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Indigenous Women on the Rise

Success Stories 5 Oct 2018

From an early age, Rachel Petero (Tainui – Waikato) gravitated towards strong, Māori women – including her mother and grandmothers and it was these women that Rachel was able to draw strength and confidence from. Having those early impressions inspired Rachel in later years to establish RISE 2025, a coaching and leadership movement for 100,000 indigenous women.

Rachel shares with PCF her role as an entrepreneur, business coach and mentor and the importance of fostering strong, influential indigenous women.

“I was blessed with amazing role models, my mother was a caretaker at Avondale School then she went back to uni at the age of 40 to get her Bachelor of Education working nights and studying during the day. This taught me resilience and work ethic.”

“Also two of my grandmothers from Tainui both had strong leadership attributes: humility, steadfastness in beliefs and doing what's right not what's easy. My pathway was set by my tupuna (ancestors) to serve purposeful and mindful leaders who then serve many. And so their legacy lives on through the generations."

Growing up in Avondale, West Auckland, Rachel recalls that although it was an “economically challenging” environment, it set her up to be entrepreneurial and savvy. However, like many Māori who were raised in urban areas she maintained her links to her Pā thanks to her parent’s regular visits to the Mangatangi Marae between Mangatawhiri and Miranda.

After finishing her studies, Rachel developed a successful career in advertising, working as an executive in a creative design agency based in Ponsonby before jetting off to Europe and the Middle East, spending a total of 16 years away from her home country.

Moving to Qatar in 2011, Rachel shifted her HR consulting business focus from supporting all women to serving indigenous women in leadership and business. ANd she has never looked back.

“The market is swamped with corporate leadership models and programmes, and those definitely serve a need. But there was nothing there that identified the distinct leadership traits and characteristics of indigenous peoples – more specifically, indigenous women.”

Thinking back to her earlier life when she was surrounded by influential women, Rachel started training as a professional coach which led her to research and trial several methods to approaching indigenous women while still living in Qatar. This is where partnered with Jeanine Bailey of Empower World, a Rise2025 business partner and Master Coach.

Things took another fortunate turn when Rachel’s husband was offered a position in New Zealand and they returned home.

Adjusting and settling back in New Zealand, Rachel began developing and fine tuning her programme which she calls a “movement” – Rise 2025. Rise 2025 is the only International Coach Federation accredited programme focused on serving and empowering indigenous women.

In 2015, Rachel launched Rise 2025 in partnership with the Māori Women's Development Inc. setting a goal of positively impacting 100,000 indigenous women and girls globally by the year 2025. It aims to achieve this by connecting indigenous women to the power and techniques of coaching in business and leadership through a cultural lens and a foundation of Māori values and indigenous protocols and practices.

In 2018, Te Pūni Kokiri supported five Māori women from Ngāti Tamaoho (Rachel's hapu or sub-tribe). Pacific women are now part of the programme in New Zealand and have also taken interest in the programme after a successful three-day retreat in Samoa in June.

Rachel was involved with the recent Samoa Business Network awards, sponsoring the SUGA Business Woman award. The winner of the award, Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai of Samoa Stationery and Books (SSAB) will be part of the 2019 Rise 2025 intake.

With the World Indigenous Business Forum taking place next week in Rotorua, Rachel will be focused on targeting another three indigenous nations to launch in 2019.

“Our leadership skills are just as worthy, just as good, if not better than any other leadership programme I’ve experienced globally."

"We will be piloting a Mana Tāne programme for Māori and Pacific Island men in 2019. Eventually I would like to include our non-indigenous women because what we have is valuable to them too. However right now I need to serve indigenous first, the time is now, we need to serve ourselves our way."

Photo cred: Te Rawhitiroa Bosch