A Kaupapa Māori Approach to Workforce Development: Lessons from the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency’s COVID-19 Response

Hector Kaiwai, Katrina Ford, Kate McLeod, Lanuola Asiasiga


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on Aotearoa (New Zealand), with whānau Māori (Māori families) particularly hard hit. In order to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency (https://whanauora.nz) used a kaupapa Māori (Māori way of doing) approach to workforce development. This involved applying core Māori values like whanaungatanga (relationship building) and manaakitanga (care and respect) to mobilise, develop and sustain the workforce. Using a kaupapa Māori approach also ensured that the workforce had the necessary skills and knowledge to be effective in their roles, and that they were able to work in a way to successfully meet the challenges posed by COVID-19. Two case studies are provided as examples of how this was achieved in practice. The challenges, opportunities and lessons learned from implementing a kaupapa Māori approach to workforce development during the COVID-19 pandemic are then discussed, along with the implications of using such an approach for workforce development more broadly. To conclude, suggestions are made for how this kaupapa Māori approach could be supported in the future.


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