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Future Directors reflect on experience


Faiz Salim and Otene Hopa are nearing the end of their term as Future Directors on our Whai Rawa board. As we look to recruit the next Future Director/s to help grow capability within the hapū, we take a moment to have a kōrero with Faiz and Otene who reflect on their experience.

Otene, Cultural Advisor, an orator in both Te Reo Māori and English, and renowned kapa haka exponent, says his time on the board provided an opportunity to further his connection with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, share whakaaro (ideas) on how to ensure the betterment of the hapū and gain confidence.

“When I applied to the programme, my goal was to contribute to a positive future of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for my iwi. Initially, I found the experience quite daunting and took a back seat in discussions but gradually I gained confidence and realised that what I had to contribute was valuable and that was what I was there for!” shares Otene.

“My confidence was definitely my biggest challenge, trying to continually push myself outside of my comfort zone. I now have a new appreciation for the work that whānau directors have done in the past.”

Two years later, Otene says he has a newfound sense of confidence in his abilities and encourages others to get involved.

“The Future Directors programme has been an incredibly valuable experience for me. I have learned so much from the other Directors on the Whai Rawa board and appreciated the opportunity to reconnect with my Ōrākei taha.

Otene is already searching for where he can offer his input and contribute to the future growth of the hapū.

“I will be pursuing a governance career and will be working towards a Director's position where I can apply my skills and cultural perspective.” 

Faiz, a Regional Operations Manager in Civil Engineering, appreciated the opportunity to sit alongside leaders in the industry and understand how decisions are made that impact whānau.

“The Future Directors programme helped me to understand governance and how that differs from operations management. Being able to sit at the table with other Directors, learn from them and share my opinions were highlights,” says Faiz.

“I learned first-hand from some of the most talented, intelligent, and motivated individuals. This type of experience is rare, and it gave me great exposure to how Whai Rawa operates and the work that goes into ensuring positive outcomes for whānau. It was an inspiring experience which I would highly recommend to anyone interested in a career in governance.”

Now that he has completed the programme, he believes he will be able to use the skills he gained throughout his career.

“I hope to continue to weave all of the skills I’ve learned during my term on the board into the work I do in the future. I want to continue to contribute to our hapū and one day, I hope to come back to Whai Rawa.”

Faiz applauds those who put their hands up for the Future Directors Programme and wishes the successful candidates all the best. “Get stuck into the work straight away. Ensure that you take the time to review your board papers and keep up to date on the latest news. It’s an amazing opportunity which I would recommend to anyone.”