Cultural competence at the Department of Corrections : an exploration into the perspectives of frontline staff : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Studies in Human Resource Management at Massey University, by distance, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Public sector organisations in New Zealand have long faced challenges in their mandate to ‘succeed with Māori’, both in terms of providing services to Māori client groups, and in developing a culturally-capable workforce. Biculturalism in New Zealand is at an interesting cross road, 179 years on from the signing of New Zealand’s founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi). While Māori as indigenous people continue to remain over-represented in many negative socio-economic statistics many Treaty claims are settled and iwi have a degree of economic stability previously unrealised. Alongside this, demand for tikanga Māori skills and knowledge in the public sector workplace is increasing, whilst Māori academics and iwi leaders have begun to refer to the Crown as representative of Māori, instead of the distinct and hostile presence previously positioned. As public sector agencies seeking to provide social services to Māori as an overrepresented client population, the cultural competence of frontline staff becomes paramount. Cultural competence describes the provision of services in a way that is genuine and fosters appreciation of differences in mannerisms and traditions, values and beliefs of different cultures. Westernised professional contexts have an inherent structure of power and privilege that presents a challenge in restoring self-determination to Māori. Shared control and decision making through policy, procedure and practice are key elements in the work of decolonialisation, and cultural competence offers a foundational opportunity to begin this important work. This study seeks to investigate the challenges frontline staff in the Department of Corrections face in engaging with te ao Māori (a Māori world view) in the workplace, through their interactions with offenders they work with. It will explore the moments of exposure to te ao Māori, and the challenges faced in the development of cultural competence, in an attempt to explore the dynamics at play between te ao Māori and te ao Pākehā in the prison environment. Through this understanding future research can then build upon solutions to overcome these challenges and explore the factors that make for successful development of cultural competence in the New Zealand public sector workplace.
Māori Masters Thesis