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25.1 Introduction to working in or near culturally sensitive places

This section offers examples of how persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) can include culturally appropriate practices at their worksites.

In te ao Māori, understanding the significance of the environment you are working in is important.

Road and roadside work carried out in locations that are of cultural significance may require some workers to adhere to certain practices prior to, during, or after working in those areas.

Examples of culturally sensitive places include:

  • urupā (cemeteries)
  • wāhi tapu (sacred sites) such as sites where previous fatalities may have occurred or sites of historical significance.

This is where good iwi engagement and cultural understanding play a big part in ensuring the health, safety, and wellbeing of workers is taken care of.

Below are examples of practices that may be appropriate to include.

25.2 Use of karakia

The use of karakia, regardless of religion or belief systems someone may have, helps to create a positive space for all.

Karakia can be used to start and finish off the day and can also be a means of bringing everyone together. Karakia can be used to help connect people to their environment and ask that the environment protect them.

25.3 Use of water

Another important consideration is the use of water.

Water is considered noa, or free of restriction, and can be used to cleanse and lift the tapu or to free people of restrictions.

Water is used to cleanse after leaving urupā or wāhi tapu, and after being around the dead (for example, after assisting at the site of a fatality).

It is important that this is considered when working near these types of situations and locations.

25.4 Identifying locations of cultural importance

It is recommended that at the planning stage of any work, the contracting PCBU or contractor:

  • checks if the area is wāhi tapu, or near an urupā, or if a death has occurred in the area
  • arranges for the appropriate tikanga (customs and practices) to take place.

This can be arranged with support from local iwi if the PCBU or contractor does not have the capability to arrange or carry out the appropriate tikanga. This will allow work in the area to continue without restriction.

Where relevant, this process could be done once traffic management is in place, but before the substantial work begins.

Water should be provided nearby for the duration of the work so workers could use it when entering or leaving the affected area if they want.