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He Waka Tapu - Capacity Building

In 2019 kaupapa Māori support organisation He Waka Tapu worked with Rātā Foundation to identify their capacity needs around their communications. This was to enable them to develop and implement a communications strategy.

It was agreed that what was needed was a thorough review of current HWT communications and provision of recommendations to build a communications strategy. Particular emphasis would be put on further developing the existing communications tactics and ascertain what ‘capacity’ they would need to achieve the goals and objectives of the new communications strategy.

The first step in this mahi was distributing a survey to a wide range of stakeholders to better understand what participants felt HWT was doing well, the opportunities which exist for HWT to develop their communications, as well as understand how whaiora, kaimahi, funders and members of their community wanted to be communicated with.

The findings showed one in five participants indicated He Waka Tapu could demonstrate their values more effectively by strengthening their communication, and that participants suggested a focus on communication through face-to-face hui, email and social media. It also highlighted that participants used Facebook, messenger and email as their preferred modes of communication.

Once the research findings were shared, Rātā Foundation then reviewed HWT’s existing communications to determine what the gaps were – this included reviewing their website, social media platforms and both internal and external messaging.

The review highlighted the need for He Waka Tapu communications to be reframed with the values of the organisation at the fore of the strategy (Manaakitanga, Whānaungatanga, Rangatiratanga, Whakākoako). This kind of framework would then inform how the organisation might communicate with its stakeholders in effective and meaningful ways.

The review also highlighted that the content to be communicated and disseminated to stakeholders should be based on the organisation’s key pou and areas for strategic direction. This would ensure that any information disseminated has a purpose and connects to one of the key focus areas of the strategic plan.

The review provided a succinct summary of the various social media platforms that were available for use and the estimated administration duties of using these tools.

Rātā Foundation identified the need for a dedicated space on HWT’s website in which to share community stories which could be connected with their social media, as well as the implementation of an ePanui (digital newsletter) and refining information on their website and social media to effectively tell their story.

Following the review of He Waka Tapu’s communications, Rātā Foundation developed a summary highlighting which areas could be improved upon, and recommendations as to how these improvements could be achieved. From the review it was clear that HWT had a wealth of great stories and content – they just needed to be distributed in a more strategic way.

Rātā Foundation further supported HWT with a capacity building grant, which was utilised to provide more internal support to build their communications strategy.

He Waka Tapu Operations Manager Tanith Petersen says the review enabled HWT to recognise the need for structure around their engagement and storytelling.

“It was about telling the community what they wanted to hear, through a selection of channels, and us being able to respond to what they had to say.”

She says following the review and with the help of the capacity building grant, HWT were able to take steps to grow their communications, which has made a huge impact on their mahi.

“We really leant on Rātā Foundation’s smarts and experience to put together some strategies to start building a communications plan. It was great because there wasn’t a lot we needed to work on, we just needed to focus and refine our mahi to achieve the best outcomes,” she says.

“We now have consistent information going out to stakeholders, we have structure in and around our social media presence and we have been able to engage with media outlets to get our stories out there.”

“I want to encourage community organisations who are in need of capacity building support to touch base with Rātā. This process has been simple for us, it has worked alongside the mahi we are already providing and has strengthened our organisation as a whole.”

For more information on He Waka Tapu, visit the website: