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Te reo web series highly commended at Diversity Awards

29 August 2019

Tōku reo, tōku ohooho, tōku reo, tōku māpihi maurea. My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul - Lavinia Taylor, Te Reo Talk producer

“Ka taea te whakatika te reo hapa, tē taea te whakatika te reo ngū. You can fix language that is broken but you can’t fix language that is not spoken.”

Te Reo Talk, an educational and innovative Te Reo Māori web series, has been highly commended at the annual Diversity Works New Zealand Awards.

The web series is a creation of IAG New Zealand’s Māori Employee Group, a network within the insurance organisation for all people to connect with Te Ao Māori, Te Reo Māori and tīkanga.

Te Reo Talk was highly commended in the Cultural Celebration category at last night’s awards, held at the Cordis Hotel in central Auckland, with Air New Zealand taking out first place in the highly competitive category. The Diversity Works Awards celebrate the organisations throughout Aotearoa that are championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Te Reo Talk episodes are released monthly at IAG with each episode featuring one kupu hou (new word), kīwaha (idiom) or whakatauki (Māori proverb) that relates to what the business is focussed on, such as development planning or celebrating significant days or events such as Matariki.

The Diversity Works New Zealand Awards judging panel said that by taking an educational approach and creating a strong impetus to normalise the use of te reo Māori throughout the organisation, “IAG New Zealand has embodied its values. The staff is very proud of what they have achieved and have made a significant change to the culture of organisation”.

Three of the Te Reo Talk team, Marcelle Pio, Lavinia Taylor and Bridget Brokenshire, accepted the highly commended accolade at the August 28 awards evening. Their achievements were acknowledged by a member of the Māori Employee Group, Richard Williams (Ngā Puhi), who performed a haka tautoko.

One of the web series’ hosts and producers, Marcelle Pio (Te Whakatōhea, Ngāi Te Rangi, Tūhoe, Te Aitanga ā Mahaki, Ngāti Pikiao), says: "Diversity Works and the judging panel have recognised Te Reo Talk as an important vehicle to giving strength to Te Reo Māori in the workplace. I celebrate that we are another step closer to normalising Te Reo Māori!"

"’E kiia nei te kōrero a tōku tipuna a Tauputaputa hei whai atu i tōnā whaiāipo: 'Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tuohu koe me he maunga teitei.' Ko te iti kahurangi e kōrerohia nei au, ko tōku reo. Maimoatia te reo Māori!’

“In the words of my ancestor Tauputaputa: 'Seek the treasure you value most dearly, should you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.' Indeed, Te Reo Māori is one of my most valued treasures.”

Fellow hosts and producers, Lavinia Taylor (Ngā Puhi, Ngā Rauru, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) and Bridget Brokenshire (Ngāti Tūwharetoa), say being highly commended for their work to give te reo Māori prominence in the workplace is humbling.

"'Tōku reo, tōku ohooho, tōku reo, tōku māpihi maurea'. My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul',” Lavinia says.

"To me, even being a finalist in the Diversity Works New Zealand awards was a huge honour. This commendation validates the journey we have embarked on towards recognising Te Reo Māori as more than just a spoken language. By IAG genuinely embracing Te Reo Māori in this way, I feel more connected to my language and it enables me to share this meaningful connection with others around me."

Bridget says the web series has brought many people together within IAG and created special connections. “For me personally, Te Reo Talk has been a pathway to reconnecting with who I am. Previously I’ve been whakamā (shy) about embracing my identity at work,” Bridget says. “But what we’ve found is that te reo and mahi (work) go really well together - it makes te reo Māori real for people to relate to and learn.”

IAG’s Māori Employee Group was founded almost five years ago with a purpose to understand Te Ao Māori within the organisation.

IAG was one of four finalists in the Cultural Celebration category. Last year, IAG’s MyFlex flexible working programme also received a highly commended in the Work Life Balance category at the awards.

IAG’s Executive Manager Culture and Business Solutions Fiona Hewitt says people from all levels of the business have participated in the initiative, which reflects IAG’s commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive culture.

Te Reo Talk presents an opportunity for every single staff member at IAG, regardless of their geographical location, to experience te reo Māori in a way that is comfortable for them. For some people, that might mean listening to a Te Reo Talk video privately through their headphones, for others the videos give them confidence to try out Māori words around the office. For others still, Te Reo Talk gives them permission and confidence to include a Māori greeting or sign-off in their email correspondence,” she says.

More about Te Reo Talk can be found on the Diversity Works New Zealand website

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