Careers & CPD » Member Learning Hub » Bicultural FAQ

Forward by kaumātua Rukingi Houpapa

  • Learning Māori culture and tikanga begins with respect. Learning te Reo/Māori language is exactly the same.
  • Learning is more fun when it is with others. Tuakana - teina (a concept from te ao Māori that refers to the relationship between an older (tuakana) person and a younger (teina) person) is the most helpful learning model because there is always someone else who is near you, who knows more than you, and that whom you can learn from. The question is - are you brave enough to ask for help? 
  • Within NZSTA, we have a kaumātua, a cultural advisor and co-presidents who are Māori, as well as other Māori SLTs throughout NZ who may be able to help, too. However, the No.1 support for you is the one who is in your work or organisation who can help your learning.
  • If you start learning tikanga, karakia and te reo - please don’t volunteer to lead too early. It does take time to master, and sometimes, when we rush in, we can cause more problems than help. When you think you are ready to lead, quickly scan who is in the room/hui when the time arrives. Sometimes, it is better to give the role to someone else who is more qualified, e.g. a kaumātua, a cultural advisor, etc. It is respectful, too.
  • The language and the culture belong to Māori, and many are happy to share with all New Zealanders. But there is our NZ history to consider. Not all of it is positive, and we need to be mindful. Give it a go, and be respectful.
  • There are many free resources if you’re interested in learning te reo Māori

    F: you can google words and phrases, and many free courses are available. 

  • When you’re learning, you need to have the chance to make mistakes. Making mistakes is a normal part of learning. The main thing is we learn from it. Find safe places to make mistakes. Like classrooms, friends and other learning environments. This will help to build your confidence. 

  • If you make a mistake, try to make it a little one, with as few witnesses as possible(!) The bigger the mistake, the harder it is to come back from it. 
    Remember that people will make mistakes. Support them in this instance. 

  •  “Tikanga” comes from the base word “tika,” which means correct/right. Therefore, tikanga means ‘this is the correct way we do things’.

  • Every river has a bend, and on every bend of the river, there will be a local group of Māori members saying, “We do it this way/we don’t do it that way.” Every Māori tribe throughout NZ has a unique language and culture that slightly differs from the others. As a learner, we have to respect the differences and the culture that goes with it and try and learn respectfully and safely the best way we can.

  • Mataora - The Story of a Full Face Moko

  • Firstly, consider whether requesting a te reo Māori name is right for your kaupapa. Know that after researching and talking to people, it may not be appropriate to seek a Māori name, and that’s ok. 
  • Māori do not want to see their taonga be commercialised. Be equipped with knowing why you are asking for a Māori name – Māori will want to know.
  • Be specific about how your organisation creates equity for Māori and aligns with Māori aspirations. 
  • Seek a professional te reo Māori consultant. 
  • Use caution; a Merino wool company named their business ‘Huruhuru’ and later discovered it can mean ‘pubic hair’. See a professional te reo Māori consultant. 
  • Names emerge naturally through relationships - Consider your relationships with Māori. 
  • Some workplaces will have specific contacts to engage with and to kōrero about gifting names. Be sure you have followed your workplace procedures. 
  • Consider who the local iwi are and whether you have a relationship with them. You can approach or introduce yourself and discuss what your kaupapa/organisation/team have to offer them. Know that this will take time; once you have a relationship, it will be more appropriate to ask about a Māori name. Through this process, you may also realise it may not be appropriate to use a Māori name.

  • What you say is what you do. If you say you will do something, turn up, or deliver a service or product, you follow through. Whilst this is a decent courtesy, it also recognises that much will be done in the background in preparation for your visit. You will make a good impression through your actions.
  • Keep it simple. There is no need to overcomplicate or make things more complex than they need to be. 
  • Be genuine. THe more comfortable you are with yourself, the easier it is to connect.
  • Lead with tika, pono, aroha - What is right and true, and done with sincerity and compassion.

  • Invite Māori to discuss what they prioritise and see if there is a way to align common goals to invite meaningful kōrero. Māori may currently have other priorities, and that is ok too.
  • Ask Māori what would be exciting for them and ask if you have a role in supporting that. 
  • Read Heather Came’s article (From gorse to ngahere: an emerging allegory for decolonising the New Zealand health system)to help understand the role of Tauiwi when working together in similar sectors.


  • Recognise this is a lifelong learning. There is always something new to learn; stay curious.
  • We recommend reading Critical Tiriti Analysis – Heather Came 
  • Attending Te Tiriti workshops 
  • Review the NZSTA bicultural kete page for recommended resources

  • As an Association, we do not have a suggested or recommended name. Although we use kaiwhakatika i te reo kōrero on our website, we understand that it is not an appropriate name and hope a new name will emerge. 
  • The Māori SLT rōpū aims to identify a name that is meaningful to our profession whilst recognising the diversity of who we are and what we do. Finding an appropriate name is relational; this process will take time.  
  • Sometimes names can be gifted from an area or suggested by Māori to align with other health or education workers.

  • This depends on the whānau you are working with and how you ask the question. If you offer to open with karakia, be sure you have one up your sleeve; otherwise, this can come across as tokenistic or “ticking a box”.
  • See our NZSTA bicultural kete for some suggestions of karakia.