Our annual staff retreat was held at the stunning Pāhāōa marae in Te Kaha, Bay of Plenty. We were hosted by the lovely Andrea (one of the Trust’s previous trustees) and her whānau and hapū (community). Some of the staff had stayed at the marae on a previous retreat, but for others, it was their first experience of marae-style communal living.
This year’s retreat focused on learning more about te ao Māori, to help us progress in our bicultural journey. As well as sharing our pepeha with each other, we also learned about the pōhiri (its importance and history) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship), we did some raranga (flax weaving), learned some new karakia (prayers) and waiata-ā-ringa (Māori songs with actions). Plus we did a bit of fishing/gathering of the local kaimoana (seafood) and listened to stories of the pakeke (elders) growing up on the marae.
All of this added to our previous learning of the value of whakawhanaungatanga – intentional relationship building. This theme came out throughout our various meetings and conversations where we kept arriving at the same place – “people first”.
On our last day, we helped prepare a hāngī, then shared a meal with the community. Ngā mihi nui (a big thank you) to the incredibly generous locals who shared a bounty of delicious crayfish with us, such a treat! Andrea shared with us that her hapū takes enormous pride in providing kai and kaimoana from the local region: their fishing, the bananas and fruit they grow, the vegetables from their gardens, the pigs and deer which provide meat, and more. A vision of sustainability and generosity.
Thank you so much to Andrea, and also “Sheriff” Inys (Andrea’s mum and leader of the marae), Matua Sam, Whaea Mihi, Whaea Ramere, and the Pāhāōa marae and surrounding community for their hospitality and generosity. It really was a staff retreat that we will remember for years!