30 Jul 2015

Embracing Te Reo pays dividends for firm

10:11 am on 30 July 2015

Embracing te reo and tikanga Māori is paying dividends for the Taranaki arm of an international accountancy firm.

Te Reo o Taranaki tutor Te Ingo Ngaia teaches whanau relationships to a class of BDO accountants in New Plymouth.

Te Reo o Taranaki tutor Te Ingo Ngaia teaches whanau relationships to a class of BDO accountants in New Plymouth. Photo: RNZ/ Robin Martin

BDO New Plymouth has signed up to a cultural awareness programme delivered by Te Reo o Taranaki in the accountant's downtown offices.

Partner Gaylene Findlay said Māori business was a significant part of firm's workload and it was important staff had a degree of comfort with Te Reo and tikanga Māori.

"We've always had a strong passion for Māori business, we're contracted providers for Te Puni Kōkiri, a Māori business facilitation service."

Ms Findlay said the course had tangible benefits for BDO staff and the company as a whole.

"It's been really awesome just to give our staff the confidence to that they, yes, can actually add value to Māori business and it's also been really really great for their personal development as well."

Ms Findlay said all of BDO's New Plymouth staff had taken a two hour induction session and a smaller group have volunteered for a year-long programme.

"What it does is it just gives you so much more confidence. We can go into Māori businesses and actually feel comfortable, we know what is expected of us. It's great, we're on the same level, it's wonderful.

The manager of Te Reo o Taranaki, Mitchell Ritai, said he had noticed an increased interest in its cultural awareness programme.

BDO accountant Jacqui Lichtwark, who is of Ngati Rahiri descent, says the te reo course has been important to her on a personal level.

BDO accountant Jacqui Lichtwark, who is of Ngati Rahiri descent, says the te reo course has been important to her on a personal level. Photo: RNZ/ Robin Martin

"What we've seen is quite a shift in the Māori economy here in Taranaki and we find organisations such as BDO and DoC are becoming more sensitive to Māori protocols and Māori customs, especially with a Taranaki focus.

"So we see there is a bit more of a need to build awareness around Taranaki stories, Taranaki customs and Taranaki language."

In addition to BDO, the organisation, which focuses on the revitalisation of the Taranaki reo dialect, takes classes at the Taranaki Regional Council, DoC and at Parinīnihi ki Waitōtara.

The programme involves 10 two-hour sessions run once a month.

Mr Ritai said feedback about the programme had been positive.

"A lot of the participants have been going to other programmes, learning reo in other areas but this is a lot more specific, a lot more focused on Taranaki stories, Taranaki customs and Taranaki language, and that's were they can see and can really identify with the uniqueness of Taranaki."

For BDO accountant Jacqui Lichtwark, who is a member of Te Ātiawa hapū Ngāti Rāhiri, the course is important on a personal level.

"I want to get to know how to speak Māori myself and I love being able to do it in the workplace and I feel quite fortunate to have this and I'm grateful to have this opportunity.

"Going home with my daughter it's even helping me there. She's learning it at school as well and going home to my family and my parents. They've noticed the difference as well."

Ms Lichtwark said it made a difference being able to learn alongside colleagues who were used to working together of projects.

Te Reo o Taranaki manager Mitchell Ritai says there is a growing demand from businesses to learn about Maori tikanga.

Te Reo o Taranaki manager Mitchell Ritai says there is a growing demand from businesses to learn about Maori tikanga. Photo: RNZ/ Robin Martin

"Doing it together and embracing it together and putting it out there definitely helps."

Te Reo o Taranaki was formed in the 1980s with the aim of revitalising the Taranaki reo.

Mr Ritai said the organisation had a four pronged approach to this: acquisition, awareness, application and archiving.

He said the course that BDO was involved in was really good for building awareness of the language.