Te Wiki o te Reo Māori i Russell McVeagh

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Published on: September 15, 2017


This year's theme for te wiki o te reo Māori is 'Kia ora te reo Māori' –  'kia ora' literally translates to 'to have life/be well' and has been integral to Russell McVeagh's focus around important concepts within te Ao Māori (the Māori world) throughout this week. The theme is the intent of the new partnerships for te reo Māori revitalisation between the Crown and Māori under the new Māori Languages Act 2016. 

At Russell McVeagh, diversity is actively encouraged and HR Director Lesley Elvidge says te wiki o te reo Māori provides an opportunity to highlight the importance of creating an inclusive working environment and celebrating Māori culture, with a range of activities offered for staff to get involved in and learn more about tikanga Māori and practice their te reo.

Across the week, the Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) office enjoyed a kapa haka performance presented by Te Rākau Ture, from the University of Auckland Māori Law Students' Association, and were treated to fry bread provided by the AUT Māori Law Society, Titahi ki Tua. For Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) office, Russell McVeagh's te reo Māori teacher came in and spoke to staff about pōwhiri, the Māori welcoming ceremony, and the tradition and protocols around karakia (opening prayer), kōrero (speeches), waiata (singing) and hongi. In both offices, staff have been practicing te reo words and phrases, attending seminars on 'Engaging with Māori in Business', and movie screenings of Poi E have been held to mark the occasion.

Some key themes of focus for the firm have included:

  • Kaitiakitanga – guardianship, protection, preservation or sheltering.

This principle is about responsible environmental management and sustainable enterprise. It includes taking care of assets for future generations, as opposed to ownership and the right to divest assets. A kaitiaki is a guardian, this can be a person or a group that cares for an area such as a lake or forest. Kaitiakitanga encompasses many practices of environmental sustainability such as putting restrictions (rāhui) on the unsustainable exploitation of resources such as birds and seafood. 

  • Manaakitanga: hospitality, generosity, care, and giving. 

Manaakitanga plays a key role in Māori society and encompasses reciprocal hospitality and respect from one individual or group to another.  It acknowledges the mana (prestige) of others as having equal or greater importance than your own. In showing manaakitanga, all parties are elevated and the host's status is enhanced, building unity through humility and the act of giving. A group or organisation should be able to host and provide for people appropriately. Resources must be allocated for this purpose.

  • Whanaungatanga: an ethic of belonging, kinship.

This is an important concept within te Ao Māori and te kaupapa pakihi (the foundations of business). Whether your waka is an Airbus A320 or something a bit more traditional, it's important to recognise and nurture the sense of community that we all share.

This principle acknowledges the importance of networks and relationships and, therefore, of developing, managing, and sustaining relationships. It involves caring for and working harmoniously with others to achieve common goals using relational strategies such as tuakana-teina (mentor – mentee). Whanaungatanga is expressed in a variety of ways in business settings; for example: culture, whānau-model systems and structures, support for and employment of whānau, use of whānau networks, and whānau support for the business. A downside is that a sense of obligation to whānau, and whānau expectations, can create problems for a business.

  • Pepeha: an introductory speech based on whakapapa (genealogy). 

A pepeha is often recited during the mihimihi (introductory speech) and as such it begins and ends with an appropriate greeting, such as tēnā koutou katoa (Greetings to you all) and nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, or tēnā koutou katoa (therefore, greetings, thrice over). A pepeha can take many different forms and structures. 

If you would like to know more about the work we do in the Māori legal space and our Ngā Manu Tāiko (Māori legal team), please get in touch. 

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