The Influencers: Leeann Watson


Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive

Tēnā koutou katoa. As I write this, we are in the lead-up to Māori Language Week.

With a growing Māori population reflected in our workforce, customers and stakeholders, there has never been a better time to grow our competence and awareness of Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique and rich Māori heritage, culture and language.

While our children may be learning te reo at their schools and daycares, where does this leave those already in the workplace?

I am not fluent in te reo by any means, but I am willing to learn, which is why I joined some of my colleagues at our recent Māori Culture and Language in the Workplace workshop – a new programme of learning The Chamber launched this year.

Facilitated by Anton Matthews (Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri), also owner of Fush restaurant, the three-part course covers basic pronunication, greetings, common workplace words and phrases, as well as an outline of tikanga (customary system of values and practices), and an overview of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) and its importance today.

For many people who want to learn, but aren’t sure where to start, this is a great starting point to gain the confidence to give it a go – in fact, the course has been so popular we have another scheduled for November, as well as an advanced course.

This demonstrates an appetite among our business community to learn more about one of our official languages and share in our collective responsibility to keep this important, unique language alive. We’re all in this together — he waka eke noa.


 

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