Māori comprise 24 per cent of our 10,000 strong workforce in New Zealand. Our Māori culture and development programs are highly visible demonstrations of Downer’s genuine commitment to supporting cultural diversity.
Downer’s New Zealand business has implemented a key strategic initiative to embrace our Aotearoa heritage and culture and to integrate aspects of Te Reo (Māori language) and Tikanga (Māori customs and traditions) into our daily interactions with our people, customers and business partners.
This cultural competence initiative has specific goals to:
- Support greater diversity and inclusion through embracing diverse cultures
- Recognise that our large government customer base has requirements to work in partnership with Māori, and increasing our capability will enhance our ability to work alongside them
- Enhance our established relationships with Iwi (Māori tribe) developed through existing employment and development programs.
Downer’s Māori Leadership Development program, Te Ara Whanake, has been a key initiative to help attract and retain Māori in a tight labour market. The program has proven highly successful among our people, with approximately 200 employees completing it to date. Through Te Ara Whanake, participants have strengthened their Māori identity and been empowered to role model this, both inside the organisation and in their communities. The success of this multiple award-winning program has provided the catalyst for broader culturally focused programs within New Zealand. For example, we now use Mihi (Māori greeting) to open meetings, Te Reo is becoming more widely used, and Māori blessings and other cultural practices are becoming part of Downer New Zealand’s DNA.
Non-Māori leaders continue to participate in Te Ara Whanake, which gives them a deeper understanding of Māori history, culture and Tikanga. These participants have become active proponents of celebrating cultural diversity within Downer. The demand from non-Māori leaders to take part in this program has resulted in the creation of a new program, Te Ara Māramatanga.