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Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The following are insights and perspectives gathered from professionals within the Access Trades sector. They are centred on discussions regarding their understanding and implementation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in training and the workplace. The findings emphasise the industry's recognition of the importance of establishing genuine relationships based on Māori values and principles. However, it also acknowledges the existing challenges and systemic issues that require attention to foster effective and meaningful partnerships.


The understanding and implementation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the Access Trades sector varies considerably. While some organisations demonstrate commendable practices aligning with Te Tiriti principles, others have significant gaps in knowledge and application, with a clear need for further progress. Several industry leaders emphasise the need for a true partnership between Māori and non-Māori in the Access Trades sector, where there is mutual respect for each other's values. They expressed that the concept of "Protection" in the Treaty of Waitangi context encompasses the creation of a supportive and inclusive environment. This includes creating an environment that welcomes and respects Māori culture and language. The industry discussed the importance of practices such as karakia, understanding and respecting Tikanga, Māori customs, values, and grieving processes, and the role these play in retaining skilled workers.

“It is being able to have a balance between Māori and non-Māori, getting the partnership correct.”

Māori leaders in the industry express pride in their cultural identity, viewing it as a strength both in their personal and professional lives. Despite facing systemic issues, they remain optimistic about the future, foreseeing positive societal changes ahead. Industry leaders across the sector are eager to establish partnerships with Māori communities, several leaders recognised the value of previous collaborations with Iwi, hapū and Māori immersion schools. They believe that these partnerships are essential to support Māori aspirations and achievements. The industry appreciates the contributions made by Māori and seeks to foster connections with Māori organisations. They underline the importance of diversity in the workforce and aim to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging.

“It’s just the same as respect, we need to respect their values and they need to respect ours.”

Industry leaders acknowledge the difficulties in initiating and navigating partnerships with Māori communities. There is a concern among middle management regarding the lack of knowledge and understanding of Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and the challenges in identifying the appropriate Iwi entities for partnership.  Several Industry leaders have expressed there is apprehension regarding unintentional offenses during partnership discussions and the need for guidance and support from cultural mentors or advisers.

Successful Implementations of Te Tiriti in the Access Trades

Certain organisations within the industry have made strides in honouring Te Tiriti principles. These successful leaders (Māori and non-Māori) recognise the importance of genuine partnerships with Māori communities, aligning their operations with Māori values, principles and methodologies. They create inclusive environments that welcome and respect Māori culture and language. These organisations have integrated Māori perspectives into their strategies, fostering a sense of belonging among Māori employees and thereby increasing staff retention.

Challenges and Gaps

Despite these positive examples, other industry leaders (Māori and non-Māori) struggle to navigate the intricacies of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Often, the challenges lie in a lack of cultural competency and awareness, leading to difficulties in initiating and navigating partnerships with Māori communities. This gap in understanding often stems from the insufficient training provided to staff members, especially middle management. The consequences are multifaceted, including underrepresentation of Māori in supervisory or managerial roles and the perpetuation of systemic issues, such as casual racism and power dynamics. As more organisations actively pursue cultural competency, the Access Trades sector can anticipate increased collaboration, mutual respect, and partnership with Māori communities. This will ultimately contribute to a more diverse, inclusive and harmonious working environment for all.

Māori in Industry and Training

“Incorporating or integrating Te Tiriti Waitangi and Māori & Pacific supportive frameworks in organisations, I think the best step for us is to just have a look to see who is doing it well.“

Interviewees highlighted the importance of culturally relevant and sensitive training programmes for Māori. A high demand for such programmes in the industry was indicated, signifying increased cultural awareness and inclusion from leaders in industry. There was acknowledgment from numerous leaders around the variation in cultural competency across training sessions and the need for cultural elements.

Within some of our other minority work groups it’s different again and they learn different ways. We’ve got massive cultural differences in how people take on instructions. Some of it really surprised me. We need to try and embrace that difference.”

An interviewee acknowledges that there is variation in cultural competency among trainers, noting that some trainers make genuine efforts to integrate cultural elements and focus on whakawhanaungatanga, which is the Māori concept of building relationships, at the outset of training sessions. They believe that beginning with this and acknowledging cultural aspects creates a more conducive and comfortable learning environment.

However, the interviewee also points out that not all trainers share this approach. Some trainers might not have the awareness or see the importance in incorporating cultural competency into their training. This can also be reflective of the company’s values and priorities; certain companies may not recognise the significance of cultural competency or may not allocate resources towards training their trainers in cultural sensitiveness. This scenario presents a missed opportunity for some companies and trainers. Fostering cultural competency in training sessions is not only respectful to the diversity of participants but can also enhance the effectiveness of training. When participants feel that their culture is acknowledged and valued, they are likely to be more engaged and receptive to the training content.

It is essential to acknowledge that the success and progression of Māori in the Access Trades sector greatly depend on the availability and accessibility of tailored training programmes. This involves creating educational resources that respect, acknowledge, and incorporate the cultural backgrounds and unique experiences of these communities.

Retention for Māori

It was apparent that organisations that place a high priority on whānau values, teamwork, and support for all employees achieve remarkable success in retaining staff. The low turnover rate observed within organisations serve as a clear indication of the effectiveness of this approach.  A positive organisational culture, prioritising whānau values, cultural sensitiveness, teamwork, and support for all employees was deemed important for attracting, retaining and progressing Māori employees.

Protection and Kaitiakitanga (Kaitiaki- Guardians: A kaitiaki is a person or group that is recognised as a guardian by the Tangata whenua (tribal group with authority in a particular area). For instance, a hapū (sub-tribe) may be the kaitiaki for a lake or a forest.)

An industry leader referred to the similarities between cultural values such as kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and environmental management. This speaker refers to protection in regard to Te Tiriti o Waitangi as creating an environment where Māori have the space to be authentic, respected and acknowledged when incorporating tikanga practices on site. They propose that micro-credentials could be a way to foster protection by encouraging kaitiakitanga and stewardship over land, waterways, and the environment.

“Some sites do it very, very well. They’re culturally very respectful. They engage the local iwi. They have a kaumātua down and they will bless the site. They will corner off areas of significance that’s got flax and natives, or they will very carefully lift them and place them where they’re going to be very early on. They really do it well.”

  • Variations in Understanding and Implementation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi

  • Importance of Partnership and Respect

  • Opportunities for Partnership and Engagement

  • Challenges in Navigating Partnerships

  • Underrepresentation of Māori

  • Cultural Competency in Training

  • Importance of organisational Culture and Support

  • Successful Implementations of Te Tiriti

  • Challenges and Gaps

  • Anticipated Collaboration and Inclusivity

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