Whakawhanaungatanga – a natural way to do business

10 September 2018
Māori, networking, business, university of, auckland, tuakana, students
Pictured left to right, Ashley Johns, Jennifer Ihaka and Ariki Thomson

The concept of whakawhanaungatanga, or building relationships, is critical to doing business but equally, if not more important, is the transfer of knowledge from mentor to mentee.

This was the concept behind a recent networking event for eight Māori and Pacific students who got the chance to meet with senior business leaders from Auckland on 25 July.

Organised by Dr Kiri Dell, Director of He Tuākana at the University of Auckland Business School, the event’s inspiration came from research in 2016. Kiri interviewed 15 senior Māori managers and business leaders, almost all of them could attribute their career success to their mentors. “The kaupapa behind this event is around my belief that mentoring relationships and connections happen organically. While I support mentoring programmes, we also need to create platforms for natural relationships to develop,” says Dr Dell.

The influencers invited covered all types of business sectors, each with their own unique career pathways. John Tamihere graduated from The University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws Degree and is now the CEO of the Waipareira Trust.  Rachel Petero, is the founder of a global gender & diversity business called GENVIVA Ltd. She is also a co-founder of #rise2025 an initiative to help build indigenous women’s leadership confidence through teaching them the art of coaching. These were just two of the five influencers involved who generously gave their time and also found it rewarding: “Taking this kaupapa out of the 'institution' into a neutral space provided a more organic space to connect with ngā tauira,” said Rachel Petero.

The students found the evening very valuable, Ashley Johns, (studying BCom/LLB) explained, “Being able to listen to their career stories - able to go from start to finish with some of them, that gave me a lot more insight into what particular avenues of business there are. I found it fascinating listening to how they got to where they are now.”

The students got the chance to see how networking doesn’t have to be formal to be productive. “I want to give students an opportunity to really relax and converse in an open way with Māori who have the potential to influence their lives,” added Dr Dell. As a result of the dinner, all the students have now been offered internships, job interview support, one on one professional coaching and mentoring by the influencers.

Discover He Tuākana at the Business School.