23 June 2022

Kia ora koutou katoa,

Mānawatia a Matariki – we welcome Matariki!

As you will know, 2022 marks the first year that Aotearoa New Zealand recognises Matariki as a public holiday following the passing of Te Ture mō te Hararei Tūmatanui o Te Kāhui o Matariki / Te Kāhui o Matariki Public Holiday Act 2022.

Matariki is the Māori name for a group of stars that are also known as the Pleiades star cluster. On Tuesday we saw this cluster in the north-eastern dawn sky, signalling the start of te Tau Hou Māori | the Māori New Year.

Tomorrow will be the first time we celebrate a public holiday that recognises and celebrates te ao Māori. Official recognition of Matariki is an opportunity for all New Zealanders to celebrate Māori and all Pacific peoples’ unique perspectives, traditions, history, and stories, which build a shared sense of national identity.

As Māori astronomy expert Professor Rangi Mātāmua shared with Te Kawa Mataaho recently, Matariki is a time to remember the past, celebrate the present, and look to the future. This Matariki, I have been reflecting on Public Service leaders’ responsibility to develop the capability of the system – so we can better engage with Māori and understand Māori perspectives.

A whole-of-system approach is being led by Te Kawa Mataaho, Te Arawhiti and Te Puni Kōkiri to support agencies and leaders to fulfill these responsibilities. This includes implementation of initiatives such as Whāinga Amorangi: Transforming Leadership Framework and Māori Crown Relationships common core development modules for leaders.

Our first Te Taunaki | Public Service Census last year found public servants are building their capability to engage with Māori and are being supported by their agencies to do so. Many respondents (73%) value their knowledge of te reo Māori and want to grow it. Some 65% said staff at their agency are encouraged to use te reo Māori, 59% are supported to develop their skills and 58% use at least some te reo Māori at work. I think Matariki is a great time for us as a Public Service to be thinking about how we build our capability further.

Here at Te Kawa Mataaho, we took the opportunity to gather as an organisation yesterday to celebrate Matariki. I hope that you too are joining with colleagues, friends, and whānau to celebrate this special time.

It’s been another big year for the Public Service, so please do also take some time to just relax and unwind!

Noho ora mai.