Banking on Māori

Westpac Chief Executive Officer Ann Sherry says that Westpac is aware of the important place held in its customer base by hundreds of Māori businesses and entrepreneurs around the country. Westpac and the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development (NZBCSD) engaged in a joint project aimed at helping Māori organisations turn Treaty Settlements into sustainable enterprise.

For Westpac, the project was "firstly about a common-sense commitment to the social and economic sustainability of our customers and the communities where we operate," Ann Sherry says. "It is also about recognising the importance of the contribution made to New Zealand by the Māori economy as a whole.

Māori success is a broad, economic issue not just for iwi and the Government, but private enterprise as well. So it is entirely appropriate that Westpac gets involved with something this important to the economic future of the country."


Consulting with Māori

Living Earth, a subsidiary of Waste Management NZ Limited, is a composting operation that diverts and utilises organic components from the overall waste stream.

A key feature of the consenting process for the Wellington plant involved consulting with the Māori communities of the region, and negotiating on a range of significant cultural issues relating to the composting of biosolids.

The first issue was whether it was acceptable for composted human bodily waste to be applied on land where food would later be grown. Another question was whether the re-establishment of a natural composting cycle would be more in harmony with Māori traditions and beliefs than the alternative disposal of the biosolids in the Owhiro Valley landfill.

In 2002, Living Earth facilitated dialogue within and between the communities involved. A key characteristic of Māori culture is the process of consensus decision-making. While a range of viewpoints was advanced during the debate, all Māori groups involved eventually decided that they would not object to the biosolids composting plant.

Looking to the future

Auckland glass manufacturer O-I New Zealand has found that since it introduced training, education and health programmes, absenteeism and overtime hours worked have decreased at its Penrose factory. It was obvious the company needed to be proactive in upskilling staff and training new staff as a third of the workforce was over 55 years old and a serious skills shortage was looming as this group moved towards retirement.

The introduction of new technology throughout the plant also brought new challenges. In association with the New Zealand Engineers, Printing & Manufacturing Union, the company committed itself to changing its culture to improve succession planning, communication, productivity, and health and safety.

The Milestone Learning Centre was established on-site to provide literacy and numeracy skills, as well as glass and generic manufacturing skills. The company employs a training manager, a manufacturing tutor and a literacy tutor. Workers can access the learning centre 24 hours a day. Health and safety have improved enormously. As a result of increased employee literacy and worker involvement in safety committees and audits, the company has exceeded three years without a lost-time injury.

Performance and productivity are also high, with the plant consistently achieving the best performance of O-I's international operations.

Prioritising safety

New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS), winner of the 2003 New Zealand Business Ethics Award, provides an example of commitment and world leadership in health and safety:

NZAS believes all injuries can be eliminated and that no injury is acceptable in its business. The "Goal of Zero" injuries is an integral part of the NZAS "Strategic Map" and is linked to key results areas. NZAS was judged the World's Best Performer by the London-based International Aluminium Institute (IAI) in its annual safety performance benchmarking in May 2004. In that year its lost time injury frequency rate was 0.45.

Incorporating Māori ritual

Toll NZ Consolidated is a 24-7 operation which offers rail, road, sea, air and port logistics throughout New Zealand. At least two-thirds of Toll NZ's 3,000 strong workforce are operational, often undertaking dangerous work.

Of this group, approximately 15% are Māori or Pacific Island. In 1989, a Māori network called Te Kupenga Mahi (TKM) was initiated by a group of Māori employees. TKM enables Māori staff to collectively present Māori issues to the company. The network also provides advice to the company on policy development and other cultural matters. TKM is open to all staff. Its mission statement is: "Te Kupenga Mahi in partnership with Toll NZ will strive to promote a work environment whereby Māori staff are able to promote aspects of their culture and values and contribute to the growth of Toll NZ."

In 2001, Te Pure (ritual cleansing of sites and machinery) was initiated. Te Pure allows the lifting of tapu from a work site, vehicle or machinery that has been involved in an accident leading to serious injury or death. In Te Pure, a kaumātua (elder) recites karakia (prayers) while cleansing the machine or land with water. Anyone is welcome to attend the ceremony, which can provide people with a sense of closure and a final chance to say goodbye.

The Ngai Tahu approach

Shotover Jet is a publicly listed company 88% owned by Ngai Tahu Tourism. The Shotover Group involves a number of subsidiary companies including Dart River Safari, Shotover Queenstown, Hollyford Valley Walks, Franz Josef Glacier Guiding (50/50 joint venture), Huka Jet, Jet Fiji and Rainbow Springs.

Externally, Shotover identifies its relationship with its shareholders, including Ngai Tahu, as being very important. There are four directors on the Shotover Board. Two of the directors are Ngai Tahu appointments. Shotover engages with its stakeholders at multiple levels. At the tribal level it participates in the Ngai Tahu hui-a-tau with representation from senior managers. Shotover sees this as a natural part of maintaining effective relationships with its shareholders.

Shotover's Commercial Manager, Rakihia Tau, notes: "From a Ngai Tahu perspective - good financial results are obviously important. However, it goes a lot deeper than that. At the end of the day I believe our Ngai Tahu shareholders want to also have a sense of pride in their companies. That pride might be reflected in obvious things such as financial results, good press, excellent employers and the like. However, it could also be measured in more simple things, such as having a recognised brand incorporating something that is important to Ngai Tahu people. Good performance in areas like this will give shareholders a personal and emotional stake in the company."

Valuing culture

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is New Zealand's largest government department with over 6,580 staff working out of 170 locations throughout the country. Te Aratiatia is a leadership development programme for Māori and Pacific staff currently working in MSD in non-management roles.

The aim of the programme, launched in 2001, was to prepare a group of "high performing" staff for management roles within MSD by developing their leadership and management skills, and helping them to learn more about themselves and the organisation.

Between 2001 and 2004 there were three Te Aratiatia programmes consisting of four one-week blocks of training covering management skills and opportunities to assess and develop self-awareness skills. Leaders from MSD and the other public service organisations presented to the group on their own career and management experiences. Each week of training was followed by two weeks' work on a project allocated to them by their region/business unit.

Out of 35 participants, 16 (47%) have been appointed to management positions. This has contributed to an increase in the percentage of Māori and Pacific staff in new manager positions from 23% in 2001 to 41% in 2005. Te Aratiatia recognises that participants' cultural identity, knowledge and skills add richness and value to MSD and encourages participants to see these as strengths.

Monitoring ethnicity

"TVNZ decided to begin monitoring its performance on equal employment opportunities at the end of 2003. This made absolute sense for us, not only because of our new TVNZ Charter with its statements about support for communities and for wide audience inclusiveness, but because we are ourselves a diverse workforce and it was time to check how equitably opportunities presented themselves to our employees."

" . . . We discovered that less than half of our people were interested in describing themselves in terms of ethnicity and that, where there was dual ethnicity and one half was European, they generally chose to identify themselves as European. This was a surprise and also, of course, makes it very difficult to get meaningful data. We notice, though, that most job applicants and new joiners are more open to it, so over time the proportion of employees reporting ethnicity will grow."
Sidney Smith, former Head of Human Resources, TVNZ

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