The Joyous Te Reo Māori Project: Helping 100,000 kiwi employees improve their Te Reo Māori

We want to help 100,000 kiwis regularly improve their Te Reo Māori using Joyous. Why? Keeping it alive keeps our culture thriving and enriches the lives of all New Zealanders.

Our goal: Help 100,000 kiwi employees improve their Te Reo Māori using Joyous.

Diversity and inclusion is essential for the continued growth and success of Aoteoroa New Zealand. In October last year I knew I wanted to do my part to support this mission. But I didn't know where to start. I spoke with many people about this broad and complex topic. At first my aim was to support more women into roles in the technology sector.

At the start of 2021 someone told me: "If you want to help women in New Zealand, start with understanding Māori culture first."

Intrigued, I felt a duty to learn more. My ancestors come from Urope (Europe) and Ingārangi (England). I am from Awherika ki te tonga (South Africa). I have lived in Aoteoroa New Zealand for 13 years. I am a Kiwi both on paper and in my ngakau (heart).

On 18 March 2021 I started the renowned Te Kaa Māori cultural competency course, lead by Precious Clarke. Over the next three months I learned so much. I had built my own pepeha (a Māori introduction). I learned a variety of opening and closing greetings for speeches. I also learned several waiata (songs).

I now understand words like tikanga, mana, tapu, noa, mauri and wairua. I helped to retell the Māori creation story. I learned about Māori social structures and values such as kaitiakitanga (guardianship and protection) and manaakitanga (extending love and compassion to others).

I learned all about the Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi). Now I understand the context in which it was created. And I understand the differences in interpretation between the Te Reo Māori and English version.

Together my class assessed the current post-treaty settlement environment and its impact on business and the economy. I began to consider how the Treaty relates to me as an individual and to Joyous, our organization here and now.

Towards the end of our course we explored Māori today. We looked at Iwi, their structures and aspirations. We examined the impacts of treaty settlements on the Māori economy. I learned the significance of the pōwhiri process, the different domains of the marae, and I learned about the Māori engagement processes.

Our last day of the course, spent on the Marae with our instructors and whanau (family).

On my last day we visited the Ōrākei Marae, where we put into practice what we learned. I was gifted a pounamu upon graduating and it was named especially for me. Kaitiaki pūnaha urupare (Guardian of feedback).

My pounamu - Kaitiaki pūnaha urupare (Guardian of feedback). Named by CJ Gilbert.

On that last day we were each asked to reflect on our journey and talk about our plans for the future. By that point it was clear what I wanted to do. I settled on three projects to support diversity and inclusion.

While learning the Māori alphabet I also learned that Te Reo Māori is on a path to extinction. We want to help 100,000 kiwis regularly improve their Te Reo Māori using Joyous. Why? Keeping it alive keeps our culture thriving and enriches the lives of all New Zealanders.

This is the first project. And I'm so pleased that it is finally coming to life!

For those new to Joyous - we help people have mana enhancing conversations at work. We make employee feedback simple, open and friendly. Many Kiwi organisations use Joyous to start focused weekly conversations. Most start with two questions from the Joyous library of conversation sets.

Joyous questions displayed in dual language.

This is your call to action to help us reach our goal. Can we count you in?

I'd love to talk to you about using Joyous for your organization. Or you can use a translated set from our library of questions, such as The Te Reo Māori Employee Experience EX Genome Project which you can download from the link below - for free.

If you use this set you will have enough conversation starters to run for a year. Using this will not only help us achieve our goal, it will also make life better for people at your organization. Each conversation starter is designed to build relationships and surface easy opportunities for change for your employees and leaders.

Please let us know if you decide to join the project so we can add you to the count as we strive towards reaching our goal.

Mauri ora, Ruby Kolesky

September 13, 2021