Tourism Industry Aotearoa will weave Te Ao Māori into the way it operates, making a formal commitment this week to establishing cultural competency in Māori tikanga.
The statement of commitment was written under the guidance of the tourism body’s board director Kauahi Ngapora.
An engagement and competency plan has also been established to incorporate Māori culture into the organisation in a respectful way that shows leadership within the industry.
“As the peak industry body for tourism in New Zealand, we recognise that Māori culture is not only our unique point of difference in this world, but an integral part of what sets us apart as New Zealanders,” said CEO Chris Roberts.
“We must show leadership by our actions and acknowledge the important role Māori culture plays now and in the future for the New Zealand tourism industry.”
The engagement plan outlines short term initiatives, such as supporting staff and board members in learning karakia, waiata and their introductory mihi, introducing te reo in the signage of the organisation’s offices, and ensuring correct use of macrons in all its material.
Longer term goals include organising an annual wānanga for the team on a marae to learn about Mātauranga Māori, tikanga, language and stories of the area.
The organisation will also look into appointing a cultural advisor to suitably support the Board, CEO and team with their journey, develop a cultural strategy and support engagement with Māori.
“TIA recognises that the statement of commitment is just one step of a journey towards establishing conscious competency, which will take time to realise,” said Mr Roberts.
“We want to establish genuine commitment to Te Ao Māori and create long-term change in our organisation, rather than just ticking a box.”
The organisation changed its name from Tourism Industry Association New Zealand to Tourism Industry Aotearoa in May 2016, to better reflect and acknowledge the importance of Māori culture.
It embraces the three values of manaakitanga (showing great hospitality and generosity to visitors), kaitiakitanga (guarding and protecting our natural and cultural resources) and whanaungatanga (a relationship through shared experiences and working together to provide a sense of belonging) which have been widely adopted as guiding principles within the industry.
“We don’t have words in English that are as good as these three words in terms of describing the tourism industry’s aims,” says Mr Roberts.
“We encourage others in the industry to consider making steps towards embracing Te Ao Māori.”