Embracing Biculturalism – an opportunity for all businesses
More and more Kiwi businesses are looking to incorporate biculturalism into their everyday practises, but like all change it can be difficult to navigate. Manukaroa Anderson has made it her mission to help, and says employers shouldn’t see biculturalism as a threat but rather an opportunity to create, design and lead the future.
A natural born storyteller Manukaroa Anderson studied screenwriting and production, before working in television and digital video. In 2018 she was ready for a new challenge, so she enrolled in Te Whare Hukahuka’s Governance and Leadership course. A programme aimed at creating leaders committed to changing the lives of indigenous people.
“I was at a stage in my life where I was ready to move from being a rangatahi into a rangatira. In the Māori sense ranga means to weave and tahi means one, so a rangatahi is the ability to weave. You are at a stage in your life where you are able to take care of one person, of yourself. Whereas rangatira, tira is the many, so you have the ability to take care of lots of people, of yourself, your whānau, your hapū and your iwi.”
After completing the course Manukaroa started working with businesses and community groups helping them identify what Māori capacity and capability looks like both externally and internally for their business and teaching them how to better engage with the public through communication and storytelling. She says most businesses want to be more inclusive and are ready to embrace the challenges that come along with it.
“Change is hard, it’s always hard and it’s always confronting. It’s having to look at things that you may not have considered before and when you do see them you may not like some of the things you find.”
When COVID hit and the country was plunged into lockdown, Manukaroa says many businesses suddenly had time to reflect on what it is they want to be known for.
“COVID has really given companies the time to realign themselves to the values that are important to them. During that realignment they have been able to look at practises which have been ingrained systematically within their business and examine what they would like to do better. What I have found is that one, businesses know they need to change and two, they are willing to do that, from board level all the way down.”
Being a bicultural organisation in Aotearoa is backed by Government strategy and Manukaroa says its important businesses and community groups get on board.
“Businesses are a huge part of our society and could have a huge influence in a better bicultural and indeed multicultural society. If I can help make those small changes internally and externally in their organisations then I think that we are a big step closer to building a better society.”
And it’s the idea of a better society that keeps her focused on her goal.
“First and foremost, I’m a māmā. So, when I think about the future, I do think about the world that my children are going to inherit, that my mokopuna are going to be living and thriving in. I think about what I am doing now that’s going to have a positive influence on the next generation.”
“I am really driven by the aspirations for biculturalism in Aotearoa, I see a future where there is a lot more time and space and desire to be bicultural. Within the Māori culture we talk about Whakapapa, our relationships, the way in which we connect to one another and also how we connect to our past and our future. Whakapapa is an acknowledgement that you are part of a bigger ecosystem, that what you do affects others around you. That you are a product of those who come before you and a platform for those who come after you.”
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