Meet our New Pou Whirinaki: Kane Johnson

April 23, 2024

Ki te puku mahi kia u te angitu
Work hard to succeed

This whākatauki can be used in many ways but for me, this whākatauki represents the journey ahead for us all, to succeed in developing Aotearoa New Zealand, into a more harmonious and empathetic country that embraces through education, our absolute unique taonga, our indigenous Māori.

Society seems to be fractured in my opinion.  Social cohesion has been damaged through the covid-19 strategies, and more recently, ill-informed, ignorant, intentional political views are hurting tangata whenua and tangata tiriiti relationships.  The political landscape at the time of writing this is probably the most divisive I've seen.  For me, many Māori and marginalised groups, this feels like a massive step back. It’s with this current climate, that I am most excited for my role as Pouwhirinaki here at NKMPT a role where I will educate to create empathy.

Cultural competency is a term I personally don't like.  For me, the term is too broad, non engaging, unfriendly - cold. I’m not about to coin a new catch-phrase, but, for me, Cultural competency is about understanding and acknowledging, factually and in its entirety..   For our organisation, we build upon our uniqueness as Aotearoa New Zealand.  My role is to unpack the good, the bad and the ugly.  In turn this is to develop our understanding of what it is to be a treaty partner and my aim is to develop a more empathetic workforce.  This then creates meaningful connections and outcomes for the whanau we walk alongside with.  Here at Nga Kete, whānau, our most important tāonga, have a set of values, beliefs and history when they enter our organisation.  We will build upon those with care and understanding.

The role of Pouwhirinaki places mana and focus on the importance of cultural understanding in our workplace.  It is another huge commitment and resource that NKMPT has undertaken to develop its workforce.  It is a privileged position.  As my time in the role develops, the way it will weave throughout our organisation becomes clearer and clearer.  Importantly,  I know this initiative is going to help our communities, how?  We are a workplace of professionals collectively working towards our mahi of connecting whānau with ideas, energy and resources.  Our kaimahi are skilled staff that come from varied backgrounds.  Each bringing their own talents, beliefs and experiences.  By educating and supporting our own kaimahi, to be culturally aware, competent, supported and resourced, Nga Kete then contributes to lift our community health and social outcomes through authentic, culturally competent connection.

Perspective is important; it’s your sensory awareness of the world, you’ve felt it, smelt it, tasted it.  A change to your own perception or understanding, may have meant an experience or situation that has given you insight or information that you hadn’t considered before.  This is the essence of a Pouwhirinaki role.  To support and create change, gently.  We will champion our cultural competency.  This looks like an agency reset and refresh through a base of Treaty of Waitangi training, for all of us.  This is where we want our kaimahi to ‘feel the wairua’.  Feeling the wairua is integral for a perspective shift, in my opinion.  We want our kaimahi to reset their understanding and come on the journey.  A journey that walks alongside them, building their confidence and competence, alongside our organisational expectation.

Connection is critical for tangata.  We all seek a form of connection with those we interact with.. Cultural competence builds our ability for connection.  We park our perspective and understand and find opportunities  at the forefront of our engagement to connect. We know our Kaimahi are the face of the organisation.  Their interactions are our credibility.  From the first phone call, to our farewells, we want each interaction with our kaimahi to be like medicine.  Healing and Powerful.  We acknowledge how lifting our staff to be more culturally competent will, in turn, help with our connection.  This dramatically increases opportunities for better collaboration with our whanau.  A partnership.

Our own kaimahi of professionals, experience cultural competency training in their careers. 

Internal surveys conducted by the service are always keeping a pulse on the needs of kaimahi, the organisation but importantly the whanau we are working with. Some cultural understanding and knowledge is usually explored yet sadly most is left in the classroom.  The opportunity is now to re-educate, gently and develop a shared understanding of our history.  We can be leaders in our community, equipped with education and empathy heck lets lead Aotearoa!  We want to take that cultural knowledge, the seeds of wonder and build upon it gently and with integrity.  How? We want our kaimahi to feel it, so they can develop that wonderful feeling of wonder…said the teacher.

It is an honour to return to NKMPT.  I left 8 years ago to pursue my bachelor of primary bilingual teaching.   Education has given me insight, confidence and understanding.  But more importantly a hunger for Matauranga.  I was never an academic at school and that was my own perceived barrier to teachers' college.   But the journey of learning was fulfilling beyond me.  It's in my whakapapa.  My Tupuna was the first Maori principal in New Zealand of a native school.  Destiny to be a teacher? Perhaps.  Destiny to make a change - absolutely. 

So you may ask why? Why is this work important?  Why are Māori over represented, why are you always bringing up the Treaty? Why do we need to keep looking back at our history? Why, why why.  These are the perspectives that shape our world we as Maori are engaged in.  Shaped in part by the media, poor education, poor politics, social and family beliefs.  To understand the impacts, injustices and ignorance of our history, therein lies opportunities to explore and educate.  To right the wrongs, gently and factually, that's the reason.  That's my why.

Finally the whakatauki Patua te taniwha o te whakama, don't let shyness overcome you.  We won't be backwards in coming forwards with our Taonga Māori, ever again.

No Reira

Toitu te Tiriti

Ko Puheke te Maunga,

Ko Mamaru te waka

Ko Ngati Kahu, Nga Puhi, Ngai Takoto, Kotirana oku iwi

Ko Patu koraha te Marae

Ko Raiha Johnson toku wahine toa

Ko Taila, Ngakau Mahae aku tamariki

Ko Koda taku mokopuna

Ko Obi and Reco oku kuri

Ko Kane Johnson Ahau

Ko te Pouwhirinaki o Nga kete Matauranga Pounamu

May 17, 2024


Read more
May 14, 2024

Kia Hiwa Ra - NKMP Newsletter

Read more
May 13, 2024

Memorandum of Understanding

Read more
May 9, 2024

Mind and Body Networking Hui

Read more
May 9, 2024

Developing He Poha Oranga

Read more