E te tī, e te tā
Nei rā te mihi aroha ki a koutou me ōu koutou whānau
Otirā tēnā koutou katoa
The concept of mana-enhancing is not new. But it is gaining wider recognition throughout Aotearoa as people increasingly realise the power and significance of its meaning. Those two words encapsulate a range of values, including respect, professionalism, collegiality, integrity, and manaakitanga.
In a Massey context, our university’s strategic priority for 2021-2023 is to increase Māori and Pasifika student retention and success. Relevant objectives focus particularly on the first-year Māori and Pasifika student experience and providing positive academic and supporting experiences to improve overall student outcomes. When we considered what actions library staff could take towards ensuring such positive outcomes, we saw an immediate opportunity to apply mana-enhancing practices to all interactions with our clients across the university community.
With this opportunity in mind, at the beginning of 2021, we held a planning hui with our Manawatū Information & Research Services (I&RS) team. We talked through the university’s strategic priorities and then introduced the mana enhancing concept and asked staff to brainstorm what they thought it meant. Some of the responses were:
“Freedom for all to shine”
“appreciation and respect”
“that we act with integrity”
The team then made a collective and individual commitment to mana enhancing practices in our library work and every staff member’s PDP (performance development plan) for 2021 included at least one example of mana enhancing behaviour or practice.
Such examples of mana enhancing behaviours included:
- KŌRERORERO: THE ART OF CONVERSATION
- WHANAUNGATANGA: WORK IN PARTNERSHIP
An example of our whanaungatanga approach is our ongoing relationship with the Māori Student Association on the Manawatū Campus. In 2021 we invited students to an on-site hui as part of an ongoing kōrero on our upcoming library transformation project. We looked at building plans together, shared questions, and provided the opportunity for impressions and feedback to be offered over time. A sense of tuakana-teina is achieved whereby everyone brings value to the relationship and the mahi, and every viewpoint is respected.
- OUTREACH: CREATING ‘BUMP SPACES’
We also explicitly recognise this activity as having value, even if it is mostly invisible, unwitnessed and doesn’t always translate into a transactional output or an evidenced outcome. As we put it, “there’s nothing to see from it, but everything to gain.”
WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE DURING A PANDEMIC?
The in-person nature of our outreach activities during the first half of 2021 gave us pause for thought as we navigated (and continue to navigate) the pandemic. Requirements to main physical distancing and don face masks put an obvious challenge in the way of such close, interpersonal interactions. And how can you do this, when you have limited, or no, opportunities to ‘run into’ people, in real life?
We reflected on what we did to adapt, particularly during the lockdown of August 2021 onwards, and identified the following possibilities:
- Create and find ‘bump spaces’ by joining university- or community-wide forums, webinars and kōrero. For example, we had several VC strategic forums in which we worked together with various university staff to co-construct our next strategic plan.
- “Lean into” the conversation and have a voice, a view, and an opinion. If this feels a bit nerve-wracking, buddy up with a colleague and ‘amplify’ and mana-enhance each other, so if one of you makes a comment, the other backs it up.
- Savour every opportunity for synchronous engagement that you can. Take kōrero into real-time at every opportunity (by phone, Zoom, Teams) and extend the audience to include others, when possible. This is how we see, hear, and appreciate our university-wide community, and it is also how we build our own mana, get seen, heard and appreciated, in return.
THE JOURNEY NOW
A mana-enhancing commitment was included in each Manawatū I&RS team member’s PDP for 2021. As part of the end-of-year review we encouraged our team to reflect on their mana enhancing practices and progress through 2021. We then set new, or re-set existing, individual goals for 2022. A planning hui for the team at the start of 2022 drew from our collective reflections over the preceding year to co-create a ‘team contract’ of mana enhancing practices for us all to uphold.
We will continue to share our experiences of our mana-enhancing approach to all facets of our library mahi, with colleagues throughout Massey University and the wider sector.