With the inaugural public holiday celebrating Matariki happening on Friday June 24, wāhine toa, Skye Kimura reflects on her role as CEO of Tātou and her dedication to helping our Waitapu Group clients to understand, respect and navigate te ao Māori and the richness and beauty within it.
Skye Kimura is the head of our Tātou division, a cultural communications agency responsible for providing organisations with a cultural narrative, creativity, support and safety.
It’s not a role that Kimura thought she would ever take.
After years working in consulting, public health, and at The Ministry of Education where she led multiple projects, as well as working alongside Hone Harawira who remains a mentor to this day, these roles were her sweet spot, and she wasn’t looking to lead a cultural communications agency.
That was until she realised, she was craving a creative role after years of being in the public sector, and that this role, with her leadership, could create opportunities for other Māori.
“It wasn’t that being the CEO of a creative agency was on my list of goals, but when the opportunity presented itself, I thought about all the talented Māori I knew and what this role could do for them,” says Skye.
Having grown up in a whānau grounded in ao Māori values, Skye had always felt she was missing out on a more “modern” approach to childhood, but on reflection it was this upbringing that has ultimately provided her the credentials to lead an agency where a Māori world view is at its heart.
“I was fortunate to have grown up in that environment, but it wasn’t long ago when some people referred to Māori as a dying language,” she says.
“It was banned in schools and our grandparents had their Māori names taken away and were given Pākehā names that were easier to say.
“A lot of our people missed out, and not just our people, Pākehā missed out too, because the Māori culture is beautiful.
“I feel a duty to be firm when it comes to my views on how our culture is used and expressed, but what’s great is that we live in a time where I get to work with colleagues and clients who have a genuine passion and understanding of our culture and I get to walk that path with them,” says Skye.
Skye believes Māori respond to a collective approach, not just in the people they talk to, but in the work they create.
“Everything we do is mana enhancing, supportive of Māori and always, always values and kaupapa based,” she says.
“Recently we have received briefs asking us to ‘leverage Matariki’ as a public holiday and marketing opportunity, and it made me stop and think that, it is our responsibility to be its kaitiaki and not sell it.”
“The only reason we have Matariki as a holiday is because people fought against all odds to make sure that knowledge was still alive, so it’s important we celebrate it in it’s true from rather than try and market the it as the next Valentine’s Day.
“Instead of leveraging Matariki for our clients, we decided to make our own campaign – Matariki is not for sale – it’s a challenge to the wider industry to make a pledge that we won’t sell it.
It seems that putting a stake in the whenua will continue to be Kimura’s modus operandi as she grows and nurtures Tātou.
“It would be wise for the creative industry to watch this space, and the mahi of this talented and spirited team,” she concludes.
Skye Kimura is of Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Whitikaupeka, Ngāti Raukawa and Taranaki decent.