From the CEO
The New Normal

Chief Executive Officer,
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Arihia Bennett

As we race towards the end of 2020, this past decade has been marked by several devastating events right on our doorstep, and our vulnerability is once again being tested as we navigate the ongoing impacts of a global pandemic.

We are so used to watching CNN thinking that what makes world news is often far from home, and now the long-term lingering presence of COVID-19 everywhere has shown us just how small this world is and that we are very much a part of it.

In our new normal we are constantly reminded to move about with caution and at a distance from one another. We all started out in a regimented fashion, carefully spaced at a two-metre distance from each other, then to one metre (depending on where you were in the country), and now what a muddle. As we carefully moved back into physical meetings, hui and group gatherings, we started with the health and safety messages and nodded in agreement, and once that was over we somehow forgot the boundaries and started moving into hug, hongi or touch one another in a tentative way while secretly wishing we could run off and dip ourselves in hand sanitiser. This is the new normal, so we better get used to it.

On the home front, I’ve found new hobbies such as becoming a clean freak and thinking I’m a special agent on NCIS. Instead of dusting for prints with my gloves on, however, I’m hunting for any trace of finger marks and using the “Mr Miyagi wax on – wax off” exercise with spotless surroundings the ultimate daily goal. Just quietly, I’m hoping it will rub off on other whānau members in the household.

At work we bravely continue to march towards self-determination, and our tribal outcomes remain big and bold. We must now put the brakes on and focus on what really matters – whānau, health, affordable accommodation, ensuring we have a decent household incomes, and taking care of our environment. The economic forecast is indeed gloomy and making proactive calls to stay match fit is the leadership task for now. Implementing change is not easy and it is also no popularity contest, but it is a time to pull out all the cards on artful and strategic agility.

So, what does that look like? As the economy spirals down, we must remain inter-generational – dipping into future savings is not an answer to keep the whānau business alive. We are a creative bunch and now is the time to look at other ways of scaling up in relevant new businesses, investments, innovations and, most importantly, the talent that lies within. Among these challenging times will be an uprising of home-grown ideas and harnessing these is a no-brainer.

Recently our whānau sat around the kitchen table and came up with an idea for a small start-up company. After the karakia, we decided that our tamariki would become shareholders with their ages, in total, adding to 35 years. Anyone over 16 made it into the coaching category. While it’s early days, we are all thrilled at pulling this together, and the myriad of talent that will go into this is a fabulous learning opportunity and an income generator. The Nike strapline – “Just Do It” comes to mind. So, what are you waiting for? It is the new normal – have a go and you may surprise yourself!