Ben Hogg

Whakaaroaro: He Waka Eke Noa

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.


Whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou

Seek after learning for the sake of your wellbeing.

As the Marketing Manager for Ohu Inspire, I feel a unique responsibility on my shoulders. Much of the way a business interacts with the public is influenced by the decisions of people who hold titles like mine, and I believe we have a responsibility to keep the conversation of embracing Māori culture moving forward (which is also why working at Inspire Group is a great fit for me).

Leading up to the whakatau, I felt a mix of nervousness and excitement.

It was an opportunity for me to immerse myself in tikanga, the cultural practices that are so deeply intertwined with the identity of Māori.

The journey of becoming a better Treaty partner and decolonizing our thinking had brought us to this moment, and I was determined to honour it with the utmost respect. 

In the days leading up to the whakatau, I spent hours learning my whaikorero “off-book”. It was a journey of discovery that simultaneously humbled and inspired me.

In the car.

While cooking dinner.

In the shower.

Walking the dog.

I immersed myself in the reo, determined to commit every word to memory.

As the day of the whakatau arrived, my feelings of nervousness and excitement shifted to ones of pride and overwhelm.

Pride, because I felt honored to be chosen as whaikorero.

Overwhelm, because I wanted to ensure that I did a good job. 

Standing before the tangata whenua, my nerves settled as I took a deep breath. I accepted the wero laid down by our pouako, Dion Crouch, to be part of a profound cultural exchange.  

The whakatau was a deeply moving experience. The waiata, the hongi, and the heartfelt connection created an atmosphere of unity and understanding. I felt privileged to witness the power of tikanga and its ability to bring people together, transcending cultural boundaries.

He waka eke noa

We're all in this together.

Once it was done, the feeling of overwhelm had shifted into a sense of purpose. It felt as though we were all on the same waka and we had just taken an important step on our collective journey of decolonisation.

The whakatau was a reminder that our commitment to reconciliation and understanding is an ongoing journey. It requires continuous learning, humility, and an unwavering dedication to fostering meaningful relationships.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this  experience and look forward to the noho marae in July, where we will continue to deepen our understanding of tikanga.

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