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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

The Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway Alliance has been recognised for its inclusive approach to iwi partnership at the 2021 Diversity Awards.

The Alliance took out the top prize in the Mātauranga Māori category for small to medium organisations. The annual Diversity Awards NZ™ celebrate excellence in workplace diversity and inclusion, across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Waka Kotahi Regional Manager Infrastructure Delivery, Lonnie Dalzell, says the award recognises the project’s approach to iwi partnership, which is changing the way infrastructure projects will happen in the future.

Iwi are partners in the Te Ahu a Turanga Alliance, which comprises Rangitāne o Manawatū, Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-a-Rua, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki nui-a-Rua, Te Runanga o Raukawa (Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and Nga Kaitiaki ō Ngāti Kauwhata), along with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, HEB Construction, Fulton Hogan, Aurecon and WSP.

“We took a different approach to partnering with iwi on Te Ahu a Turanga. Iwi have been involved from the very beginning and have been integral to the design and consent of the project, as well as helping the team to understand the region and what is important to people here,” Mr Dalzell says.

“This project is more than just a road; it’s about reconnecting people and places, past, present and future; and leaving our environment better than we found it. Te Ao Māori influences everything that happens on the project, and how we look after our people.

“We have an iwi directorate, Te Pūtahi, which ensures our partnership objectives are met – this model is a first for Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Alliance staff and their whānau also have access to te reo Māori classes provided through a partnership with UCOL, and the project’s health and wellbeing strategy is based on Te Whare Tapa Whā, a holistic Māori model of wellbeing documented by Tā Mason Durie.

Mr Dalzell says the partnership is more than a single initiative: “Ehara tēnei toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takitini – this success is not the work of one, but the work of many.

“The partnership is the heart of the project – without it, the road wouldn’t be happening. This award acknowledges the mahi of so many people that have got this major project off to an excellent start, and motivates us to keep working to rethink what partnership can look like.”

Watch the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway story on the Diversity Works NZ website(external link)

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