Australia might have claimed Phar Lap; Pavlova and Crowded House as their own, but we can proudly say the dazzling Hiko Hauraki team is all ours!
Today, the team will represent New Zealand in the finals of the 25th Local Government Australasian Management Challenge, competing against the winners of each state and territory in Australia. We’ve come close in the past (team mentor, Charan Mischewski, competed in team Hauraki Gold, which placed third in New Zealand in 2014), but this is the first time that we have represented New Zealand at the Australasian final.
The team, made up of six staff from different departments within Council, won the New Zealand round of the competition back in August.
Now they get to do it all again, with even higher stakes! And they don’t even get a trip to Australia to sweeten the pressure. Covid-19 changed the face of the competition, with both legs of the challenge taking place via video link from our own offices. Even without the promise of an overseas trip, the team have put their heart and soul into the training and lead up to each event.
Trust and preparation secret to team’s success
“I think our secret sauce has to be trust and preparation. We have had the benefit of well organised preparation (thanks to Charan) which gave us a chance to work together as a team well before the challenge. This helped us really gel as a team and helped us understand each other’s strengths”, said Team Leader Chris Zampeze.
“The longer preparation time also helped us build trust within the team. Challenge day is pretty intense, and often you don’t know what else your teammates are doing, so trusting them and knowing they will ask for help if they need it was really the key to being able to focus on your own tasks”, he added.
Focusing on the right things, critical
“We expect the final to be even more intense than the regional round. With it still being via video conference it’s hard to know exactly what to expect, but I’m sure the tasks will be more detailed and the judging more critical!
The regional challenge really showed us how intense the challenge day can be. The timeframes are very short, and I think one of the main takeaways from the day was the real need to be concise – identify the main points and outcomes required and really focus on those”, said Chris.
Charan said that the team started preparation eight months before the challenge date.
“We did targeted training including brainstorming techniques, presentation skills, debating, media skills, report writing, and mediation tactics. All these skills are transferrable to the workplace whether it be working with colleagues, the public or elected members.”
Team member, Grace Davies, also rated the team aspect the most valuable part of the experience.
“I now know more about who does what in council, and the role of local government. This has helped me immensely in my day to day role”, she said.
Who are our Hiko Hauraki heroes?
Hiko can be interpreted as lightening or electric, and this team certainly sizzles! They are:
Chris – Team Leader, Development Team Leader, Corporate Services
Sarah – Strategic Planner, Planning and Environmental Services
Rebecca – Economic Development Officer, Community Services and Development
James– Asset Engineer, Engineering Services
Lisa – Project Manager – Engineering Services
Grace – Planner, Planning and Environmental Services
Charan - (team mentor), Strategic Planner, Planning and Environmental Services
Good luck for today, Hiko Hauraki!
“This is the fifth time that we have entered a team and each and every time I have really noticed the benefits that are gained by having a team from across the organisation working as one”, said CEO Langley Cavers.
“As the smallest council to put a team forward this year, I’m sure you’ll feel as proud as I do that we’ve taken out the top spot in the country against much bigger city councils.
It just goes to show what I’ve always known, which is that our staff are of a very high calibre and among the best local government professionals in New Zealand. I’m extremely proud of the team and I can’t wait to see how we get on against the cream of Australia today”.
What is the Local Government Australasian Management Challenge?
In its 25th year, the Australasian Management Challenge involves teams of six local government staff and a mentor, tackling a series of real-life scenarios based on the kinds of management challenges that may arise in their day-to-day working environment. This year’s event was held virtually due to Covid-19.