Kākati Royal

Company: AECOM

Job title: Kaihautū – Principal Māori Lead Projects 

About Kākati

(Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te-Ātiawa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāi Tahu)

I bring a dynamic professional background encompassing engineering, finance, economics, and tribal leadership. I hold a Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering, a Bachelor of Civil Engineering with First Class Honours, and a Master of Civil Engineering with Distinction. My areas of expertise include seismic engineering, the indigenous Māori perspective, cost engineering, contract administration and project management. With nearly a decade of cultural leadership, I bring a unique and refreshing viewpoint. I am prepared to support ACE New Zealand's mission by addressing complex challenges and promoting the continued success of its members. I believe leadership is about service, not power, and am dedicated to continuous learning, growth and contributing to the future of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Pepeha or whakapapa/family history

Mai i Miria te Kākara ki Whitireia, whakawhiti te Moana o Raukawa ki Wairau, ki Whakatū. Ki Te Ahu Pātiki mai te Pātaka ō Rākaihautū, ki te pū o Te Wheke, i raro o te Poho o Tamatea. He uri tēnei nō roto Te-Ātiawa-ki-Kapiti, Ngāti Raukawa-te-Au-ki-te-Tonga, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Rārua, nō Ngāi Tahu hoki.

I grew up in a tribal village in Porirua and have strong connections across the country. I remain actively involved in contemporary tribal affairs, with a deep understanding of my history and culture. I’m a descendant of influential Treaty signatories like Te Rauparaha, Waitohi, Te Rangi Topeora, Te Ahukaramū, and Matene Te Whiwhi, who appointed the first Māori king. My ancestor, Wi Parata Te Kakakura, was one of the first Māori members of Parliament and played a key role in the landmark legal case, Wi Parata v Bishop of Wellington. Another notable relative, my great-great uncle Rangiātaahua Kiniwē Royal, was a distinguished sportsman, academic and tribal leader who served in both World Wars. In the 1980s, my great-grandparents led Treaty claims for Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Raukawa and Te Ātiawa ki Kāpiti. Today, I’m inspired to continue and honour this legacy.

What is your strategic vision for ACE New Zealand?

My vision for ACE New Zealand is to reinforce the organisation's reputation as a trusted and respected brand, known for the exceptional quality of its members and their contributions to the sector and communities. This involves actively engaging with decision-makers and stakeholders, equipping members with necessary skills, and driving growth and innovation within the sector.

Central to my vision is the pursuit of excellence, innovation and sustainability, underpinned by a deep commitment to integrating te ao Māori and Pasifika principles. My goal is to champion a transformative approach that harmonises traditional engineering practices with the unique cultural insights and values of Māori and Pasifika communities, fostering a more inclusive engineering landscape. To achieve this, I aim to embed principles, such as kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and manaakitanga (care and respect), ensuring that engineering projects honour and protect the environment for future generations. I am committed to advocating for inclusive practices that elevate diverse voices. This approach will help drive the industry towards sustainable development and cultural inclusivity, with ACE New Zealand remaining at the forefront of engineering excellence.

What strengths would you bring to the ACE New Zealand Board?

  • Industry knowledge: A comprehensive understanding of the commercial ecosystem, including key public and private sector players and their interests, values and needs.
  • Entrepreneurial mindset: I bring innovative ideas and a strong ability to identify, understand and capitalise on emerging opportunities, helping members navigate a dynamic market landscape.
  • Strategic vision: With strong critical thinking skills, I excel in aligning organisational goals with market trends and ensuring ACE New Zealand is adaptable and forward-thinking, allowing members to face market challenges confidently.
  • Collaborative leadership: I promote a culture of collaboration and inclusivity, driven by empathy, compassion and a commitment to discipline and accountability, creating an environment where all voices are valued.
  • Commitment to excellence: I uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism, reflecting the values of ACE New Zealand, and ensuring that actions align with the organisation’s mission and vision.
  • Active tribal participation: Leveraging my connections and active involvement as a tribal member, I can bridge the needs and interests of mana whenua with the capabilities of the industry. With a deep understanding of cultural dynamics and contemporary tribal priorities, I ensure te ao Māori is integrated into ACE New Zealand’s initiatives, fostering inclusivity and equity.

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?

Diversity and inclusion embody the principle of manaakitanga – uplifting the mana of the people we work with by including them in shaping the industry. It means creating environments where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents.
Diversity encompasses visible differences and diversity of thought, experiences, and ways of being. Inclusion involves actively removing barriers and biases to ensure equal opportunities for growth and success. Ultimately, diversity and inclusion are vital for fostering innovation, creativity and resilience in our communities and workplaces.

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