Just the week after Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, the Council for International Development Aotearoa is holding its annual conference in Wellington. The theme is “Deeper Partnerships to Navigate Uncertain Futures”. As a Māori-owned organisation this theme has particular resonance for us.
Unlike many professional services businesses operating in international development, we bring an indigenous ownership perspective to the table. OSACO Group’s key values of kotahitanga, manaakitanga, rangatiratanga, and tohungatanga are at the heart of everything we do.
Our team takes those values out into the wider world where we work to make a difference by combating corruption, fraud, sexual abuse and harassment, and a range of other activities relating to human fallibility.
We have a team of more than 40 consultants around the world who have provided consultancy, investigation, advisory, governance and training services to organisations and businesses in more than 40 countries over the past 12 months.
One of the most striking consequences of leading with our values drawn from Te Ao Māori informing everything we do, is that there is often a sense of instant recognition of us when we encounter people from indigenous and colonised cultures during our work. We are not ‘other’. From our own experience we acknowledge the right to self-determination.
I have personally experienced this when working and living in countries where there is extensive intervention by international actors and more recently when I travelled to Cote d’Ivoire to open our Africa region office late last year.
In our work, transparency and deep and enduring relationships matter. So that sense of recognition and mutual acknowledgement of a shared colonial experience, creates an important connection and opens a door to working collaboratively and effectively.
Bearing in mind that in our work we often see people at their times of greatest stress, dealing with complex and difficult situations with far-reaching and serious consequences in their lives or in the lives of those we serve. When people are under such pressure, a sense of common ground helps. Our ears are already open to the experiences being relayed to us because we recognise those experiences as part of our own cultural narrative.
As we all know without trust there can be no meaningful relationship between people. One of the most powerful ways to build trust is through shared experience.
Learning a language is a powerful way to connect and build shared experience. It’s something that our team have been working on together and a meaningful way we can all build deeper relationships for an uncertain future.
Kia Kaha Te Reo Māori!
Jaydene Buckley (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Wai)