International design, engineering and advisory company, Aurecon, has appointed Sarah Howard as its first Pou Ārahi Māori Leader to improve the company’s Māori cultural capability and lead the development of partnerships with mana whenua and Māori.
Of Kai Tahu descent and affiliating with Ngā Puhi, Ms Howard will be working with Aurecon to achieve a transformational shift to develop a bold and contemporary response to te tiriti o Waitangi – ensuring that Aurecon honours both the legal obligations and spirit of te tiriti, the company said in a statement this week.
“At Aurecon most of our work is associated with large infrastructure and therefore we are working with natural resources such as water and changing the landscape and environment, which hold great significance in Te Ao Māori. It’s important we do so with an understanding of mātauranga Māori and in partnership with Māori,” said Aurecon New Zealand Managing Director, Tracey Ryan.
Prior to joining Aurecon, Ms Howard ran her own consultancy business, Whakatere Consulting Ltd, where she worked with Auckland Council’s Nga Mātārae, Māori Outcomes Department on relationship agreement negotiations with Iwi, investment fund design, Māori Responsiveness Plans and research into the impact of COVID-19 on Māori in Tamaki Makaurau.
Before forming her own consultancy, she was a senior leader in government and managed the monitoring function of Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry of Māori Development. Her recent time in government also included a secondment into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Health and Disability Review Transition Unit in 2020 to 2021. Sarah also has experience in local government, spending time as the acting General Manager for Te Waka Angamua, Auckland Council’s Māori Strategy and Relations department.
“The chance to apply my kete of skills and experience to an agile and receptive organisation outside government really excites me. I can be the bridge between the two worlds of te ao Māori and Aurecon, allowing us to better understand the needs of our communities and create truly innovative solutions to some of the largest infrastructure reforms and investment ever seen in Aotearoa New Zealand,” said Ms Howard
“My top priority is to refresh and lead the implementation of Aurecon’s He Rautaki Māori strategy which has already been developed by a fantastic rōpū within Aurecon. Part of this will be building cultural capability across Aurecon and helping to strengthen relationships with iwi and other Māori stakeholders, to better support the leadership team in achieving best outcomes.”
“Our strategy is also about creating an environment at Aurecon where we can attract and retain Māori leaders, and help them succeed, to create better outcomes for all New Zealanders.”