To support Māori wellbeing outcomes, expectations and aspirations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Auckland Transport has developed a Māori Responsiveness Strategy to ensure the organisation is a space where te reo, tikanga and te ao Māori thrive.
Excluding the state highways, Auckland Transport is responsible for all of Tāmaki Makaurau’s transport services, from roads and footpaths to cycling, parking and public transport. Its day-to-day activities keep Auckland's transport systems moving and include planning and funding of public transport, promoting alternative ways to get around, and operating the local roading network.
Influenced by its partnership with mana whenua, legislative obligations by the Auckland Mayor and council, and the accountabilities set by the organisation’s own board and executives, Māori outcomes are non-negotiable for Auckland Transport.
Head of Māori Policy and Engagement, Lillian Tahuri says Auckland Transport realises the importance of outcomes for Māori and Treaty-centered partnerships.
“Mana whenua and mātāwaka representation in decision making is at the heart of this kaupapa. It is a kaupapa that looks outwards and enables our partners, stakeholders, and customers to experience te ao Māori through our welcoming public facilities and services. We seek to unapologetically weave Māori culture, values and identity to support the development of strong, thriving and flourishing Māori communities,” she says.
Auckland Transport has aligned the organisation’s business plan to the outcomes in the Māori Responsiveness Plan and its progress is measured every year in the annual report.
Partnerships with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and TupuToa have supported Auckland Transport to implement the plan. Te Wānanga o Aotearoa provide te reo Māori and tikanga learning opportunities for staff to further develop their skills. TupuToa, which is a non-profit organisation that provides young Māori and Pasifika professionals with internship opportunities, has placed 22 Māori and Pasifika interns at Auckland Transport with some accepting permanent positions.
Former TupuToa intern, Rahe Wharerau says, “I had first-hand access to mentors and leaders who shared my passion for te ao Māori and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to stay on as a graduate in 2020. I was able to work on projects that set the strategic vision for Auckland Transport’s future and develop both personally and professionally, and in the end, I still felt I had more to give. I was fortunate to have been offered a permanent role as one of two Māori Outcomes Advisors in the Māori Policy and Engagement team and I now work alongside a team of Māori leaders who are dedicated to increasing the representation and commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori in Tāmaki Makaurau.”
Auckland Transport has a dedicated Māori Policy and Engagement team that provides direction, guidance, cultural safety and accountability to all staff. It works across the organisation to support colleagues with strategies, plans, policies, programmes and projects to integrate Māori responsiveness.
People Experience Lead for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Brett Bishop says the team’s knowledge and guidance has predominately lifted the willingness and capability of all staff to participate in the strategy.
“We believe we cannot accurately represent our Māori community without having the experiences, knowledge and empathy that comes with those who belong to, love and fully understand the needs and concerns of iwi, hapū and whānau Māori,” he says.