Partnerships in action: why, who and how – Melinda Loe
As interpreters we know (thanks to Tilden);
“The best interpretation comes from the heart and is laced with imagination, creativity, inspiration, relevance and personal commitment.”
It’s great when we can bring all that to a project, but it’s not always possible, as interpreters, to do so every time. Most of us are in this for a career; let’s say you’re working in interpretation for twenty years with two projects a year. That’s forty projects you need to have room for in your heart – plus lace them all with imagination, creativity, relevance and personal commitment.
They won’t all be your stories to tell, and some will be stories with more than one perspective. You may not always have the resources you need/want to interpret the story, or to market it to the intended audience.
If any of the above applies, a partnership is most probably the solution.
As outlined in Sarah Mankelow’s blog What we have learned from working in partnership, shared vision is key to a successful partnership. Most partnerships in interpretation are motivated by the story – a desire or need to tell the story or enable the story to be heard. The story will be at the heart of your shared vision. It will be a guide to whom to partner with – or at least it’ll give clues.
For Kotahi Tourism’s tour ‘Poihākena tours: stories of Māori in Sydney’, clearly the story is Māori in Sydney. Like most stories, it’s not an isolated one and links to both Australia and New Zealand’s colonial history.
It’s a story that spans 222 years, from kidnapping in 1793 to the present where one in five Māori now live in Australia.
It’s a Māori story being told on Gadigal Country where Māori are not Tangata Whenua.
These are the ‘clues’ to Kotahi Tourism’s partnerships – the individuals, businesses, community groups and organisations we work collaboratively with – to enable the story of Māori in Sydney to be told and heard.
There are many factors that contribute to a successful partnership: common vision, positive outcomes for all, respect and clarity are on the list.
One that’s often overlooked though is sustainability of the partnership; this is particularly important for organisations. Partnerships are often initiated through individual connections. Sustainability of longer-term partnerships needs to be planned, to ensure the longevity of the partnership can survive beyond the individual connection.
While partnerships don’t always need to be formalised, a contract, memorandum of understanding or even a registration form provides opportunity to ensure agreement on shared vision and clarity of outcomes, deliverables, costs and deadlines.
By working together collaboratively with the story at the heart of our interpretation partnerships, we can strengthen stories and enrich visitor experiences.
Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati, ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati. Nā Kīngi Tāwhiao
If there is but one toetoe stem it will break, but if they are together in a bundle they will never break
Melinda is Managing Director of Kotahi Tourism – an award-winning Australian based-business built in partnership with husband Hohepa Ruhe. Kotahi Tourism tells Aboriginal and Māori stories of Sydney and the NSW Coast , working in partnerships with Tangata Whenua – Te Iwi Moemoea (Indigenous Australians).