Embracing Indigenous culture in military organizations: the experience of Māori in the New Zealand military

  • Grazia Scoppio Royal Military College of Canada


This article builds on a 2007 research on Indigenous peoples in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) which identified best practices from New Zealand that Canada could draw upon to enhance participation of Indigenous peoples within the Canadian Armed Forces. Using organizational culture theory as a conceptual framework, this article further investigates the main approaches and practices that have enabled a positive partnership with Māori and the successful inclusion of Māori culture in the NZDF. Specifically, the paper investigates the mechanisms used by the NZDF and the internal and external environments of the organization supporting the participation of Indigenous groups in the New Zealand military. The discussion explores ways in which Indigenous practices and customs can be incorporated into other military systems and protocols.  The paper concludes that, among military organizations, the NZDF is a leader in transforming the organizational culture by enabling the organization to embrace Indigenous culture and empowering Indigenous members within their ranks.



Author Biography

Grazia Scoppio, Royal Military College of Canada
Dr. Grazia Scoppio is a Professor and Dean of Continuing Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where she teaches in the Department of Defence Studies. Previously, she held appointments at the Canadian Defence Academy and the Canadian Forces Leadership Institute. She conducts interdisciplinary research using mixed methodologies in various social science fields including organizational diversity, military education,  distance learning, comparative and international education. She is the author of a book, book chapters, editorials, scientific reports and several articles appearing in international journals such as Res Militaris, Canadian Journal of Higher Education, Education and Information Technologies Journal, the International Journal of Organizational Diversity, and Canadian Military Journal. Due to her expertise in diversity in the military she has been interviewed by the media, appeared before two House of Commons Committees and was an Invited Member of the Halifax Peace with Women Fellowship Selection Committee.