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Cultivating Culture in Business: The Pillars of Tikanga at Hā Habit"

Recently I was asked by a business kaiako/teacher at a secondary school some questions about being a Māori business owner. She wanted to share the answers with her students. I thought I'd copy and paste my reply to offer some insight into how our Māori culture impacts business.

What sort of tikanga does your business work under? And how does this have an impact on your business/staff/customers?

I’d have to say these are keystone values to Hā Habit and something I try to implement in all my dealings.

Whanaungatanga – Relationship building. This is so important in every aspect. Without good relationships, you’ll find it very hard to build a solid business. If I think back to when I started my business, I had to ask people for financial help. I had made the effort to build solid relationships and became someone that people could trust. People were willing to help me, because they knew I was genuine. When I run Hā Habit workshops, I like to get to know the attendees. Everyone shares a little bit about themselves so we can connect and find some common ground. It opens up the space for people to share their experiences and knowledge which allows for a richer wananga and relationship building.

Manaakitanga – Kindness & hospitality. Kindness and looking after people goes along way in business – it’s contagious. Whenever I deal with someone who has amazing customer service, I can’t help but want to do the same in my interactions. I don’t know that I always pull it off lol, but the intention is there. Speaking respectfully to customers, giving positive energy when you’re facilitating workshops, and treating staff with respect are just some ways I try to live this value. Doing little things like providing drinks and snacks for our kaimahi that we contract, or writing handwritten thankyou notes to our customers are examples of showing kindness in my business.

Tika & Pono. Integrity, truth, honesty and doing what’s right. When I am true and honest in my dealings, I can walk around confidently and without a conscience. I haven’t always been like this. Once upon a time I was very dishonest and found it hard to stick to my word. However, I realised there was another way. Business is a great way to practice this principle. What does this look like in everyday interactions? It could be admitting I am wrong and making amends, building trustworthy relationships with other businesses and organisations, or showing up when you say you’re gonna show up. If we have a faulty product, we go out of our way to make it right. Whether it be a refund or replacement. If our customers are not happy, we will give them their money back. We only want to make trades that are of value to people.

Aroha – Love & Compassion. This is a deep kupu and I have used it in my mahi as a way to respond to stress. I try to apply aroha in every aspect of business. Whenever I have a challenge, I think to myself, how can I apply aroha to this? Do I need to set boundaries for myself? Do I need some self-care? Do I need to forgive someone? Do I need to apologise? Do I need to be in nature? Are the choices I’m making based in aroha? These are just some examples of questions I ask myself.

Here is the kupu Aroha broken down. I have applied a process for dealing with stress.

ARO 1) When you feel triggered (aka perceived threat), take notice, and become aware. This pulls you out of autopilot

HĀ 2) Connect to the Hā (4 I, 8 O). Interrupt reactive behaviours. This will regulate your tinana, hinengaro, and connect to wairua

RO 3) Allow yourself to look inwards. Feel emotion, don't try & run from it or cover it Try not to judge the way you're feeling, just let it be Biochemical experience (last 60-90sec in waves) It will pass & you can handle it

OHA 4) How can I practice giving an abundance of aroha? Be gentle with yourself. Ask yourself what you need? How can I respond to myself & others with compassion?

Wairuatanga. Spirituality. I have a strong connection to wairua. I very much believe in an unseen force that guides me in my mahi. I say karakia every morning and all throughout the day. It helps me to make better decisions and to be very intentional around what I do in my pakihi. I go into te taiao everyday where I connect with Atua and tipuna. When I connect to hā, I’m connecting to a higher power. We need to be able to still the mind to receive guidance and wisdom on how to respond to lifes challenges. In our workshops, we start and end with karakia to invite good energy to the wananga. A key aspect of hauora is putting yourself into a space where you can connect to wairua. I believe that’s where we get our sparks of creativity and intuition, allowing us to fully express ourselves, our skills, our talents and add value to the world.

Let me know if you have any patai : ) Arohanui, Julia Wikeepa

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