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  • Writer's pictureShanea Rorarini Fox

I found not just a job, but a second whānau

Updated: Jan 24

A pair of hands cupping a carved taonga

Kia ora e te whānau.

Buckle in as I attempt to explain what it is that makes NAIA so special from my point of view as a kaimahi.

My name is Shanea Rorarini Fox (Ngāpuhi) and I am the business administrator here at NAIA.

I spent more than half of my life in a small town called Kawatiri (Westport) before I moved to Ōtautahi in 2017.

Life was good there, everyone knew everyone, the beach was only a stone's throw away and my whānau and friends were always near.

Things have been different since I moved to Ōtautahi. Don't get me wrong, life is still good. But I don't know as many people, the beach is slightly further away and my whānau are now a four-hour drive away, all the way on the other side of the motu. This means that there 's a lot of presssure on my mahi to be fulfilling and rewarding.

I knew I was on to a good thing from the second I first started working at NAIA, and things really hit home when the entire team travelled to Te Ika a Māui on our first hīkoi. As a brand new kaimahi, I was terrified, but super grateful that I got to bring my māmā along with me on this journey. It was when we arrived in Ohakune and gathered in a circle to introduce ourselves 'the Che Wilson way' that I realised I had truly hit the jackpot. I had found more then just a job, I had found a second whānau.

Te Maru Mōkihi, our NAIA headquarters here in Ōtautahi, is as much a whare as it is an office. It's a place where we all yell out 'mōrena' when we come through the door before gathering in the kitchen to catch up over the coffee machine (and may I add that coffee making is a superpower of mine).

We have a team group chat that was started to keep track of where everyone was, and to make sure everyone got to work safely. This has now become a place to keep up to date on everyone’s mahi, to share funny photos, links to inspiring articles, and to practise our reo Māori.

NAIA is a place where we practise reo Māori in a safe environment which I am grateful for while studying at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa on the side. Our shoes come off at the door and we take turns to lead karakia and mihi at the beginning and ending of hui. We don’t feel embarrassed if we make a mistake, and there are plenty of reo Māori champions around to ask for help if we need it.

We feel valued as people, and we know that we have a place both as individuals and as part of the wider team. Our bosses keep us updated on what is happening with the business and our kaimahi care about one another. We have the chance to share our thoughts and we are encouraged to pursue things that are important to us.

We work hard because we love what we do, but we always find pockets of time to enjoy ourselves, whether it’s digging into the garden, playing kēmu, hanging out with our NAIA pēpi and kurī or planning our next outing. Every day is never the same, and there is always plenty of laughter and fun. For someone who grew up in a small town and then moved away to the big(ish) city, I feel super blessed to be working somewhere that feels like home.

Nā Shanea Rorarini Fox

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