Vodafone's Tiriti-led strategy gets Kaiwhakahaere

By Will Trafford

Mobile phone telco Vodafone has appointed two new executives to lead the company’s Māori Development Strategy; a commitment to Te Ao Māori and operating as a Tangata Tīriti business.

Elizabeth Richards (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāpuhi) will become Head of Māori Strategy and Aaron Astle (Tainui, Ngati Whatua ki Orakei) has been promoted to the newly created role of Pou Ahurea - Cultural Capability Lead.

Vodafone’s Māori development strategy commits to acknowledging Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding constitutional document of Aotearoa and that ‘the principles of the /Te Tiriti o Waitangi guide and inform’ their business practices.

The company states it will  prioritise Māori business for its commercial partnerships and central to the strategy is prioritising Te Reo Māori in line with the UN declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

‘Vodafone may require new and/or existing suppliers to demonstrate their commitment to working with Māori business’ the policy states.

Where all areas between potential suppliers are equal, Vodafone may choose to prioritize working with Māori business or those suppliers that have a commitment to working with Māori sub-contractors.

Richards’ and Astle’s role will also be to ensure employment ‘representation and participation of Māori’ within the organisation and that ‘Māori rights and interests are appropriately considered and acted upon where taonga such as whenua, spectrum and personal data are concerned.’

Richards joins Vodafone from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and as the Chair of Ngā Kaitatau Māori o Aotearoa while Astle has spent 8 years at Vodafone, most recently as a Solutions Architect in the Wholesale & Infrastructure team where he helped create the company’s vision of Tūhono ki te Paerangi.

‘I’m passionate about working alongside Māori, building trusted and enduring relationships to provide positive outcomes for Māori. I look forward to bringing my knowledge and understanding of tikanga and mātauranga Māori to Vodafone and am so pleased to see the organisation embracing Māori as strategic partners and the work being undertaken to acknowledge and adhere to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. I can’t wait to start and connect with the team.’ Richards said.

‘My father showed me just how impactful sharing and embracing mātauranga Māori can be through his mahi. It’s awesome that I get to follow a similar path and share my passion with our Vodafone whānau.’ Aaron added.

Vodafone chief executive Jason Paris garnered headlines earlier this year when he farewelled a customer who complained about the organisation’s use of the name Aotearoa in its communications with customers ‘Haere rā Catherine’ Paris wrote.