July 3, 2023

Our journey so far 

The resonating call of the kaikaranga followed by the unified voices performing Tōia Mai (welcoming haka) were the first sounds embracing community, partners, and whānau to the launch of the Sport Waitākere Impact Strategy and official opening of the new office. 

Weeks of dedicated practice went into preparing for the opening day pōhiri, but the path to reaching this milestone has taken years.  

Humble Beginnings  

“The cultural capability journey for Sport Waitākere started nearly 20 years ago, but there are certain points throughout its history which categorically shaped the organisation that we see today”, Kerry Allan, Manager and Impact Strategist for the Healthy Families Waitākere team at Sport Waitākere explains.  

Across this time, Sport Waitākere has created several policy and strategy iterations, each building on the last, to reflect the organisation’s intentions of becoming an authentic Treaty partner which focuses on improving outcomes for Māori people in West Auckland. David George, Sport Waitākere CEO explains. 

“Sport Waitākere isn’t a Māori or iwi-led organisation, but as a workforce, we understand our position in supporting Māori people to lead the way to progress their collective aspirations for their people. With the launch of our Impact Strategy, we are in a place now where we can put our plans into action.” 

Support and influence 

Several contracts and workforce appointments enabled Sport Waitākere to delve deeper into what being a valuable Treaty partner looks like. He Oranga Poutama, a Sport NZ contract, alongside the appointment of Mike Tipene Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, bedded in the workforce focus on equitable outcomes. Allan continues.   

“Our connection with He Oranga Poutama (HOP) was a key partnership that helped set us on the path we’re on today. We were very fortunate to have developed a strong relationship with the team, who heavily influenced and supported us to change some of our internal processes and jumpstarted the wider teams journey into learning te reo Māori, tikanga Māori, pepeha, mihimihi, karakia, and waiata.” 

An addition to the HOP team in 2019, brought Mike Tipene onboard to develop the cultural capability of the four Regional Sports Trusts (RST) in Tāmaki Makaurau. Tipene explains.  

In his role with HOP, Mike Tipene was tasked with developing the cultural capability of the four Regional Sports Trusts (RST) in Tāmaki Makaurau. Tipene explains. 

“When I came into the role there were no tane Māori at Sport Waitākere to deliver the mihi for the whakatau process. To address this, we collectively decided to form a tane group, a safe space for the men to share their experiences and knowledge, but to also develop their ability and confidence to kōrero (speak) on behalf of the organisation during the welcoming process.” 

These acts and the buy in from the workforce sent the organisation on a trajectory from strength to strength. 

Aspirations for the future 

In March of this year, Sport Waitākere welcomed Paora Allen as the Māori Outcomes Advisor. In his role, Allen spearheaded the preparation and capability build efforts which helped the team pōhiri the community into the new office. 

Toia mai te waka, ki te ururnga, ki te moenga, ki te takotoranga i takoto ai. Haul the canoe to the entrance, to the place where it can lie, to the place where it will rest.  

The words of Tōia Mai describe the act of hauling a waka to shore, symbolising all the things that the manuhiri bring with them; their histories, languages, ancestors, and everything that makes them who they are.  

“When we perform this haka pōhiri we are offering a safe place for you to be you and the assurance that we will manaaki (care for) you. It’s important that our organisation continues to learn and grow because at the heart of it all, is manaaki tangata (the process of showing respect, generosity and care for people)”, explains Allen. 

Allen says that his vision for the organisation is to get to a point where everyone in the team can confidently participate in and run a pōhiri or whakatau.   

“I want every person in this organisation to be self assured in their role during this process. Many Māori in the workforce can often feel pressured to deliver Māori processes and this is one way to ease that pressure on our Māori team members, and to empower our Tāngata Tiriti team members.”  

The journey for Sport Waitākere is ongoing, and the organisation is committed to building on the mātauranga (knowledge) which has been generously gifted.  

“I’m incredibly proud of the team and what we have accomplished so far. We’ve gotten a lot of supportive feedback from manuhiri who are also encouraging us to continue this path. I think the kaikōrero for our manuhiri Te Mete Lowman, summed it up nicely, what we’ve achieved as a non-Māori organisation is great, but it’s just the beginning”, says George.  

The Sport Waitākere Impact Strategy one pager is now available, click here