For the past three years, Heartland Bank has been providing internships for rangatahi Māori as a way to get more Māori involved in the Financial Corporate sector.
Heartland Bank CEO Jeff Greenslade says this initiative has inspired the use of te reo and tikanga Māori in their workplace and continues to foster a diverse workspace within the company and it's a programme that is designed to normalise Māori culture in a mainstream environment.
"The internship programme is probably the best thing we could do in terms of making a contribution to young Māori but at the same time, we decided to use that as the vehicle for diversity. We figured if we get Māori accepted as part of the mainstream organisation the other ethnicities would work as well," says Greenslade.
Te Whaiora Te Maapi Pene (Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi) was a part of last year's internship cohort, she came into the Te Manawa Ako Internship straight out of school and she says its an opportunity of a lifetime.
"Stepping into an internship like this it really opens up your doors, creates more possibilities and it really makes it feel like you can jump a little bit higher within te ao Pākehā as well."
Greenslade adds, "The Manawa Ako was a way of accelerating a way to get Māori into the organisation."
Payton Taplin grew up in Papakura where he never envisioned himself working for a corporate company like Heartland.
"None of my whānau worked at a bank it's not very common practice I guess for Māori so I was a bit unsure at the start but I think having a big cohort of young Māori coming to the bank and have a lot of support around them helped heaps and gave me a lot of confidence."
Due to the lack of Māori in this sector, Greenslade believed something needed to change.
"The participation of Māori in the financial sector is very low so just under 3% versus a population of 13% so that was something we felt we needed to help address."
The incorporation of Māori values and customs around the workplace has made a positive change for this corporate business.
Taplin says, "All the new values that have been set up for the bank based around Māori practice and tikanga and principles and I feel like just creating that cultivating that environment has helped me be a lot more confident within the bank."
"What we're trying to do is to make Māori culture and Māori language mainstream and normal," adds Greenslade.
Eight interns have gone onto full-time employment while another 30 will begin their internship on Monday 2 December.