Building economic capacity with the Māori Cadetship Programme

Te Puni Kōkiri Māori Cadetship Programme contributes to thriving, innovative and resilient businesses and is supporting the economic recovery, post COVID-19 pandemic.

Published: Wednesday, 22 November 2023 | Rāapa, 22 Whiringa ā-rangi, 2023

Employers and businesses with Māori kaimahi (staff) may be able to access funding through Te Puni Kōkiri Māori Cadetships Programme if they commit to providing each cadet with tailored mentoring, training and development, relevant work and life skills (and potential qualifications) and te ao Māori cultural experiences.

Last year 91 employers successfully did just that, investing in 1,408 cadets to achieve their full potential. Most employers are able to participate in the programme, with the exception of government funded organisations.

The initiative is led by employers, who choose their cadets, and organise the programmes with them to increase employees’ leadership, management and work-related skills, leading to promotions and higher earnings. 

Downer New Zealand, one of the largest employers involved in Cadetships, has 12 different cadetship programmes operating working with Māori kaimahi across the life and career/qualifications stages. This year, their programme Te Ara Whanake, enrolled 28 kaimahi across the transport, utilities and facilities businesses. All cadets are on their leadership pathway with the programme advancing their communications and management skills include public speaking and business acumen, through on the job training and community and marae based wānanga.

"Te Ara Whanake has been instrumental in the overall success in delivering outcomes for Downer employees,” said Downer New Zealand, National Corporate Social Outcomes and Reputation Manager, Megan McNay (Ngāi Tahu – Ngāti Hateatea).

The feedback from cadets after their May wānanga in Ōtaki, was enthusiastic:

“Professionally I have been more aware of things occurring around me and having the tools to rectify without confrontation.  Personally, my home life, tamariki and mokopuna think I have a lot more patience and listening skills and I am a happier Koro” (Downer Cadet).

“I am generally more joyful at work and home, have a passion for what we do here at Downer. I am respectful for the support to go to the Te Ara Whanake from my manager” (Downer Cadet).

“I believe that I have managed to become more focused on the more important aspects of working around people and ensuring that details that matter are not forgotten so that standards are met” (Downer Cadet).

Te Puni Kōkiri research has identified organisations participating in the Cadetships programme have been recognised as employers of choice for Māori. By actively supporting the upskilling of existing and new Māori employees this has improved kaimahi retention leading to improvements in overall employee and business performance.

The Cadetship programme’s ongoing success comes down to treating people with mana so that they can achieve their highest potential for themselves, their whānau, their employer and community.

The goals for partnerships between employers and Te Puni Kōkiri through Cadetships are to build a sustainable, resilient and inclusive Māori economy.

For more information click here. Organisations interested in applying for the Māori Cadetships Programme can contact their local Te Puni Kōkiri office where our kaimahi can assist with applications.

Image of Downer New Zealand kaimahi on their wānanga in Ōtaki in May 2023. Supplied by Downer.