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  • Writer's pictureMark Revington

What makes NAIA a Māori consultancy?

Kia ora whānau.

Photograph of a neon tiki sign in the NAIA office

Today I attempt to tackle the thorny question of what makes NAIA a Māori consultancy. I was recently asked why I choose to work here but they are two different questions.

This is my opinion. As a pale stale male, the only pale stale male at NAIA, I have worked at my fair share of companies and sites including downtown Auckland or Tāmaki Makarau. I have been telling stories forever, starting in Gisborne. I have edited stories, newspapers, magazines and websites. I have worked in comms and PR. I have worked in cities and the country. I have worked at corporates, and for an iwi which wanted to be corporate but pretended it didn't.

NAIA is different. More of a whānau. Maybe it’s the people. Maybe it’s the culture. Is it the values? Or Rocky ranting that whitebaiters are an endangered species (he’s a kaumātua and a Coaster so we indulge him, and he will probably attempt to kill me for calling him a kaumātua). Is it the NAIA clients? Is it the commitment to whānau? On any given day, there might be tamariki around the place. They are welcomed.

Maybe it’s a little of all of these. And the waiata practice.

It starts with the boss, Charisma Rangipunga, who reckons she is the auntiest of aunties (she made me write that but it’s true). When she wants to sound flash, she calls herself the founder and managing director, but she is Criz and sets the tone of the whare and our whānau. She also employs the crew, who are pretty good at what they do and look out for each other.

It proudly states on the website, ‘NAIA is a Māori consultancy that is committed to growing the well-being of whānau Māori.

‘Our goal for NAIA is to use the amazing skills and experience of whānau to create financial independence and security in a way that is fiercely and proudly Māori.

‘We are dedicated to employing Māori and connecting Māori businesses so we can learn from each other, share our collective knowledge, access greater opportunities, collaborate, and flourish and grow together.’

Sounds good but what does it mean in practice? It sometimes seems like everyone wants to be a Māori this and that these days.

I was asked not to make this too much of a paean, or an ode to NAIA, but it can be hard when NAIA does what it says it will do. Call me cynical but that can be rare.

NAIA is good at Māori storytelling. NAIA has strong values which are meaningful and a lens on the mahi that we do. We get that trust is involved. We get that endless cups of tea and kanohi ki te kanohi are sometimes involved in te ao Māori but time can be precious and there is a trade-off. And we understand that whenever possible, he kanohi kitea. It is important to build and maintain relationships and that our stories have a Māori heart.

Te reo Māori is important to NAIA.

Sometimes it can be difficult reconciling te ao Māori with the corporate world. That’s where puku and manawa and knowledge and experience are important.

I reckon NAIA walks a tightrope of being a trusted conduit in what can be a complex space. And it cares for people. That starts with Criz but is practised by the crew. It is a special form of manaakitanga that should never be underestimated. You can do the best mahi there is but caring for the people around you? That’s special.

One colleague described returning to NAIA on becoming a first-time māmā: ‘It is incredibly special to have colleagues who welcome my baby with open arms as we walk through the door. Walking into NAIA is like walking into your nan’s place; the jug is chucked on, biscuits are about to get broken into, and everyone’s fighting over who gets to have cuddles with baby first’.

I reckon it’s the people and the culture. Big hearts, manaaki and all that. And as I said previously, it starts at the top. All those other things? They are important.

Naia te mihi.

Nā Mark Revington

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