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“When you understand the language, you understand the worldview
 – a place where we can all find a sense of connection.
All people want to feel identity, connection, and purpose.
What’s good for Māori is good for everyone.”

The first cohort of health and wellbeing sector leaders came together to lift their cultural confidence in a new programme supported and facilitated by Careerforce. A recent graduation event for the nine participants celebrated their new knowledge and achievements.

The work has been part of an initiative to strengthen bi-cultural confidence across the Careerforce employer network and follows on from an initiative to lift cultural confidence across the Careerforce organisation.


Health and wellbeing sector leaders attend a cultural confidence session.

Careerforce Kaiwhakahononga (Māori Engagement & Development Lead), Tūraukawa Bartlett developed and delivered the programme based on his own journey as a former Careerforce Māori apprentice. He explains, “When thinking about how we best support the outcomes of all our trainees and apprentices with an equitable lens, it takes a collective approach. We feel we can better support organisations if they themselves feel confident in seeing through a te ao Māori lens.  And to understand a te ao Māori world view, the first step is understanding the language.”

Careerforce is the industry training organisation (ITO) for New Zealand’s health and wellbeing sectors. It partners with employers to support staff to gain nationally recognised qualifications and deliver better health outcomes for New Zealand.

It has developed this cultural confidence programme to build the internal and self-sustaining capability in organisations that will significantly influence how Māori trainees and apprentices achieve.

The 4-week programme consists of two 90-minute sessions per week and focuses on building cultural confidence rather than a goal of ‘cultural competency’.

According to Tūraukawa, the key is having the confidence to learn something new, try it out, be okay with mistakes and most importantly, learn from the experience. No one is perfect and we are all learners; the difference is simply where we are in the journey.

“The programme starts with the language. We look at some of the words and values often used today, such as manaakitanga, whanaungatanga and kotahitanga and what these words actually mean,” says Tūraukawa.

“In Aotearoa we have Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Throughout the programme we firstly focus on what the words of Te Tiriti actually mean, because how can we expect people to bring it to life, unless they understand it? In these sessions, we make a personal connection to it, and we live and breathe it through a professional lens.

“At Careerforce, we are 100% committed to all our trainees and apprentices and we try to do everything we possibly can to support an equitable lens for all who travel the learning journey. Here we are engaging te ao Māori to provide the lens to see things in a certain way.

“You don’t need to be Māori to understand, feel and express manaakitanga (respect and kindness). All people want to feel a sense of identity, connection, and purpose. What’s good for Māori is good for everyone.”

“When a trainee comes on board, we are vested in that partnership – it’s a relationship of reciprocity. If we can support the organisation through a bi-cultural lens, the benefits are going to be felt by the trainee. It can be a lonely journey for a trainee, and we want to mitigate that risk.”

The first cohort of external leaders consisted of nine participants from six different organisations, who Careerforce identified as having a hunger and desire to learn more in this area.  Organisations included MSD, Oranga Tamariki, Ryman Healthcare, Community Housing Aotearoa, FinCap and Social Services Providers Aotearoa.  These were people who it was felt would embrace the learning, take the initiative, and nurture it within their own organisations.

Careerforce CEO Jane Wenman explains, “We first put our Senior Leadership Team through the cultural confidence programme, then our managers and now we are rolling it out across Careerforce.  Enabling our staff to be bi-culturally confident means they are better equipped to support our Māori trainees throughout their journey. It also enables staff to engage meaningfully with our company values and apply the values in their daily activities. We felt it was important to role model this first, before taking it out to our workplaces.”

Participants have used words such as ‘life changing’ and groundbreaking’ to describe their experiences with the programme. “For some people the programme is very much a personal journey as well as a professional journey.  People start to connect and understand this world view and think about how they can bring it to life in their professional roles,” says Tūraukawa.

“I had zero confidence when I started the programme.
The course provided a safe space to discuss and learn more. It provided opportunities to both learn and practice, after exploring the meaning behind what we were doing. I appreciated the emphasis on understanding, on embracing the uncomfortable spaces, and using Te Reo to explore the meaning of words and phrases from a te ao Maori viewpoint as opposed to literal translation.”

Cohort member

“When starting off a low base of cultural confidence, we were encouraged to hongihongia te whewheia, “to embrace the uncomfortable space”, but knowing that it was within the comfort of a safe environment. The cultural confidence journey has transitioned me from what was perhaps a degree of tokenism in the past, to a much deeper understanding of the te ao Māori world view, and truly understanding why we do what we do, for example whanaungatanga, karakia, and waiata. We all recognise however that cultural confidence is a journey, not a destination, and we all have a shared sense of personal responsibility and excitement to continue the journey”.

Careerforce Manager

If your organisation wants to know more about Careerforce cultural confidence programmes, please contact