Whāia te iti kahurangi, ki te tūohu koe, me he maunga teitei
Seek the treasure that you value most dearly, if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.
Sometimes the mountains within us are greater than the mountains we face. This whakataukī speaks to the perseverance in reaching our aspirations. My aspiration is that there will be representation of Māori across all sectors in Aotearoa working on the mahi that matters for Māori, by Māori.
When I first started at Springload Te Pipītanga at the beginning of 2020, I noticed there weren’t many people that looked like me. This wasn’t a foreign thing for me, I had come from financial institutions where this was also the norm. I remember in my interview the Chairman of the Board, Jos Kunnen, said to me “I hope you can bring your passion for Māori and Pasifika into Springload” and at that point I knew Springload was going to be a different workplace. I knew I had “permission” to bring talented Māori into the digital and design space and to work in a way that created a sense of belonging for us as Māori, where we could be unapologetically ourselves.
The tech industry is hugely under-represented by Māori and Pasifika, so I set out on a mission to recruit. Today we have 10 Māori and Pasifika people at Springload, 15% of our staff. We are spread throughout the business which allows Te Ao Māori to permeate through the conversations on projects, with clients and internally with our people.
As Māori leaders we need to make sure that the space we hold has a voice for Māori and use it to effect change in our workplace, with clients, and as an industry.
Today we have a Manawa Tūturu rōpū (group of Māori at Springload) that meets regularly to connect, share stories, mahi on projects, kōrero about all things Māori, and share kai! Our ethos is to make sure that whatever we do, we focus our efforts today for a better tomorrow and for the generations to come. Our team consists of Māori designers, developers, project managers, strategists, mātauranga Māori advisors and everything in between. For us, it’s important to have diversity and representation of Māori and Pacific in digital and tech spaces, given that we have the responsibility to build and create these online experiences that aren’t one dimensional and only take into consideration the dominant cultural viewpoint.
At Springload, we also have three wāhine Māori that sit on our executive team — Lauren Skogstad (Raukawa), Mereana Beconcini (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Ruapani) and myself Emily Vaka’uta (Ngāpuhi). It means we can support our Māori people at a leadership level as well as collectively support each other. As Māori leaders we need to make sure that the space we hold has a voice for Māori and use it to effect change in our workplace, with clients, and as an industry.
We know that this is just the beginning of our journey in having representation of Māori across Springload working on the mahi that matters for Māori by Māori. We will keep creating opportunities for Māori to work in the digital design and tech space as we believe in this kaupapa. If this is part of your ethos as well we’d love to have a kōrero and kawhi with you.