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Elevating Māori in Engineering


Hapaitia te Pūkahatanga Māori - Elevating Māori in Engineering

In her fourth year of university, Alyce Lysaght saw first-hand the lack of Māori representation in engineering. This kickstarted her mahi to inspire and empower through the strength of storytelling and is now 24 episodes (and counting) into her 'Māori in Engineering' podcast, a space for the intentional elevation of Māori in the Engineering world.

You Are What You See

My inspiration for the podcast started in my fourth year of university when I was mentoring Māori engineering students. I learnt that there were less and less Māori within the engineering cohort as the years of university went on. I was also on my own journey of what it meant to be a Māori Engineer.

With this mindset, I researched Māori in engineering but couldn’t find much. I discovered a webinar, called ‘Māori in Construction’ which was a panel discussion and I loved it because it was such an open, honest kōrero from changemakers in the industry: Troy Brockbank, Lincoln Tomoteo, Chantelle Bailey, and Warner Cowin. It was awesome to listen to their life stories, what they had achieved and what the industry needs to do better – it was a whakaaro that sparked lots of inspiration for me.

I wanted to do something similar- an accessible space where Māori and non-Māori could connect. The people I initially talked to were up in Tāmaki Makaurau and every call was such organic kōrero, that I wished I’d recorded it. A mate said to me “You listen to podcasts all the time, why don't you just interview them on a podcast?” It all fell into place after that.

The whakaaro of “You are what you see”. For the people I was mentoring in first year engineering, there weren’t many inspiring stories in plain sight and there wasn’t a space for sharing them. It feels like I’ve found the space.

Discovery And Realisation

It's been going for two years now and there's a large pool of diverse thoughts centred on a very important kaupapa of ‘Māori in Engineering’ to listen to which is awesome.

I have learnt so much through doing this podcast. My biggest learning so far is the importance of relationships. The engineering industry within Aotearoa is relatively small and powerful. The support you get through positive relationships is empowering and builds confidence.

The power of storytelling and getting a message across has also become more evident. The power of looking back to look forward ~ kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua. We shouldn't only be sitting at a desk all day as engineers and just focusing on the numbers – everything that engineers do has a wider meaning and purpose behind it that will have an impact for our mokopuna. A learning from the podcast is that we need to have a diverse workforce for an engineering solution - for a solution to be adequate for its community, it needs to represent all the different facets of community.

Supporting More Māori Into The Sector

There’s real value and empowerment of people who are already here, so we need to make it a safe space. By safe space I mean cultural safety, because there are spaces in the sector that are not safe and we need to encourage conversations, have transparency and call out bad behaviour. It's not a tick box exercise either - there's no list of simple solutions. This podcast isn't the be-all-end-all solution, it's a supporter to elevate Māori in the engineering space.


Alyce recording an episode of her podcast 'Māori in Engineering' 

Find Your People

A lot of my wonderful moments within the industry are from the connections that I've made. Being able to connect with people with similar journeys and challenges is awesome. Being able to see the output of work in engineering projects and the people that you meet along the way who have faced the same things or can help you out. So, find your people. This can be applied to all areas of life but it’s particularly important within the engineering industry because the beauty of it is the diversity of thought and shaping the future. But it does mean that you can be isolated, so find your people to keep you going.

Leave The Door Open For The Next Person

A kōrero in an episode that resonated with me was with Elle Archer and Sina Cotter Tait. I interviewed them together. They are both in governance of different capacities and it was about having the other person from the governance space and the importance of that. The essence of the kōrero was that anyone can open the door to the next person, you just have to make sure you don't shut it. It's something that I try and take home with me and that's a big learning that I got from that episode.

Another one just in terms of ideology is Teresa Poli. She talked on her Honours project that construction scars Papatūānuku, so it's understanding how can we make decisions as engineers with that mindset. It's just a different way of thinking that we haven't done before in the industry. I often reflect on that – just because it's different, doesn't mean it's wrong.

Different Voices Are Needed

I hope the podcast can empower rangatahi to use their voice and especially in spaces that haven’t heard it before. There is value in all our voices, perspectives, and learning from each other as we move forward. Belief that different voices are valuable and needed in the industry moves us forward.

Find out more about Alyce’s kaupapa at Whakarongo mai ki te kōnae ipurangi ā 'Māori in Engineering'.