Dan Tohill

Whakaaroaro: The Ohu Inspire Journey

Several months ago a wero was laid for some of our New Zealand leadership team to learn a whaikorero or karanga in preparation for our upcoming noho marae.

Our leaders had the opportunity to practice at Whakatau which were held in Auckland and Wellington before our visit.

These articles are personal reflections of their experience.


This came together in early July, as I was standing in Te Ohaaki Whare nui saying my whaikorero. With the team behind me I could feel everyone’s awhi and support. We were all there to support each other (especially our other speakers and, of course, our kaikaranaga). It made me feel immensely honoured to have this opportunity which, as Pākeha, I would never had though possible.

As we slowly walked on to the Te Ohaki Marae on cold but clear Waikato morning I thought about how far we have we come, and yet this feels like the start of our de-colonising journey (and in no means the end).


How do we become more open to the original culture here in Aotearoa?

Inspire Group initiated de-colonising back in 2020. The title was a little confronting but the intention was clear – we want to be better treaty partners, better allies and better serve our customers and their kaimahi.

The initial plan was instigated by Mereana Beconcini, our former Marketing Manager, and Gemma Sides, our Kaiwhakatere, and it quickly became apparent that this was going to become a part of who we are as an organisation and not just a one-and-done sort of thing.

After a serendipitous encounter, we engaged Dion Whaiora-Crouch to help us on this journey. As our pouako, Dion is like our te ao Māori personal trainer (i.e. if we learn one karakia he’ll encourage us to learn another one).

He’s as relentless in his enthusiasm for te ao Māori as he is patient with us all, providing wananga and a safe space to learn, making mistakes, asking questions and having challenging conversations. It’s been an adventure… and it’s only the start.

For me, this journey has opened my eyes to the richness of te ao Māori. It’s made me question the pervasive culture that exists here in NZ, a predominantly western way of seeing the world; useful in some contexts but by no means the only way.

For the team at Inspire Group New Zealand, our organisation has been transformed. It feels as though we’ve gone from ‘good’ to ‘great’ through this journey. From coming together to learn, discuss, sing waiata, karakia and korero.

I’m immensely proud of the Ohu Inspire tīma and the mahi that we’ve started.

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