I had the pleasure of meeting Des when he became Hawke’s Bay Leader of the Year 2018, from there he became a mentor, advocate, friend and kaumātua of the HB Chamber.

In 2020, we created a new logo for the Chamber, and I wanted a te reo strapline to encompass the meaning of what we did. I found te reo words that translated “business chamber” and produced these to Des expecting an instant blessing. Instead, Des talked to me for hours to understand the meaning of the Chamber and my leadership and vision.

Des created our strapline Ko te mana i te reo and explained the meaning behind it;

“The importance of communication – our te reo strapline signifies how your grasp of the language determines the outcome. The integrity of what you say. ‘My word is my bond’, ‘My word is my mana’, ‘If I say it, I will do it’. The value of business is language based, from a handshake to a contract. The power is in the language”

Ko te mana i te reo”

The HB Chamber is the first Chamber in NZ to have a te reo strapline.

A conversation I remember well was Des telling me about his journey with te reo and how his first time publicly speaking the language almost brought him to tears as he was terrified. He also believed tikanga was as important if not more important than te reo. The meaning behind the language, culture values and practices were at the heart of who we are as Māori.

Des encouraged me to walk my own path and find my way in my time. Like many, I was supported by this magnificent man who will be dearly missed. We were all blessed to have been part of Des’s journey on this earth.

Aroha Evelyn and whanau,

Karla Lee
CEO – Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce


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