In this blog post, we've decided to put the English translation after the majority of the te reo Māori words used — this is to make both terms accessible.

An important part of our diversity and inclusion strategy is understanding tikanga Māori (Māori customs or principles) and embedding these into our work and our culture. Introducing a noho marae (overnight stay at a marae) into our induction process is one of the ways we’re doing this.

By providing an opportunity for everyone at Springload to go on a noho marae we hope to:

  • gain a deeper understanding of tikanga Māori especially around pōwhiri (welcoming ceremony), eating kai, and respecting the kawa (protocols) of the marae 
  • understand ourselves and each other a little better
  • understand Te Tiriti o Waitangi and how can we apply the principles to the way we work with Māori team members, clients, and end users
  • encourage and foster collaboration between teams, leaders, individuals.

Reflections from our first noho marae

In November, we were honoured to be welcomed onto Koraunui Marae in Stokes Valley and have our stay facilitated by Kaye Vaka’uta and Emily Vaka'uta.

At Koraunui Marae we started our journey together, connected with one another, and came away with a shared experience. Below some of the team share their reflections from the noho marae.

John Anderson

I have loved studying te reo Māori at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa this year, and hope to continue next year. It was an honour to be able to whaikōrero [formal speech as part of a pōwhiri] as part of the Springload paepae for the first time and is an experience that has marked my life.

Koraunui is such a peaceful and beautiful setting for our first noho hosted by the generous and warm hospitality of the hunga kāinga [local people of a marae]. There were little flashes of understanding and connection throughout the whole time with my hoa kaimahi [colleagues], I don't think this could happen in another place.

We were especially lucky for the cultural guidance and mōhiotanga [knowledge] of Kaye Vaka'uta for the whole time. Thank you again, Koraunui Marae and Springload for this unique and moving experience.

E kitea ai ngā tāonga o te moana, me mākū koe.

If you want to see the treasures of the sea, you will need to get wet.

Springloaders singing a waiata at Koraunui Marae.
Springloaders singing a waiata (song) at Koraunui Marae.

Alice Pennington

I was nervous before going on Springload's first noho marae. I had never been to a marae before and I'm still very much at the beginning of my understanding of Māori culture, so I was anxious to get as much out of this experience as possible. My nervousness was short lived though, as the hunga kāinga were so welcoming and helped us to feel as though their beautiful marae was truly our home for the night. 

I have only been in Aotearoa for two years, so it was a really special experience for me to be properly welcomed into a marae with real manaakitanga and to learn about the traditions of a pōwhiri. It was also wonderful to spend time with my colleagues in such a different setting to our usual office life. We shared stories about ourselves, shared kai, and shared the washing up — all great experiences in their own way!

I'm really pleased that I could be part of this great experience and I feel very lucky that Springload has been able to forge this relationship with Koraunui Marae and tangata whenua [local people] there. Now I'm really looking forward to the next time I can learn about tikanga Māori in such a beautiful space!


Ali, Alice, and Usha drawing the different stages of a pōwhiri.
Ali, Alice, and Usha drawing the different stages of a pōwhiri.

Gisela de la Villa

Attending a noho was probably one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve had in recent years. Upon arriving in New Zealand, I was immediately intrigued by how present Māori culture was in everything that surrounded me, starting with the arch at the airport. Seeing te reo Māori being used in street names, cities, news, and more, was a clear sign that in order to properly feel part of New Zealand, I had to understand te ao Māori [the Māori world view] first.

Opportunities to do that didn’t come often, though. Who would’ve known that trying to learn te reo Māori was so hard? There’s such a hunger in the country to know more, to learn more, that the offer of courses and cultural experiences can hardly meet the demand. After trying to get into several courses (unsuccessfully), I started my path in te reo thanks to Springload, when they organised for a kaiako to come teach us at the office. This helped me gain the confidence needed to take the next step and sign up to an intensive te reo Māori course at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. As part of the course, I should’ve had a few noho marae throughout the year, but the global pandemic made sure that didn’t happen until after my noho with Springload. I can only say that that’s made this experience so much more special. It’s quite fitting that my first noho was with Springload, with some of my peers who were right there at the beginning of my te reo journey. It’s been a privilege and a treasure that will stay with me forever.

Springloaders decorating rocks to gift each other at the end of their stay at Koraunui Marae.
Springloaders decorating rocks to gift each other at the end of their stay at Koraunui Marae.

The first of many noho marae experiences

Incorporating a noho marae in our induction process was one of the goals we mentioned in our blog on using data to shape diversity and inclusion goals. Next year we look forward to extending this opportunity to more of the team so we can observe tikanga Māori and better understand, partner, and support our Māori team members, clients, and end users.

By making our diversity and inclusion goals public and sharing our progress on building and looking after a diverse team, we hope to inspire others to do the same. If you have any diversity and inclusion tips you’d like to share with us, please get in touch

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