From CEO Michele: Small steps AWWA are taking to honour te tiriti

As Waitangi Day draws nearer, I have found myself spending a lot of time thinking, pondering…how can AWWA as a work place be honouring the treaty?  In all honesty, this wasn’t really in my realm of thought about a year ago. I was still working out of Kylie’s garage at the back of her whare.

Now, AWWA seems to have evolved into something so much bigger than what Kylie and I could have ever imagined. With a huge warehouse in Blenheim, a beautiful office space in City works Depot in Tamaki and now over 20 staff - ensuring we all have a deep understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi is incredibly important to me. We live and breathe the AWWA kaupapa and as we continue to grow, I see it as my job to really awhi my AWWA whanau (my taonga, my team) and encourage them to also live and breathe the AWWA Kaupapa.  

But what does this mean and how can I do this? I bet many other CEOs are wondering the same thing. I have put a lot of pressure on myself lately to create our Māori policies. I’ve been slaving over our statement of intent for months. When we need new staff, I want to make sure we are not only engaging the traditional mainstream forms of recruitment (Seek, an agent) but we are reaching out to iwi as well. I want to ensure that the AWWA whanau stay at at least 60% Māori or indigenous, that at least 50% senior leadership are Māori and that my team are trained in te tiriti, te reo Māori and Māramataka Māori.  

Last week I was meeting with a senior Māori business leader, who I greatly admire and she said something that really resonated, “Statements of intent are all good, but they’re not Māori, ne?” Instead of writing from a western business perspective, I realised the importance of speaking and writing from the ngakau (heart) to tell the story of AWWA and what we want the kaupapa to be. 

So that is exactly what I intend to do. I am excited to begin this piece of work and in the meantime wanted to share with you what small steps we are taking to honour te tiriti.  For me right now, this means giving life to te reo Māori wherever I can in the workplace, so here is what we do:

  • Start our day with Karakia: for me this feels important because it makes me feel as though we are stepping into a Māori space and the kaupapa will (hopefully) flow
  • I will be teaching my team basic te reo Māori and Māramataka
  • My team have te reo titles. Their titles are so much more beautiful than their pakeha role names because it better tells a story of the important part they play within AWWA. I am so grateful for every single talented member of my team .

Below are some of our team and we look forward to adding all of our incredible content creators and manufacturers as well this year - kia ora!


Kaihautū / CEO

Meaning: The Leader or captain of the waka - the main post which protects the pā and all within it.


Pou Manawataki / COO & CFO

Meaning: Manawataki describes rhythm - the person in charge of keeping the rythym and flow of the business as smooth and in flow as possible.


Ringahāpai ki te Kaihautū / Executive Assistant to CEO

Meaning: Ringahāpai means someone who supports another.

Ki te - to the

Kaihautū - CEO


Kaiurungi Kaupapa / Global Brand Director

Meaning: Kaiurungi describes a navigator, the steerer of a waka (AWWA) This person is responsible for steering the business/brand through unchartered waters to new possibilities. While also keeping everything/everyone (AWWA) on point, aligned and thriving.


Kaiwaihanga Whitiata / Content Manager

 Meaning: Whitiata - film, video

Kaiwaihanga - creator, innovator


Kaiwhakahaere Rawa / Logistics Manager

Meaning: Rawa - resources, stock, materials.

Whakahaere - to prepare, organise, to make ready.


Pou Whatu Kākahu / Head Pattern Maker & Underwear Creator

Meaning: Whatu - to weave, sow

Kākahu - clothing

Angelina, Amy-Lee & Sophie 

Kaiwhakaruruhau Apataki  / Customer Service & Dispatch

Meaning: Apataki - customer.

Kaiwhakaruruhau - to shelter, protect, embrace.


Kōnai ipurangi / Podcast Host

Meaning: Kōnai ipurangi - host/presenter.





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