This article brings perspectives from three Māori activists, each promoting issues of self-determination in different ways. It centres on tino rangatiratanga and mana motuhake, two concepts that inform modern Māori activism and life and practice, and more recently conceptions of Māoridom as “nation”. Using a Gramscian framework we argue that the New Zealand state has over time created a notion of one people within one state, and has in the past incorporated challenges to its legitimacy within a framework of popular consent. The desire by some Māori activists for self-determination promotes a separateness that to some extent challenges this idea of nation–state unity. An examination of these modern Māori activist politics allows us to observe the operations of hegemony as it forms and reforms in modern New Zealand.