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03 December 2019 | Diversity and Inclusion

Embedding Māori culture and ideals into our own

Like many New Zealand companies, over the last few years more attention has been paid to adequately incorporating Māori words, values and beliefs into the DNA of an organisation.

The Warehouse Group has been making a concerted effort to be more inclusive when it comes to celebrating and acknowledging Aotearoa’s biculturalism. This has in part been done through celebrating events like Matariki and Māori Language Week, and by making Māori cultural integration a key pillar of our diversity and inclusion strategy.

Earlier this year we partnered with Precious Clark, Managing Director of Maurea Consulting to provide advice and training to our senior leadership team, educating them on te reo Māori, the Māori culture and teaching them their pepeha and mihi in the Te Kaa training course.

The Te Kaa course, held over five sessions for eight team members on our senior leadership team, including the CEOs of four of our brands, recently culminated with a visit to Orakei Marae.

There, attendees took part in Māori protocol, delivered their pepehas and heard from a panel of knowledgeable Māori commercial, cultural and artistic entrepreneurs and experts in Māori.

“The Te Kaa course was a truly insightful and humbling experience. Not only did it deepen my own connection with Māori culture, language and values, but it gave me a new perspective on our role as an organisation to help keep the ideals and values of Māori culture alive,” says Pejman Okhovat, Chief Executive Officer at The Warehouse and Warehouse Stationery.

“The culminating trip to Orakei Marae where we learned from leaders in the Māori community inspired me to keep seeking out ways to bring change to Aotearoa by prioritising the environment in everything we do, says David Benattar, Chief Sustainability Officer at The Warehouse Group.

As part of the course attendees learned about Māori concepts like Rangatiratanga, Kaitiakitanga, Manaakitanga and Whānaungatanga. It was clear that the values of Kaitiakitanga and Whānaungatanga in particular align closely with our own values as an organisation as it relates to the environment and sustainability.

Kaitiakitanga Is about the connection between people and the natural world. As humans, it is our obligation as guardians of the natural environment to look after resources and ensure their survival for future generations, which also means making sure best practices and materials are used in the production of goods.

We’re continually improving our efforts in this space by assessing the materials our products are made from, evaluating the packaging that accompanies those products and the steps that consumers can take once the product and packaging has reached the end of its life.

Whānaungatanga focuses on the importance of relationships and the interdependence with other people and all things in the natural world. It creates a sense of belonging and focuses on working together and making decisions for the collective good of all the community, rather than just some individuals.

For us, our community initiatives are a key pillar of our organisation. We realise that as a company with an immense presence in New Zealand, it’s our duty to unite others and inspire them to make change by helping those in need, whether it be through community fundraising, education around living sustainably or looking beyond our own backyard to help others.

We look forward to continuing our work with Precious and Maurea Consulting as we work towards becoming a truly bicultural organisaition.

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