Delegates at the first hui of the Inland Revenue Rūnanga came away inspired to “do the mahi”.
“It was an opportunity to show them there is strength in the union, that it’s a way to get stuff done,” says IR Rūnanga convenor Walter Kupa.
The Rūnanga is seen as a key way of building Māori delegate strength at IR.
The hui at Koraunui Marae in Lower Hutt in March came at a time of great change at IR, with issues including restructuring, the use of contractors, and high workloads.
“This forum gives us the chance to share problems and think about solutions,” Walter says.
Cody Wharerau from Hamilton has only been a delegate for six months, and had previously thought the union just dealt with workplace disputes.
But hearing the kōrero at the hui made him aware of how the PSA can lobby to make a difference on the big issues.
“I am beginning to see a place for myself to get involved and do the mahi.”
Cody said it was also valuable to have a Māori rōpū which could discuss issues like the environment and the economy from a Māori perspective.
Jess Hunt from Tauranga agrees the hui was eye-opening and empowering.
“It highlighted the role of Te Tiriti in the workplace, processes to protect Māori, the struggles of Māori across the whole public sector.”
Jess was employed as a Madison worker at IR, and is currently on a fixed term contract.
She says she has jumped on board the PSA’s legal challenge of IR’s hiring practices of Madison workers.
“It’s been divisive. It feels wrong that someone doing the exact same job was getting paid more than me.”
Jess says she would encourage other Madison workers to join the union.
Convenor Walter Kupa says recent gains for Māori members at IR include an allowance in the collective agreement in recognition of te reo and tikanga skills, and study leave to allow time off for te reo and tikanga classes.
“We’ve been after them to pay an allowance since the 80s. So that’s a hard fought victory.”
The reo Māori allowance and study leave are also available to all staff at IR.
The hui was a result of great collaboration between the PSA, the IR Rūnanga and the People and Culture team at IR, using the framework in the relationship agreement the PSA negotiated with IR in 2018.