Workplace wellbeing at heart of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

Our Work / Mental Health Awareness Week / Workplace wellbeing at heart of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

From bootcamp and yoga classes, to nature walks, community clean-ups and marae stays, there’s a strong focus on holistic wellbeing for kaimahi (staff) at Ngāi Tahu.

From bootcamp and yoga classes, to nature walks, community clean-ups and marae stays, there’s a strong focus on holistic wellbeing for kaimahi (staff) at Ngāi Tahu.

A cohort of kaimahi from Ngāi Tahu just completed a noho marae event at Arowhenua in Te Umukaha (Temuka), where they learnt about the medicinal and wellbeing properties of native plants.

“It was wonderful to reconnect to Mother Earth and discover natural resources in their raw state like water cress, herbs and Rongoā Māori,” Anthony Tipene-Matua, iwi communications advisor, says.

“The holistic value of oils, rocks and our own Māori affirmations are very powerful and moving,” Mr Tipene-Matua says.

He feels the marae visit gave staff a natural boost.

“The Marae is the last bastion for things Māori in terms of kawa and tikanga so it is priceless. These opportunities give substance to the values of the organisation; whakawhanaungatanga, rangatiratanga, manaakitanga, and they uplift our wairua in a Māori environment.”

Productivity and connection to colleagues improves

Kiri Williams, an administrator from Hauora, says she looks forward to spending time in nature.

“I love the fresh air, natural colours and beauty in our surroundings, and the sound of birds – it 100% shifts your mood! If you can kick your shoes off and go barefoot that’s even better,” she says.

Ms Williams says this helps her work productivity and her connection to colleagues improves.

“I notice that we are all the same, fancy suits or high job titles disappear and everyone becomes equal when you are looking at rock art, making things with clay and learning about our natural surroundings. The extra vitamin D also does wonders for productivity as you have a happier mood.”

Employees say they pick up tools and strategies through the wellbeing programmes that they take back to the office and into their communities.

“If you can be aware of your wellbeing and know what works for you, you will be a more productive person at work, at home, with your friends and for your community. This has to be good for everyone,” Dave Wilkins, environmental advisor says.

Bootcamp and yoga classes popular

Ngāi Tahu also runs bootcamp and yoga classes which are so popular with staff they’re often booked out.

“When I have completed a bootcamp session my brain feels completely refreshed, I can attack my tasks like I would first thing in the morning, and it stimulates new ideas,” Adrian Patchett, GIS analyst says.

Mr Patchett says the classes are an opportunity to connect with colleagues.

“In my job, I do not generally have too much interaction with others, but the social connections that I make at bootcamp have made me more outgoing and I now feel that I can open up to others more.”

But if employees aren’t into physical activity, Ngāi Tahu has made sure there are other options.

“We cover a broad spectrum of mana-enhancing activities to suit our diverse workforce – there’s a little something for everyone,” Wayne Vargis, senior strategy advisor says.

Mr Vargis says the benefits of workplace wellbeing programmes are really clear.

“I return to work with a renewed sense of both purpose and enthusiasm. Most importantly, it allows me to take a step back from the complexity at hand and take a more strategic outlook on things,” Mr Vargis says.

Workplace wellbeing invaluable

The management team says investing in workplace wellbeing is invaluable.

“A safe and well workplace culture enables a strong position for us to achieve our core mission and progress outcomes for whānau,” Katie McEwan, group head people & culture says.

Ms McEwan says it’s important for Ngāi Tahu to walk the talk when it comes to caring for its people.

“When our kaimahi engage in our programmes they are able to see our values in action and understand their reciprocal benefits within the workplace whānau. Our initiatives are designed to not only support physical health and fitness but to also enhance psychosocial wellbeing elements, a sense of belonging and whānau values.”

Ngāi Tahu has a message for all employers across New Zealand.

“Kua takoto te mānuka… kawea ake! The challenge has been laid… pick it up!”

Read about Mental Health Awareness Week