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Tahu Stirling is LPC’s Māori Development Advisor. This new role is designed to upskill the company in Tikanga Maori, build relationships with local Iwi and develop cultural resources for LPC.
Ko Aoraki te mauka
Ko Waitaki te awa
Ko Kāti Huikau me Ngāi Tūāhuriri ōku hapū
Ko Koukourārata me Tūāhuriri ōku marae
Ko Kāi Tahu, Whānau Apānui, Ngāti Whātua me Ngāti Porou ōku iwi
Ko Ikaraki me Airihi ōku Takata hoki
Ko Tahupōtiki Peter Stirling ahau
“In my role, I think I’m in a unique position to pass on knowledge and unify the team,” Tahu says. He’s developed a waiata and is creating a haka which will help to build a unique LPC company culture.
“The waiata is ours – it talks about supporting everyone, helping them to prosper and become more sustainable while bringing back the penguins and dolphins,” Tahu says.
“I think that cultural training gives the staff here another feather in their cap. I feel lucky to work with such a diverse group of people and I think that when you learn about another culture it’s also about discovering oneself and the intrinsic principles in your own culture that show how we are not so different after all. This is a diverse place and the culture is the glue that holds it together.”
Tahu has a long history with LPC. His father and his uncle worked at the port 50 years ago and his brother has been with the company for 30 years.
Tahu’s father Dr Ropata Wahawaha Stirling QSM was Te Upoko Runaka Ki Ōtautahi and would regularly perform formal welcomes to manuhiri / visitors coming to Christchurch. “My father would be proud of this work I’m doing that he helped to start.”
Tahu’s first job was with the port. “When I was 15 and on school break, I was a seagull, or a non-registered labourer. The work back then was very labour intensive, unloading from rail wagons to the ship, going into the hull of the ship to pack the produce and visa versa, it was hard, satisfying work.”
Since then, Tahu has worked in health and education and community organisations. He was a Māori health promoter and helped to campaign for smokefree legislation. He was also part of the team that founded TahuFM 30 years ago, to give Māori language a public broadcasting platform.
“If you don’t have a language, you don’t have a culture,” Tahu says.
After his father was not allowed to speak Te Reo Māori at school, Tahu was determined to raise his children as fluent speakers, and so took them to total immersion schools.
“I think that everything I’ve done – every experience, skill and position – has led me to this point and I’m excited to be able to utilise those things in my role here,” Tahu says.
One part of that role is to build the relationship between LPC and Ngai Tahu around their shared goals of a healthy harbour.
Tahu says the port is a special place to work. He appreciates the history of Lyttelton and is keen to use his role to celebrate the uniqueness and diversity of the company.