Introducing our Mana Whakahaere

Emerge Aotearoa’s new Mana Whakahaere says the organisation has an opportunity to be a leader in the way an organisation achieves equity and better outcomes for Māori by embracing Te Ao Māori principles.

Mana Parata is leading the way by introducing new initiatives that focus on our strategic pou of Māori succeeding as Māori, and putting a cultural lens across our organisation. “Emerge could absolutely become a leader in this field,” he says. “Some hard questions and challenges are being put to leadership about what we are doing in these pou areas.”

“It’s really activating the heart of the organisation…bringing us back to the culture of why we are here, which is for the people we support.”

With a background in IT, Mana was working as a business services manager for Emerge Aotearoa when he was encouraged by senior leadership to take on the role of Kaiwhakatere (navigator on the waka). Signing on for an initial three-month contract, he was able to build a team in a truly Te Ao Māori way. During the interview process, prospective employees and whānau shared mihimihi, kai and kōrero. All of the Kaiārahi were then brought together at Rāpaki Marae for a mihi whakatau and an induction noho. On completion of the noho, the team were gifted a pounamu handcrafted from the same stone. 

“We started everyone on the kaupapa at the same time, which is a unique situation to be in and it worked really well,” he says.

 Mana describes the Mana Whakahaere role as developing understanding of the Te Ao Māori environment, bedding in more Te Tiriti-based practise within the organisation at all levels, building strong partnerships, and supporting senior management. Now, on a 12-month contract, he has developed the Te Puna Ora team, and now forming a management structure underneath the Mana Whakahaere role, which includes a Pouako (who oversees cultural competency and training), Poupono (who oversees Treaty coaching) and Pouārahi (who oversees kaiārahi, formerly known as cultural partners).

“The Kaupapa around Māori succeeding as Māori is quite edgy,” Mana says. “What I want to do is see where this takes us in terms of structure and delivery. There’s a real purpose to delivering a service that is equitable for Māori, that provides options for Māori, and opportunities for kaimahi to serve people in a more Māori way.”

“Ultimately, we’re looking for better outcomes for Māori. The challenge is making sure that we can bring the organisation along to achieve this, and bring our competency to the right levels so we can do it in a meaningful rather than ceremonial way.

“There’s a couple of phrases that get put out there…Māori for Māori, Māori by Māori, Māori succeeding as Māori…if we can start to embed this thinking within our organisation, and I think there’s a real appetite to start doing this, we can certainly start to lead this space quite quickly.”

“The outcomes will be amazing. People will truly feel valued and connected. If we do this well culturally, we can really empower this organisation to become so much more stronger and united.”