Tauranga wahine leads Matariki workplace celebrations

By Jessica Tyson

To celebrate Matariki, Tauranga woman Lesleigh Ricardi is doing her part to teach others about the Māori culture.

Ricardi, of Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāi Te Rangi, is the branch manager at ANZ Tauranga Crossing in Tauriko.

She’s also a member of ANZ's Māori and Pacifika network and is involved in finding ways to increase cultural awareness within the bank.

"It's important to celebrate Māori festivals like Matariki because it shows that we are proud of our culture and who we are.  For me as a Māori it's also an opportunity to teach others about our culture."

This year she's helping to organise Māori New Year dinners for staff.  She also hosts cultural food days where staff members of different ethnicities can contribute food from their culture.

Lesleigh Ricardi. Source: ANZ

Ricardi grew up in Tauranga and moved to Australia in 2002, but returned to Aotearoa seven years ago to give her children a direct line to their iwi and active involvement in their marae.

"I am Māori but I'm also a working mother and a team leader in a corporate environment.  It's important for me to set an example for other Māori women in the community and be proud of who I am and where I come from.”

She says she’s proud to see her workplace introduce a te reo Māori language option on all ANZ ATMs in August.

"It shows the bank supports the revitalisation of Maori language in a meaningful way.  Particularly, it creates opportunities for Māori speakers to fold te reo into their everyday lives.”

This year Matariki rises around July 6 to 9. This is the time when people can see the star cluster just above the horizon before the sun rises.