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  • Writer's pictureSara Broadhurst

Don't let it be a once a year thing!

If you're thinking "Oh well, that's te wiki o te reo Māori done for another year, what's next?" this post probably isn't for you...

If, however, you're wondering how you could better embed te reo Māori in your organisation which largely operates in te ao Pākehā, then maybe there are some ideas here for you. Full transparency upfront is that I am Pākehā, with fairly limited skills in te ao Māori. I don't, for a second, propose to speak on behalf of my Māori colleagues but nor do I expect them to do all the heavy lifting to work out how we can better incorporate te reo Māori in our organisational cultures, in a way which is authentic rather than performative. Maybe none of these ideas will feel particularly new to you - in which case, the challenge is "Which one will you take consistent action on?"

  1. Start with yourself. There are lots of resources available to help you learn Te Reo Māori. You can take a class, use a language app, or find online resources. Even learning a few basic phrases can make a big statement about what is important to you and provide support for others.

  2. Create a supportive environment. If you want to encourage your people to use te reo Māori in the workplace, you need to create a supportive environment. This means making it clear that te reo Māori is welcome and valued in your business. You can do this through offering te reo Māori classes during work time, provide opportunities for your people to learn and practice in everyday interactions, encourage your people and customers to use te reo Māori in meetings and other workplace interactions.

  3. Engage with your broader Māori community. This could involve partnering with Māori led or owned businesses, sponsoring events important to local Māori, or making the effort to connect with and listen to your local iwi and Māori community leaders.

  4. Be led by your employees. This is our advice at Fortis Street for all businesses that want to embed anything in their culture. Your people know what's what. Actually, if you just talk to, listen and provide the space for your people to to take the lead, things happen much faster and are much more likely to stick. Look for interest, ask your people what they think would make a difference, ask them to create, cost and enable the plan, provide them with an effective executive sponsor and then... watch them go!

There are plenty of businesses in Aotearoa New Zealand who are working in this space because they know that by embedding te reo Māori in their business, (truly embedding it, not just a once a year morning tea) you can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all New Zealanders, weave emotional ties and meaning with your people and strengthen your relationships with local communities. Organisations who don't do these things will just get left behind.

What do you think? What have you seen work really well in an organisation you've worked in?.

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