Vodafone Aotearoa unveils ‘Honouring the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi’ policy as part of Māori development strategy

Policy formalises principles and activities developed over time within Vodafone NZ

As part of a Matariki celebration today, Vodafone New Zealand announced a new companywide policy with a key focus on honouring the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. The policy is the first step in a five-year Māori development strategy and will come into effect on 1 August 2020, in line with the one year anniversary of Vodafone NZ being acquired by a joint venture between New Zealand investment company Infratil and Canadian-based asset managers Brookfield.

For Vodafone’s Head of Māori Development, Kirstin Te Wao, the policy is a natural evolution to formalise activities and processes already in place within the digital services business, and its long term commitment to partnering with Māori in future.

“Our new ‘Honouring the principles of Te Tīriti o Waitangi’ policy is an active demonstration of our long-term commitment to Aotearoa, which starts with an acknowledgment of New Zealand’s bi-cultural history in today’s multi-cultural society,” she says.

“The policy captures Vodafone’s efforts to integrate Māori culture since entering the New Zealand market in 1998 and summarises our ongoing commitment to creating mutually beneficial outcomes with Māori as tangata whenua of New Zealand.”

Vodafone NZ CEO Jason Paris adds: “Our change of ownership in 2019 strengthened Vodafone’s connection to New Zealand, as the business is now half-owned by Infratil. Our new policy is building on this, further formalising our commitment to Aotearoa, to Māori, and to all our New Zealand customers.

“Our hope is this policy will serve as a guide for our Vodafone people as they continue to integrate Māori culture, language and philosophies across the business, and the wider community. We see building partnerships as key to unlocking long-term shared value to create a better, more connected, New Zealand,” he says.

Te Wao acknowledges the thought to develop a policy was seeded by the company’s charitable trust, the Vodafone Foundation, of which she is a Director.

“The whakapapa of this policy is grounded in the Vodafone Foundation, that introduced its own ‘Honouring the Treaty’ policy in 2017. The Foundation was very blessed to have the input of Professor Mānuka Henare, an academic expert in Te Tīriti o Waitangi during his time on the Foundation Board. It’s important we acknowledge and remember his contribution,” she says.

The introduction of this policy is the first step in Vodafone’s Māori development strategy, Whārikihia, the blueprint of the company’s approach to embedding Māori language and philosophies across the business. The framework aims to weave Vodafone and Aotearoa more closely together to create shared value for all.

The key principles of Vodafone’s new policy include: honourable governance, agency and self-determination, equity and participation, and the protection and adherence of Māori customs.

“The outcomes of the framework are aligned with the principles of our policy, and are ones we believe will help us deliver better experiences for our customers while demonstrating our commitment to Aotearoa, New Zealand in a meaningful way,” says Te Wao

“We believe all businesses operating in Aotearoa should consider their role as Tangata Tīriti. We’re starting simple and improving as we go, our policy is a living document that will be developed over time. We understand that a true Treaty partnership model is one of co-design that creates value for both parties, which is what we are committed to for the long term.”

The policy is available here.

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