Te Ao (Māori world view) is broader than Māori protocol and customs (tikanga), language (te reo), creation stories and traditions. It is recognition of the interconnection between all living things and all the systems that exist and relate to each other below the journey of the sun across the sky each and every day. It is also an invitation to think holistically and long-term with the planning and delivery of services and sustainable management of resources.
Te Ao is referenced in news media, school classrooms and increasingly in boardrooms, but what does it mean in practice, and can we really gain insights for moving forward by looking back?
Whilst BTW is not a Māori business, we do have 1/3 Māori company ownership, and pride ourselves on being values driven. We are increasingly exploring how Te Ao best informs our operational kaupapa (policies and processes), alongside an understanding of Tikanga Māori and the 3 principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi – partnership, participation, and protection – which guide our approach to project work and inform our business practice.
As a business, our long-term view and commitment to Te Ao Māori begins with core values.
Kotahitanga – a culture of collaboration is an ethos that sits at the centre of our operations. BTW is an integrated and collaborative consultancy, working together with collective action, supporting the people and communities we work with.
Manaakitanga (respect and generosity, care, and reciprocity) together with an understanding of the cultural, social, economic, and environmental interests on projects, guides the solutions we provide.
BTW are committed to sustainable management and an intergenerational approach to protecting what matters. Thinking and acting with intentionality and integrity, and kaitiakitanga (guiding with long-term stewardship vision for sustainable change) makes both economic sense for our company, but also aligns with our broader matrix of success where environment, community and cultural well-being are key considerations.
Te Ao is in practice across much of BTW’s work, but one example where it is clear to see is our WAI EYE programme. BTW have a team of multidisciplinary specialists focused on solving water issues. WAI EYE, Kanohi Hōmiromiro (an eye for detail), is an innovative approach to infrastructure assessment using environmental engineers and scientists, skilled surveyors and UAV pilots, and leading remote sensing and Internet of Things (IoT) technology. It’s an approach developed and pioneered in Aotearoa by BTW in collaboration with Councils and Water Suppliers and aligns with the fundamental concept of Te Mana o Te Wai (recognising and prioritising the vital importance of clean and healthy water).
BTW’s team recognise value both personally and professionally in learning te reo and tikanga Māori and a continued learning and incorporation of Te Ao Māori into our practice.
Knowledge and values are important to our business, guiding the work we do and how we go about it.
Find out more about values and culture here