Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

Diversity and inclusion September 14, 2022

Nurture the seed and it will grow

Our Chief People Officer Helen Sedcole reflects on how Z is celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Māori and our commitment to Te Ao Māori.

We celebrated Te Wiki o te Reo Māori across our offices this week, a week which for the Z team we see as a chance to reflect on our hikoi. In a previous post, I reflected that it’s easy to feel like we shouldn’t share our story until it’s fully formed, but we think that sharing our learning is another way to encourage progress not perfection.

The whakataukī above reflects the approach we continue to take with Te Ao Māori – we’re ‘nurturing the seed’. As a company we’re committed to creating an inclusive and diverse workplace, with a fundamental value that people at Z bring their whole selves to work.

We’ve been on this path for a while, with strong champions who have continued our commitment to Te Ao Māori. We’ve integrated tikanga practices into our on-boarding, translated our job titles for our people to use in their email signatures, and embedded whakataukī across our corporate offices, highlighting the rooms’ purposes for collaboration and collective achievement.

We’re now in our fifth year of our TupuToa Internship, a programme that creates pathways for Māori and Pasifika students in the corporate and professional sector. We’ve had the privilege of working with some stunning interns and know that through TupuToa, we are better able to develop a workforce that’s more diverse and culturally competent.

We’ve recently stood up our Māori ally network, a natural continuation of our informal whānau group. Mystery (Retail Promotional Coordinator and manager of Z’s onsite café) got involved because she studied te reo throughout high school and wanted to continue learning. “I still consider myself a beginner, with basic conversational te reo. We facilitated a six-week course for anyone in the office who was interested. It was just one hour a week, teaching the basics, including how to structure your pepeha as well as some tīkanga and hitori. “It was so cool to see people getting into it, and now it’s ingrained into who we are as a company. Teaching people is also a great way to learn,” Mystery notes.

We’re creating a safe and supportive environment for our people to learn Te Ao Māori: Building cultural awareness and helping ourselves to better understand and pronounce basic te reo. To further our commitment, we have formed a partnership with Education Perfect, a teaching organisation that offers a comprehensive Te Ao Māori learning programme online course as well as face-to-face learning, with an impressive 20% of our people signing up for the first course.

While much of our work so far has shown up in our corporate offices, we are nurturing te reo in our customer facing activity as well. You may have seen our new brand ad on TV and in social channels – we’re hugely proud of the mahi that went into this representing our brand and our commitment to Aotearoa. For me it truly is a moving waiata, built off shared ambition and passion. Rob Ruha and Ray Edwards led the charge in bringing this to life.

What's coming next? We’ll keep on nurturing the seed... We’ll continue to keep our fun and supportive learning environment alive so that te reo can thrive. As an organisation we’re learning more about Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and we’ll continue to weave more Te Ao Māori into our way of working at Z. This will include exploring how we can be more inclusive in our physical environment, our policies and our practices in a way that feels Z and reflects what matters most to our people. We’ll continue to provide formal learning opportunities and create space for people to explore Te Ao Māori.

So next time you see me, remember to ask me how we’re going and, please, share your journey – whatever stage of the hikoi you’re at.