Encouraging the rangatahi of Aotearoa
Māori have a unique and fundamental position in Aotearoa, which Heartland Group Holdings Limited, Heartland Banks parent company is embracing: Heartland aims to build a working environment that reflects New Zealand’s multicultural society. In particular, Heartland wishes to be regarded as a preferred employer by Māori. They are working to achieve this by creating a workplace where Māori feel welcome, are able to thrive and stay true to their culture. Heartland believes that if it can achieve this, it would set a good foundation for being a more welcoming place for people of all cultures and ethnicities.
The cornerstone of Heartland’s strategy is to embrace and normalise tikanga and te reo Māori. One way it is achieving this is through Manawa Ako, its internship programme. This provides opportunities for the next generation of Māori leaders to gain experience working in a corporate environment and develop their careers.
Heartland launched Manawa Ako in the summer of 2017/18. Since then, 50 interns have taken part in the programme. Heartland has received some talented students from InZone Education Foundation, Tangaroa College, Otago University, King’s College and Ngā Puna o Waiōrea. To date, eight interns have continued in on-going employment with Heartland.
Manawa Ako is based on the Māori concept of ‘ako’ which means to learn and to teach. As such, it provides a rich opportunity for interns to learn from Heartland’s people about working in the banking industry, and for people at Heartland to learn from them. In particular, Heartland gains insights from the diverse thinking and perspectives the participants bring to the organisation. Having over 30 rangatahi Māori join the business at one time has a big impact. It means all Heartland employees are able to sense, see and feel the effects of the rangahtahi’s culture. This in turn, has a positive impact on enhancing Heartland’s wider internal culture.
Feedback from the interns suggested that many perceived Heartland and the wider financial sector as a predominantly Pākehā environment, making the prospect of working in this sector daunting for many. Heartland considered how to challenge this perception at an individual level. Heartland only has 434 permanent employees, so the large cohort size of the intern programme is ambitious. It has been a great way for the interns to feel a wider sense of support within Heartland.
Heartland aims to be an organisation which respects a plethora of belief systems and is committed to working as one team, mahi tahi. Encouraging the merging of a Māori world view has been challenging but comes with many benefits. One highlight is the impact it has had on Heartland’s people, being able to experience interactions with a group of people who are culturally and demographically diverse from Heartland’s existing workforce.
Paul, an intern alumnus and now a permanent employee in Heartland’s Digital team explained, “a lot of our people just need an opportunity for success, and this definitely provides that opportunity.”
“Regardless of whether or not an intern continues their career in banking, the skills they learn and people they meet can and will have a positive lasting impact on their lives.”
One key learning from this programme is that there is no shortage of Māori talent in New Zealand, but possibly just a lack of opportunity. Heartland is thrilled to be one of the organisations committing to an inclusive Aoteroa.
Recently Māori Television interviewed some of Heartland’s people about Manawa Ako. The interview focused on the aim of the programme and the role it has played in helping our rangatahi develop. See the interview here.