described the aspirations of iwi, runaka and Māori organisations within the Rātā Foundation region. The report provided a foundation for the next stage of strategy development which will be conducted in 2018.  The aim is to produce a strategic document that reflects the aims and aspirations of the tangata whenua and enables Rātā to support the vision iwi, runaka and Māori organisations have for their whānau.


“I really mihi to Rātā about the different mechanisms of engagement. One, through a research company and two, through Rātā directly and the appetite to come to our region so they’ve not forgotten about us on the side, we’re not an add on. What I’m getting from this process is they’ve gone into their rohe and actually you’ve gone out of your way to make sure we’re included, so a big thanks to whoever selected you to do the survey. I’d like to say they’ve selected well in you. We really appreciate the time and energy you’ve put into connecting.”

-Research Participant

Find out how we can help you

We’ll work with you to find out what’s working, where investment could be put to best use or how to improve anything not going to plan. We can help you define success and set tangible, measurable goals. And we talk in real language so you can understand and engage with the findings. We engage with the community to conduct community research and consultations for private companies, trusts, government agencies, NGOs and more. But we have a special interest in research that has a purpose - to better society and teach lessons. We aim to help those we work with build capacity to enact positive change.