In a session on the first day of meetings, Wednesday 6 November, titled ‘Tō tātou uniana, tō mātou whakakitenga – advancing our Tiriti relationship’, kaiwhakahaere asked what actions can Branches and Branch Presidents, as leaders, take to advance our commitment to Te Koeke Tiriti – TEU’s Tiriti relationship framework.

Te Koeke Tiriti is the framework developed and agreed upon by TEU members and staff, which guides TEU Tiriti o Waitangi relationships and behaviours. The framework sets out whāinga or values to guide our decision-making and our actions, in all the work we do together as TEU members and staff. There are four whāinga, Tū kotahi, tū kaha, Ngā piki, ngā heke, Awhi atu, awhi mai, and Tātou, tātou e.

The 2019 TEU Branch Presidents’ Meeting proved a great opportunity to see Te Koeke Tiriti in action. While each session, panel, workshop and action over the two days of meetings was guided by Te Koeke Tiriti, the overarching message and guiding whāinga of the 2019 Branch Presidents’ Meeting was awhi atu, awhi mai, which states,

‘We take actions that seek to improve the lives of the most vulnerable; we give and receive, acknowledging that reciprocity is fundamental to strong and equitable relationships; and we work to advance approaches that ensure quality public tertiary education for all’.

The Te Koeke Tiriti framework can be used as a daily guide and tool to support our decision-making, actions, and interactions. From our conference and council and BP meetings, to interactions between individual members and amongst union staff, this framework helps us to think about how the Tiriti whāinga it promotes can become an integral part of how we work and behave as TEU members and staff.

For Annie Barker, BP Te Whare Wananga o Waikato, The University of Waikato, the question of what actions Branches and Branch Presidents, as leaders, can take to advance our commitment to Te Koeke Tiriti relies in part on our willingness as leaders, educators, and TEU members to incorporate and embed Te Koeke Tiriti in all that we do,

‘Te koeke Tiriti provides an expansive and inclusive means of supporting our decision-making, actions, and interactions. But what was really impressed on me through the session on Te Koeke Tiriti, and across the two days of meetings, was thinking about how we can use the framework across everything we do as educators and as union members’.

With te takitini me te whakawhāiti tāngata – diversity and inclusion central Te Koeke Tiriti and to TEU vision, structure and policy, Barker views Te Koeke Tiriti as a living framework that can be enacted by the way we work together, ‘It’s about keeping these values at the forefront, about respecting and supporting one another, and reminding ourselves of our commitment to improving the lives of the most vulnerable. I think if we can embed these four whāinga in the way we work, and the ways we interact with others, then as Branch Presidents, we can lead positive change’.