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Embracing Māori culture delivers ‘amazing’ results, ANZ manager says

A Te Tai Tokerau ANZ bank manager says integrating Māori tikanga and language into her branch is delivering ‘amazing’ results - not only for customers, but for staff as well.


ANZ launched Tākiri-ā-Rangi - the bank’s Te Ao Māori strategy - last year. It includes Te Reo Māori language courses for staff and a framework for them to implement Māori values like manaakitanga (hospitality), kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and whanaungatanga (connection) into their work.



The voluntary language courses have been taken up widely by staff - as of August 12, 1022 ANZ staff have completed the first level, with the course filled to capacity, and the use of Te Reo across ANZ branches being encouraged by managers.


ANZ Kerikeri and Kaikohe Branch Manager Mele Hampson (Ngā Puhi) has introduced the values outlined in Tākiri-ā-Rangi into day-to-day operations and says it has dramatically improved not only customer experiences, but also staff morale.


“I created a whanau approach in the branch - I wanted to give my team transferable skills that they could use inside and out of work, and just bring more of an awareness and acceptance of Te Ao Māori,” she said.


“I put foundations in place, in terms of our behaviours in the branch, and how we treat each other - with tikanga and respect - and that got the team tight and strong and confident, as well as curious.


“My team sees me as the mama bear, almost - the communication is open and transparent, we treat each other like family - truly like family - and we have each other’s backs.


"The team are learning that Tākiri-ā-Rangi is a way of behaving - it’s more than just words, it’s a feeling of belonging, it’s feeling like you’re part of something bigger - and when life gets on top of you, you can fall back on that whanaungatanga - that feeling of support.

“And that wrap-around support for them is really important to me, because that’s what my kuia and my mum were to me, on the marae.”

Mele Hampson  - ANZ Kerikeri/Kaikohe Branch Manager


Mele said her staff are slowly but surely picking up more Te Reo, and feeling empowered to use it during their interactions.


“It’s not thrown in anyone’s face, we don’t do that - we have fun with it.”


She said there was sometimes hesitation about trying to use Māori in day-to-day interactions, out of fear of getting it wrong - but that there was no reason to be afraid.


“Pronunciation is a big one - people are a bit scared to talk Māori, or speak Māori words because they can’t pronounce it - but if you’re putting in an effort to understand a culture, that’s huge,” Mele said.


“One of the biggest misconceptions is around people that are Māori or can speak Māori - we don’t get offended when you pronounce our words wrong, because we just appreciate that you’re making the effort to actually try.”


Mele said she has watched as her team’s patience with customers, their mental resilience and their overall customer service has improved under the new approach.


“I’ve seen the team absolutely shine with their customer interactions, and the empathy that they’re showing our customers is amazing - I’d like to say it has a lot to do with our strategy,” she said.


“It starts at the concierge - when customers walk in they get that warm welcome with a beautiful smile - it’s not just a ‘kia ora’ they’re getting when they walk in - that welcome is warm, like my culture is warm.


“We’re quite often getting comments from our customers saying ‘I just come in for a chat because you make me feel good’.”

Mele Hampson at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds - her Turangawaewae.

Mele Hampson at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds - her Turangawaewae. Image courtesy of the Waitangi National Trust.


Mele has worked at ANZ for three years, and in the wider banking sector for 20 years, but said she’s never seen this Te Ao Māori approach taken by a bank before.


“I’ve never had a workplace describe my culture as ‘beautiful’ before,” she said.


“I wish it had been present in my school when I was growing up, so for a bank - not an educator - but a bank to put this into their workplace, and give this opportunity to us - that’s huge,” Mele said.


“The purpose is to make a difference for my team now, and the generations after me, and I hope that we continue to move forward because it’s a brilliant model, and it has liberated my team.


“It’s empowered me to be a better manager, it’s empowered me to have the courage to reach out to my community, to have some really good robust conversations with my team and call out our values, and it’s empowered me to enjoy … my people.


“In a nutshell, the wairua of my branch is huge, and it’s unmatched by any other team in town.”


ANZ New Zealand Head of Te Ao Māori Strategy Karleen Everitt said seeing results like those in the Kerikeri and Kaihohe branches was encouraging.

ANZ New Zealand Kaitohu Rautaki Māori (Head of Te Ao Māori Strategy) Karleen Everitt.

ANZ New Zealand Kaitohu Rautaki Māori (Head of Te Ao Māori Strategy) Karleen Everitt. Image courtesy of Waitangi National Trust.


“It’s really satisfying to see outcomes like this within our organisation, and to see it being driven so passionately by inspiring wahine toa like Mele,” Karleen said.


Karleen added that ANZ’s recent Matariki Visa Debit card promotion ‘Te Tohu o Matariki o ANZ’, which offered a range of card designs by Māori artist Geoff Popham, had been a resounding success.


“Our target for that campaign was about 400 card requests, but we were delighted to receive almost 3000,” she said.


Karleen said ANZ is also in the process of incorporating Tākiri-ā-Rangi into other branches, including in Gisborne, where a new design will be completed by November.


The Gisborne branch will be called Tūrangānui-a-Kiwa, and will pay homage to Tairāwhiti’s rich cultural history, featuring bilingual signage, design details like tukutuku panel decals, and Pacific-influenced architecture.


More information on ANZ’s Te Ao Māori strategy framework is available here.


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