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Auckland’s Diagnostic Medlab Koreros Maori & Wins

Published: Thu 15 Sep 2005 08:17 AM
Auckland’s Diagnostic Medlab Koreros Maori and Wins
A project to grow awareness and recognition of Te Reo at a large, community healthcare organisation, has mushroomed into a company-wide multi-cultural commitment to learning Maori and understanding Maoritanga.
Auckland’s Diagnostic Medlab, the region’s community pathology laboratory which employs more than 700 people from over 30 countries, has been celebrating Maori Language Week for two years. Last year, Diagnostic Medlab was one of two runners up in the Maori Language Week Awards Business Category. This year, the company won.
While Government owned entities participate in Maori Language Week, it is still unusual for a private sector organisation to promote Te Reo and Maoritanga within the organisation. Diagnostic Medlab believes there is a major benefit in doing so.
Their commitment this year included a cafeteria display of Te Reo Maori and culture; information packs sent to 91 community collection rooms; mentor Rangi Davis leading staff through Maori language learning, pronunciation and waiata; flax weaving; hangi lunches; Maori music “while you wait” on the phone; staff sharing and involvement in a wide variety of forums; and newsletter stories.
“This has been a hugely successful initiative for our staff for two years now,” said Human Resources Manager Naomi Johnson. “Everyone gets involved and the classes in Te Reo are so much fun.”
From early 2001, Diagnostic Medlab made a deep commitment to Maoritanga through its Maori Health Plan – Hikoi Hahi (“journeying together in harmony and unity”). This plan continues to be a top down, bottom up immersion in Maoritanga, covering everything from a promise to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi (in the company’s Core Values) through to education in handling blood and tissue specimens so that their significance to Maori is recognised.
This year’s cafeteria display focused mostly on Hauora Maori (“Kia tika te kai ka pai te hanga o te Tinana” – Eat good to look good and feel good). More than 350 people use the cafeteria and were absorbed in the display, which was set up to encourage people to stop and look. The initiative, including the display, was led by a staff team of mainly Maori representatives.
“Over the past few years, we have been encouraged and led by our Maori staff,” says Naomi. “Our pakeha staff, our Polynesian staff and new New Zealanders amongst us have also become very involved in the Maori Language week experience. We would recommend the same experience to other New Zealand companies.”
In the past few years, Diagnostic Medlab has: established a Maori Health policy actively supported public health initiatives to improve Maori health continually reviewed services to ensure they are accessible and culturally acceptable to Maori patients provided on going education opportunities for staff in Te Reo, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and on aspects of cultural sensitivity
They have been supported in their initiatives by guide and project adviser Rangi Davis from Te Tairere Oranga, Sisters of Mercy Auckland Charities Limited.
Here’s how one staff member saw the week: “Wow. Maori Language Week’s been great. The girls have put such a big effort into the display and boy does it look fantastic. I’m lucky enough to have Sharleen Peri working with us, and she willingly gives us pronunciation lessons, teaches us new words and answers any questions. Oh yeah. Enjoyed the kai too! Yum!” Ends

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