Building cultural capacity in your organization is like planting a seed of success

Te Awe Davis: “Whanaungatanga, tikanga, and uaratanga​ are the foundation of what cultural competency and capacity courses should strive to develop within organizational spaces.  »


Te Awe Davis: “Whanaungatanga, tikanga, and uaratanga​ are the foundation of what cultural competency and capacity courses should strive to develop within organizational spaces. »

Te Awe Davis is the implementation strategist for Education Perfect’s Māori kaupapa. Education Perfect is launching an online Maori language competition, from Monday, September 12 at 9 a.m. to Friday, September 16. You can register here.

OPINION: Te ao Māori ki te ao, sharing the Maori world with the world.

In recent years, there has been an expansion in the sector of cultural development, courses and capacity programs, which are increasingly popular in professional spaces in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

An increase in Maori entrepreneurship has seen the creation of various Maori capability providers willing to support growth and development in this space. There is now momentum and, supported by technology, the ability to share and access mātauranga Māori (Maori knowledge) has never been easier.

While there is a large percentage of professionals willing to join waka, there are others who fear the need for these on-the-job courses and apprenticeships. What place does the Māori kaupapa occupy in a council room? Why implement te ao Māori concepts in the professional practice of the Aotearoa company?

* Maori middle classes suspended due to shortage of te reo teachers
* Aotearoa, walk with me
* Different dialects of te reo to celebrate in The Lion King

In my contribution to this wave of capacity classes with Education Perfect, I had the privilege of sharing kōrero (discussions) with professionals from leading organizations. These discussions and wānanga (considerations) have developed my idea of ​​what cultural capacity looks like in a professional sense, and in answering the question of what place kaupapa Māori occupies in the conference room, three concepts come to mind .

Whanaungatanga, tikanga and uaratanga are the basis of what cultural skills and capacity courses should strive to develop within organizational spaces. Having the ability to present in te reo Māori and to make connections, to better understand cultural processes and to adapt policies to be values-driven – these are safe, active and powerful ways for an organization adopt te ao Māori and build collective capacity within their teams.

Another factor that needs to be considered is the safety and, in some ways, the validation felt by minority or ethnic groups when an organization’s cultural capacity and understanding is enhanced.

It can also provide space for these groups to take on internal leadership roles and act as tuakana (older brother) to support development at all levels. In 2021, the Te Taunaki Civil Service Census reported that around 60% of Māori, Pacific and Asian respondents felt more valued for their cultural expertise, compared to 46% for Europeans. These statistics show that there is room for cultural collaboration in our organizations and still room to value and support diversity.

The idea of ​​cultural capacity is a seed that has grown for 182 years, Te Tiriti o Waitangi’s signature was one of the earliest expressions of cultural collaboration and capacity, learning te reo and Māori tikanga was essential to the creation of Te Tiriti. Because cultural collaboration, capacity, awareness and understanding is a national heritage, we all have a responsibility to share and learn about our unique cultural identity.


Children’s music group Loopy Tunes consists of two Christchurch sisters who write their own music incorporating te reo Māori.

Te ao Māori is a space of manaakitanga​ (support), whanaungatanga​ (creating relationships), aroha (compassion) and whānau (family). In my experience of supporting professionals on their journey to ao Māori tea, we often discuss their motivations for engaging in the course and the same sentiment is often found in all organizations: “I am on this journey to my whānau”.

And therein lies the importance of being culturally aware in Aotearoa, New Zealand. It’s about finding and creating connections between different aspects of our busy lives. Te ao Māori has space for your work, your friends, your whānau and for you.

As we head to Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, I encourage all of us to find ways in which te ao Māori can fit into our lives. It can be as simple as a karakia (blessing) in the morning or greeting people with “mōrena” (good morning) or “kia ora” (be well). There are many ways to contribute to the celebration of te reo Māori and in doing so we make the collective declaration as a nation, that participating in te ao Māori will not hinder your life, but will beautify and add value to your view of the world. .

Whaowhia te kete mātauranga, fill your basket with knowledge.

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