Recognising multi-cultural Aotearoa: Aurecon’s holiday swap initiative

Aurecon employees can now swap Easter for Eid – or another day that is important to them, religiously or culturally.

The company’s new cultural holiday swap initiative allows all Aurecon staff members in New Zealand and Australia to swap out two public holidays each year to celebrate festivals or special days that are more important to them.  

Many of New Zealand's statutory holidays fall around Christian celebrations that hold little or no significance for many members of Aotearoa’s diverse population, says Josie Fitzgerald, Aurecon’s New Zealand Land and Water Leader.  

"We recognise that different people celebrate different festivals, or mark periods that are important to their cultural heritage or religious background. 

"We want to give everyone time off to celebrate what is important to them – as individuals and as families."

Swaps need to take place in the same calendar year and there are a few exceptions. Christmas is off the table as Aurecon shuts down for a couple of weeks to ensure everyone gets a chance to rest and spend time with family and friends. 

Days of significance to Aotearoa can’t be swapped either, for different reasons.

"Waitangi Day and Matariki are culturally significant to all New Zealanders and observed out of respect and acknowledgement of tāngata whenua, and our obligations to Te Tiriti."

"We think it’s important our whole team continues to observe these holidays,” says Josie, who has been leading Aurecon’s He Rautaki Māori (Māori strategy), which also has diversity and respect for the Māori worldview at its core.

"At Aurecon most of our work is largely associated with infrastructure – working with water and changing the landscape and environment, which hold great significance in te ao Māori. So it’s important we do so with an understanding of mātauranga Māori and in partnership with Māori.  

"Our strategy is also about creating an environment at Aurecon where Māori can succeed and where we can attract and retain Māori leaders, to create better outcomes for all New Zealanders.  

"Aurecon has just appointed its first Pou Ārahi Māori Leader to continue on our journey to improve Aurecon’s Māori cultural capability and lead the development of enduring partnerships with mana whenua and Māori."

Josie sees the cultural holiday swaps as an extension of Aurecon’s flexible ways of working.  

These include a new working holiday option to enable employees to reconnect with friends and family overseas post COVID-19, and a shared care parental leave policy that supports both parents to play a more active part in caring for their children.  

"We are all about inclusivity at Aurecon, and flexibility and inclusivity go hand in hand. This is just another way to acknowledge the uniqueness and personal circumstances of our people.” 

Although it's a new initiative that was launched in January this year, feedback so far has been positive, Josie says. 

"Internally, people are saying they’re happy and grateful to have their culture or religion recognised, and there’s been a lot of positive feedback on our social channels. 

“We’ve had several people apply so far and we expect the numbers to grow as we move throughout the year.

"I’m excited to see how many people make the most of the opportunity."

Find out more about Aurecon's diversity, equality and inclusion policies.