Brooklyn Te Kani-Ruha, Te Toi o Ngā Rangi – Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts student, Toihoukura, EIT Tairāwhiti. Photo: EIT

Actively strengthening relationships with iwi Māori organisations in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti is a key focus for EIT as it transitions into the newly established Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology.

Te Pūkenga is working toward reimagining vocational learning and has committed to giving effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi through its operations. For EIT’s transition into Te Pūkenga, giving effect to Te Tiriti is about responding to the needs of iwi Māori stakeholders, recognising and addressing the unique needs of Māori learners and staff, and exploring the integration of local mātauranga Māori. It’s about strengthening ties with local iwi Māori groups for EIT to increase opportunities for Māori internally and externally.

Over the years EIT has established and maintained relationships within the broader community. These relationships have included local businesses, community organisations and iwi Māori groups in both Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti. EIT has continued to shape our operations around the demands of our learners and stakeholders. Our staff come from the community, are based within the community and continue to engage with the community because our local relationships are important. 

In light of the expectations created by Te Pūkenga around Te Tiriti, and as EIT’s recently appointed Executive Director Māori, it is now more than ever important to ensure that partnerships with iwi Māori groups are beneficial to EIT but more importantly to iwi Māori.

As members of our local community we provide support in a very organic way – including with iwi Māori groups. We support local initiatives like Te Ahu o te Reo Māori, some programmes engage mana whenua to develop and deliver tailored training, and the recently established rangahau Māori centre within EIT explores kaupapa of relevance to local whānau and hapū. 

One of my key priorities is to grow our ability to support the local Māori economy by being intentional in our engagements to train iwi Māori workforce and deliver on iwi Māori priorities. How can we create regular opportunities for EIT learners and staff to practice in Māori organisations and environments? EIT has taught carpentry to whānau and hapū on their marae while they contribute to marae building projects and have also placed nursing students alongside nurses of Māori health organisations while completing clinical placement. Why can’t we ensure all learners have the opportunity to undertake part of their learning in a Māori context?

We are fortunate to have a variety of iwi Māori organisations within the Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti regions. These organisations collectively support cultural regeneration efforts but are also engaged in areas like health, housing, education, horticulture, and environmental protection. EIT has and continues to support iwi Māori engagement in these areas. 

However, there is an opportunity through Te Pūkenga to connect our regions with a national suite of training and opportunities that can align directly with the varying priorities of iwi Māori groups. Strengthening the relationships with local iwi Māori groups is an introduction into the broader networks of opportunities.

Te Ara o Tākitimu is a student support initiative that is delivered in partnership with Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated. The initiative empowers Māori and Pasifika pre-trades learners in Hawke’s Bay, so they are confident to engage with their studies to achieve their goals. 

This support is continued for the building and construction learners that are part of this initiative if they choose to pathway into an apprenticeship with K3 – a property development company wholly owned by the Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Asset Holding Company. K3 is a growing entity which wants to enable whānau and hapū to build homes for the hapori or community. The partnership with Ngāti Kahungunu in the building and construction sector adds value to EIT programme content and delivery but (fingers crossed) also leads to enriching iwi-based priorities and initiatives within the community. 

Working directly with iwi Māori, in their spaces, and toward their priorities helps to inform our institution on how to be more responsive to the needs of iwi Māori. These are the best experiences to learn what Tiriti partnership looks like in practice – getting in there and doing it with and for the people. The need to integrate mātauranga Māori within the operations of Te Pūkenga is a focus for the network. We want our approach to engage our learners and staff with mātauranga Māori that is driven by and for the local communities we support and from within a Māori context. This process for us starts with the strengthening of our iwi Māori partnerships. 

One of my roles at the moment is to explore what local iwi Māori priorities are. Once we identify what these priorities are, we can explore how we might contribute to achieving these through training and or through regular engagement. Colleagues across the Te Pūkenga network are building relationships in our respective communities in different ways. This is important because we want to be responsive to the environments we are in. These learnings are then shared throughout the network as lessons for others.

We don’t all look the same and our iwi Māori groups don’t look the same either. What connects the initiatives across the network are the same philosophies and the same general approaches. There is a definite correlation across the network, but there’s also a whole lot of individual learnings that are coming out now that we are beginning to work closer together. We are starting to see the similarities, but also the differences and this is enriching our own practices.

The transition to Te Pūkenga is an opportunity for EIT to provide a greater network to achieve local priorities. It’s not a one size fits all, but rather an overarching philosophy that draws on the strengths of the different regions. It’s exciting that Te Pūkenga is encouraging our network to think about and prioritise Tiriti partnerships and excellence. 

In my opinion, the cornerstone to Tiriti excellence is a solid relationship with our Tiriti partners that demonstrates mutual benefit. We are not there yet – but we’re making a start by strengthening our ties with local iwi Māori. 


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