Te Rau Aroha - Image From Waitangi Museum.

The Treaty of Waitangi and the Workplace

February 4th, 2024 - Barbara Buckett

Waitangi Day is a day to reflect on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Aotearoa’s history, and the developments that have been made, as well as the progress that still needs to be done. But this year there’s more to reflect on with the government’s proposed bill that aims to introduce three principles to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

At Buckettlaw we are exploring how the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi can be integrated into employment law and how we can support and assist employers in fostering a work environment that incorporates the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. These principles can help employers and employees to work together in a way that respects and values the cultural diversity and aspirations of Māori workers, employers and communities. By incorporating tikanga Māori, or Māori customary values and practices, into the workplace, employers can also create a more inclusive and harmonious work environment. 

Tikanga Māori is the traditional Māori way of doing things, which reflects values such as manaakitanga (hospitality), whanaungatanga (relationships) and kaitiakitanga (stewardship). Tikanga Māori can also offer insights on how to handle issues such as bullying, discrimination, redundancy and dismissal in a fair and respectful manner. 

One way that employers can implement tikanga Māori is by acknowledging the significance of whakapapa (genealogy), whanaungatanga (relationships) and mana (prestige) in Māori culture. These concepts can help resolve workplace conflicts, enhance employee engagement and retention, and foster a positive organisational culture. For instance, employers can honour whakapapa by recognising the identity and heritage of their Māori employees, whanaungatanga by building trust and cooperation among staff, and mana by empowering and supporting their workers to achieve their potential.

The Treaty of Waitangi affirms the importance of respecting the cultural values and aspirations of Māori workers, employers and communities. It also recognises the need for Māori participation and representation in decision-making processes that affect their employment opportunities and outcomes. The Treaty principles can help employers and employees to understand and fulfil their duties and responsibilities towards each other, as well as to uphold the dignity and mana of Māori in the workplace.

The Treaty of Waitangi/Te Tiriti o Waitangi is not only a historical document, but also a living one that guides the relationship between Māori and Pākehā in Aotearoa New Zealand.By embracing the Treaty principles and applying Tikanga Māori in the workplace, employers and employees can foster a more positive, inclusive and effective work culture that benefits everyone.

We hope that everyone has a relaxing Waitangi Day and enjoys the celebrations that are occurring throughout Aotearoa.

Image Credit: Waitangi Museum

Note: BuckettLaw takes no responsibility for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of our articles. Any views expressed or comments made in an article are the writers option only. The content in our articles does not constitute legal advice. If you need legal or expert advice you should obtain specific advice about your case or matter from a professional. For legal advice based on your individual situation please contact us to speak with one of our expert lawyers.

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Barbara Buckett

Barbara Buckett is a highly experienced senior employment lawyer with over 35 years of practice in New Zealand. She provides expert advice on all areas of employment law and has a proven track record of delivering excellent results for clients. Barbara has extensive experience in resolving workplace issues and is an experienced litigator. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, working out, and fine wine and dining with friends.

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