Week Twelve

Treaty of Waitangi Policy and relevance to IT workers

Key principles included in typical policies used by organisations in New Zealand include:

  • Recognising the Treaty as a consititutional document
  • Acknowledging Te Reo as an official langauge in New Zealand
  • Supporting efforts by the crown to redress wrongdoings which came about through breaches of the Treaty
  • Respecting and affirming Maori norms, beliefs and cultural practices

As an IT worker we may be working indirectly or directly with Maori people or artefacts. For example a website designer may use Maori designs taken from sources that may be sacred or special to Maori. In this case their organisation’s policy may indicate that they should seek permission from local iwi before using such designs.

To respect Te Reo, a policy may dictate that database designers design compatibility with Te Reo. In many organisations Maori names are for meeting rooms and it would violate policy to unprofessionally disregard proper use of Te Reo by not pronouncing these names correctly.

When working on offices there may be undesirable activities undertaken that may be inappropriate to Maori. But when these are the kind of actions that are in general disrespectful this is probably a matter of basic human rights in general rather than a matter for policy. For example policy might not explicitly say not to sit on tables; this would be understood to be disresepctful and therefore against general human rights.

I have worked in a number of organisations which have had Treaty of Waitangi policies. Even now as a student of NMIT I am involved with an organisation which has a Treaty Policy. I have learnt that while the principles of the treaty do not always come to the forefront in our daily work they often inform decisions about processes. For example when I worked in a hospital we undertook a programme to insure pillows used by Maori to support their head were only ever used for that purpose and would never be used to work as prop on other parts of the body whicle on the operating table or on the ward. Once this programme was in place we didn’t consciously think day to day “I am using this dark blue pillow to honour the Treaty of Waitangi”. Instead the principles ahd become intertweined with the way we worked.


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