Taking on Tātou

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AUCKLAND, Today: A year into her role, Wāhine toa, Skye Kimura reflects on her leadership of Tātou and her dedication to helping clients to understand and navigate te ao Māori with respect.

Skye Kimura is the head of Tātou (part of the Waitapu Group), a cultural communications agency responsible for providing organisations with a cultural narrative, creativity, support and safety.

“It’s not a role that I thought I would ever take,” she says.

“After years working in consulting, public health, and working at The Ministry of Education leading multiple projects, as well as working alongside Hone Harawira who remains a mentor to this day, these roles were my sweet spot, and I wasn’t looking for drastic change.

“That was until I realised I was craving a creative role after years of being in the public sector, and that this role, with her leadership, could create opportunities for other Māori.

“It wasn’t that being the ceo of a creative agency was on my list of goals, but when the opportunity presented itself, I thought about all the talented Māori I knew and what this role could do for them.

“Having grown up in a strongly principled Māori whānau, I always felt she was missing out on a more modern approach to childhood, but on reflection it was this upbringing that has ultimately provided me with the credentials to lead an agency where a Māori world view is at its heart.

“I never waiver when it comes to my view on te ao Māori.

“I am often asked to temper my commentary, but my answer is always no, never.

“I was raised with a deep understanding of the richness of Māori culture, and I have never questioned that.

“Now I get to work with colleagues and clients who feel the same way and are there to listen, learn and walk this path together.

“It would be wise for the creative, Government and business industries to watch this space, and the mahi of this talented and spirited team.”

“I believe that this collective approach is what differentiates Māori and makes the Tātou way so special.

“Everything we do is mana enhancing, supportive of Māori and always, always values and kaupapa based.

“It’s this criteria and list of Tātou non-negotiables that guides my team – their moral compass.

“So, when recently, Tātou started to receive briefs to ‘leverage Matariki’ as a public holiday and marketing opportunity it was these guiding principles that made me stop and think that ‘Matariki is not for sale’.

“I love that although we’re a communications agency, we still get to put te ao Māori first, we welcome businesses who want to be a part of this change.

“The kōrero isn’t always easy, but that’s not what we’re here for, we’re here to work as a collective, to work on our haerenga [journey] together.”

“Tātou wouldn’t be what it is a year on without the talent, mana and mahi of the team, and the professional and spiritual journey they have taken our clients on.

“The reason we’re going from strength to strength is because of them and it’s confirmed to me why I took this role.

“This momentum is also seeing Tātou evolve its creative, design and brand mahi to broadening their offering as a full consultancy including te reo Māori expertise, strategy, engagement and policy development.

“It seems that putting a stake in the whenua will continue to be Skye’s modus operandi as she grows and nurtures Tātou.

“It would be wise for the creative, Government and business industries to watch this space, and the mahi of this talented and spirited team.”

Skye Kimura is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Whitikaupeka, Ngāti Raukawa and Taranaki descent.

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