Support for Māori culture

Marcia Puru is a Māori enterprise delegate and a leader in Māori structures at all levels, both in the PSA and in Inland Revenue where she works.

Marcia PuruUnder the PSA’s rules, Māori members are part of Te Rūnanga o ngā Toa Āwhina and can elect rūnanga delegates to represent their interests in the workplace.  Māori in larger organisations with offices around the country – a government department, for example – can also elect a Māori enterprise delegate to provide oversight and a voice on their national delegates’ committee.

It’s part of the union’s commitment to the treaty of Waitangi.

For Marcia, being a Māori enterprise delegate means working closely with rūnanga delegates across Inland Revenue and representing Māori views on the IR national delegates’ committee.

“We focus on issues that impact on Māori across IRD. Often it’s around things like tangihanga and hura kōhatu leave. Or it might be providing feedback on the review of job descriptions that have a Māori component, or providing feedback on submissions

“We also work closely with other site delegates as we have a dual role. But if there are issues for our Māori members, they know they have a channel of communication where they can not only gain support but share their views on tikanga or anything cultural to them. I think it encourages more Māori to join.”

Last year, Māori delegates at Inland Revenue held their first hui – ngā Māngai Whakatōpu. “It was a huge milestone,” says Marcia.

”Face to face – kanohi ki te kanohi – meant we achieved a lot more including planning for the next delegate term.  It’s also the way that Maori prefer to whakawhanaungatanga – identifying ourselves as family in a face-to-face forum develops unity.”

Marcia believes the Māori delegate structure is achieving more than was first anticipated. “I think a lot of our Māori delegates feel rejuvenated.  They are inspired to know they can still be true to themselves, their culture and their identity and more empowered now to show true Māori leadership  in their roles.”


Māori organisers

The PSA recently appointed two Māori organisers – Tracy Klenner and Tauia Macdonald – whose job is to help build the Māori delegate structures in workplaces with Māori members.

It’s good news as far as Marcia is concerned. “Most members know about Māori representation at the national level but not so much at the workplace level. I think there needs to be more promotion of the role of Māori enterprise and rūnanga delegates. It’s fantastic we now have Māori organisers to help with this work.”

It’s a challenge that Tracy and Tauia are picking up. Their first initiative is a series of Māori delegate leadership workshops being held around the country to build skills, knowledge and support networks.

Around 5,700 PSA members identify themselves as Māori but the statistics are incomplete as it’s only in the last 10 years that the membership form has asked for this information. The PSA/Victoria University survey last year suggests the true figure is nearer to 8,000.

Marcia says there are now 13 rūnanga delegates that represent all Maori across Inland Revenue. “We started from nothing but we’ve really built our numbers and structure and it’s encouraging our cultural identity that we hold dear to us.”

She hopes this example will inspire others to do the same.


Māori in the PSA

Last year, the PSA surveyed more than 17,000 members, in collaboration with Victoria University. 

  • 15.7% identified as Māori, a larger proportion than in the overall population (14.6%).
  • Most Māori respondents were over 35
  • 60.5% had a post-secondary qualification
  • 28.1% were in clerical/administrative jobs
  • 19.4% worked in community and personal services
  • Most earned between $40,000 and $70,000.

Differences between Māori and other ethnic groups

Māori are:

  • More likely to have primary care responsibilities
  • More active in the union
  • More likely to feel satisfied and empowered in their work.


This article is from the June 2014 issue of the PSA Journal. You can read back issues of the Journal by clicking here.