Simon Draper's September 2021 Update

Kia ora koutou. Kia pai, kia harikoa hoki Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. It is an important week in Aotearoa as it is a chance for us to celebrate and help revitalise this country’s indigenous language. It feels like we are making true progress towards normalising the use of te reo, and I am heartened it is young people who are so often leading the way.

To mark te wiki at the Foundation, staff shared tips and resources to help build our confidence in using te reo Māori, held a quiz on Māori words, places and people and ran an online session where we were able to practice our pepeha and learn more about ways of introducing ourselves.

Over the last few years, we have come a long way at the Foundation in acknowledging and incorporating te reo and te ao Māori in our kaupapa and, while we are still in the early stages of this journey, I am personally proud of the progress we have made. Kia kaha te reo Māori!

Foundation staff, Leadership Network members and kaumatua from Rangitihi marae standing in front of the whare nui

The Foundation's journey to better represent Māori and embrace te ao Māori began with a hui at Taheke Marae in Rotorua in 2017

In my last executive Director’s Update, the Foundation was looking ahead to a busy September, with events planned across the South Island to launch our latest research report looking at the South Island’s business links with Asia. 

While the outbreak in Auckland and change of alert levels across the country has meant we’ve had to postpone these events until October and has impacted other activities, when I look back 18 months to when the first lockdown was announced I am encouraged by how more capable we are of quickly finding solutions to the stumbling blocks Covid throws up.

Since the outbreak began, we have transitioned much of what we do online. For example, where we were offering arts residencies in 2019, in 2020 we introduced IN TOUCH Arts Commissions as a way of continuing to support artists during what are very difficult times for those working in the sector.

IN TOUCH Arts Commissions support former Foundation grantees to create works specifically for social media platforms. In the sidebar of this article you can see our latest IN TOUCH Arts Commission, 20…20 Vision by musician Shayne Carter and Thai video artist Arnont Nongyao. It is the ninth instalment of this year’s commissions. You can view all nine here.

Experience Shayne Carter and Arnont Nongyao's audio-visual work 20...20 VISION

Another programme we moved online last year and developed further this year is our business internships. The latest application round closed last week for all but one of the internships (Tata Consultancy Services), with some 600 tertiary students and recent graduates submitting applications.

This year we offered 15 internships at 11 host organisations, including three placements in cooperation with TupuToa, an organisation offering internships for Māori and Pasific students. This is up from just nine online internships with four host companies last year.

In an ideal world, we would be sending interns overseas where they could experience Asian work environments in-country (and will certainly do so again in future). However, interns still have much to gain professionally from the programme.

As with previous years, this year’s cohort will work in and learn about the customs and practices of their host company, supplemented by opportunities offered by the Foundation to explore ‘host’ cultures and cross-cultural understanding. If last year's interns are anything to go, by early next year we will have 14 young New Zealanders who feel more confident and capable to progress their careers with Asia.  

Watch a video from the Foundation's business internship reunion held earlier this year in Auckland

The recent Paralympic Games in Tokyo was an amazing success and testimony to the resilience of the athletes and the people of Japan. As part of our Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics activation, we teamed up with Paralympics New Zealand to deliver a competition for children to design an unofficial mascot for the games, which was displayed at the New Zealand Olympic Village.

The mascot competition was part of a Paralympics teaching resource the Foundation’s education team developed alongside Paralympics New Zealand. So, a big congratulations to Inaaya Shaikh from Somerville Intermediate in Auckland and Ivan Aldrich Obillo from Roncalli College in Timaru for their winning entries.

Finally, talking around the traps you can really feel the drag the latest lockdown is having on people across New Zealand. It is sitting heavy on us all, none more so than our friends  and whānau in Tāmaki Makaurau. So, look after yourselves, and remember this too shall pass. Kia kaha to you all.

Ngā mihi,

Simon Draper