This year, as part of a Matariki celebration, Vodafone New Zealand announced a new companywide policy with a key focus on honouring the principles of Tiriti o Waitangi.

We caught up with the Project Coordinator at Vodafone to learn about how they champion Te Reo Māori through waiata.

Vodafone recently celebrated Te Wiki o te reo Māori by playing te reo waiata to people waiting on hold - how was this received?

We’ve had great support from our customers on our commitment to embrace te reo Māori across the organisation, including this initiative, as well as our oha to use the name Aotearoa more frequently.

What was your first port of call to source music in te reo?

The playlist was actually suggested by Kirstin Te Wao, our Head of Maori Development. When I did research on the “Waiata / Anthem” album, I learned that it was released last year for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. I was elated to find the album in Spotify. I knew some of these tracks in English so it was familiar but I was really struck by the beauty of te reo, especially when it’s sung.

Did you discover any new artists in the process?

I don’t listen to the radio so even though I’ve heard of BENEE and TEEKS, I have never heard of any of their songs. I think this was an interesting way of discovering their music. I particularly love ‘E Kore Rawa E Wehe’ by TEEKS, it’s just such a soulful, crooning rendition!

How else did Vodafone celebrate Te Wiki o te reo Māori? Is this a part of a wider initiative to integrate te ao māori into the organisation?

We celebrated Te Wiki o te reo Māori in a number of different ways, with activities including:

  • Te Reo music playing throughout Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, to embrace te reo on all customer calls – here's the playlist
  • At the start of Māori Language Week, on Mon 14 Sep, from 11:45am-12:05pm, we joined forces with our friends at Air New Zealand and Fonterra (and other NZ corporates) to be part of the million New Zealander’s marking the day and hour in 1972 when a group of Māori language champions presented a petition with 30,000 signatures on the steps of parliament, calling for Te Reo to be taught in our schools
  • We also run a capability program with three key elements:
    • Te reo Māori – 25 Vodafoners are doing a full-year course. Three of the X-Squad (our specialist customer care team) are participating and are implementing changes throughout our customer operations teams, i.e. our email salutations now include te reo Māori.
    • Te Kaa – cultural capability program with senior leaders to instil te reo throughout our organisation
    • Capability plan (Māori cultural awareness program) including te reo throughout our business

Here's a blogpost on how we’re approaching Te Wiki o te Reo Māori more broadly.

Three favourite māori artists?

Katchafire, Kiri Te Kanawa, Rob Ruha

Do you play waiata in te reo to callers on hold outside of Te Wiki o te reo Māori?

This year, as part of a Matariki celebration, Vodafone New Zealand announced a new companywide policy with a key focus on honouring the principles of Tiriti o Waitangi.  As part of our commitment to the Treaty, our hold music for all our contact centres and internal service desks will now permanently feature Te Reo music as part of the shuffling playlist. Te Reo waiata will play once in every 3-ish songs, permanently!

How important is music on hold to the organisation?

We want to answer our customers calls as soon as possible, but at busy times when lots of other people are ringing in or when their call is being transferred then they’ll hear some hold music. By playing te reo Māori songs while customers are were on hold, we could display our commitment to supporting Aotearoa and celebrate one of the three official languages – and hopefully add some unique Kiwi cheer.

Music is central to the Vodafone brand. How else is music a part of life at Vodafone?

In September 2019 we announced a long-term exclusive partnership with the world’s leading live entertainment company, Live Nation. Live Nation is the global leader in live entertainment, bringing 30,000 shows and 100+ festivals to life, working with the biggest names in music and bringing some of the world’s most popular artists to New Zealand – artists such as Taylor Swift, P!NK, Fleetwood Mac and U2. This partnership brings Vodafone customers an amazing line-up of benefits accessible via Vodafone Rewards, including presales and reserved allocations, exclusive one in a lifetime experiences, giveaways, Live Nation VIP products, and bespoke on-ground activations and experiences at hundreds of Live Nation shows and festivals around New Zealand.

Ka rawe Vodafone!