From the CEO Navigating Change

Dec 21, 2021

Chief Executive Officer,
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Arihia Bennett

It’s been an extraordinary year with the Covid-19 Delta variant consuming our every move, and as we race towards the 90 percent double vaccination milestone across the country, a new strain is pushing its way around the world.

If we don’t protect ourselves now then what is the point of “Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei”. It’s incumbent upon us to be intergenerational and that means safeguarding the whānau, the whakapapa and our health in a pandemic world.

As I reflect on the year it has been full of “screen talk”; it was a novelty at first, but it can never replace social and community connectivity. The thought of busting out of a bubble to get up close and personal is now bound by a set of traffic light rules. Continuously adapting to the change might be easy for some, but it is not so simple for others. In times of pressure some may not actively seek help and a true demonstration of whanaungatanga should start by taking notice. We then need to bring a compassionate lens not an autocratic stance. In my own experience, sometimes we are too quick to pass judgement, especially when we know that encouraging people to make change doesn’t come by stomping on them. It is always good to pause, step back and give some thought to what real support could look like.

Forecasting ahead, I’m curious about 2022 and beyond, but how do we remain upbeat and buoyant about our future when we are surrounded by such uncertainty? In these times we look for credible leadership that we can trust so we can gain a clear sense of direction. While we navigate these difficulties I believe we must continue to focus on our ambitions that lead us towards the northern star, or in our Ngāi Tahu world, probably our southern star.

As we race towards 2025, our young people are casting the net out towards 2050. Older folks like me are poised to be taken on this journey through that youthful lens. Coming from an era where the measure of success has been focused on how “hard” we have worked, and with the attention on an economic base, I welcome a new and innovative approach.

Don’t get me wrong, hard work and economic success still matter, but it’s now fused with a greater emphasis on social responsibility, sustainability, technology and purpose. In both a tribal and whānau sense this is also not a new revelation, and as young people make their mark in leadership I am sure we will see a greater emphasis on walking this type of talk instead of being tied up solely on the economic factors.

Let’s look forward to how this one plays out.

As we close out the year, take some time over the summer break to reflect, refresh and recharge. This gives us time to think and gain greater clarity on what and where we want to be going as we look to a new year – the trick is in actually taking the next steps to make it happen!