By Petrina Wright | Posted: Thursday July 20, 2023
The recent signing of Presbyterian Support New Zealand’s (PSNZ) tāngata whenua policy Te Pātikitiki o Kotahitanga marks a significant step in PS’ cultural haerenga (journey).
The revised policy was signed in Wellington on May 2 by members of the PSNZ National Council, National Executive Board and Te Kahui Rangatira.
Presbyterian Support Southland (PSS) chief executive Matt Russell said the completion and sign-off of Te Pātikitiki o Kotahitanga represented an exciting milestone for PSS on its cultural haerenga.
“It is particularly special that we have been able to arrive at this milestone together with our partner Presbyterian Support regions from around the country.”
The overarching goal of the policy is to ensure PS operates in a culturally inclusive way at all levels of engagement and operation.
PSS Pou Tohu Tohu Ahurea Māori Michelle Ryland was part of Te Kahui Rangatira, the national group which reviewed the policy.
Te Kahui Rangatira, consisting of each PS region’s Pou Tohu Tohu Ahurea Māori/cultural advisor or senior Māori practitioner, provides guidance to PSNZ National Council and PS National Executive Group regarding matters relevant to the delivery of organisational strategic objectives, particularly for Māori.
Michelle said it was a privilege, as a member of Kahui Rangitira, to elevate the mana of the Tāngata Whenua policy for PSNZ.
“…[this policy] shows our continued commitment to working to enhance quality of life for Māori clients by providing high quality services honouring our responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and developing organisational procedures and practices which are inclusive of Māori cultural concepts, beliefs and practices.”
In practice this means such things as building meaningful relationships at an organisational level with runanga, iwi, marae, iwi organisations and Māori providers, proactively offering opportunities for Māori participation on committees, panels or governance boards and encouraging staff participation in Māori community programmes. It also means supporting services to be responsive to the values and beliefs of Māori, understanding the importance of whānau support for whānau wellbeing, providing a culturally safe working environment for all staff and continuing to use appropriate Te Reo skills at all levels across the organisation.
Michelle said Te Pātikitiki o Kotahitanga demonstrated PS’ desire to be solutions-focused in all interactions with Māori partners and whānau.
“It’s incredibly humbling to work for an organisation which has a commitment to creating a workforce that is respectful and responsive to Māori whilst providing opportunities for Māori to be involved in service design and organisational decision-making.”
Te Pātikitiki o Kotahitanga takes its metaphoric concept from raranga (a Māori weaving style used for baskets) kete and its interwoven pātikitiki pattern construct that in its finished state allows the kete to hold and carry with strength and flexibility any kaupapa (policy/idea) placed in it.
The polished side of the kohatu pakohe sat as the kaitiaki (guardian and protector) so the wairua (spirit or soul) could be felt as the document was signed with the kohatu pakohe igniting its mauri as it was gently rubbed. The signed document was placed in the kete and will be returned to our national office with the kohatu pakohe protecting it, its mauri (life force) holding its essence.