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Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui

Higgins’ workplace literacy and numeracy programme is inspired by this Māori whakatauki (be strong, be bold, be steadfast) – and it takes its name from the same: Kia Maia.

Higgins employs approximately 1,700 people across New Zealand. It offers a fully integrated complement of civil construction services and infrastructure products including major infrastructure, road and asset maintenance, regional infrastructure and roading technologies. This iconic Kiwi business has a broad scope of activities, including everything from wind farms and car parks to making the bitumen we use on our roading network in Aotearoa.

Sharon Scott, Head of People, HigginsSharon Scott is Head of People at Higgins and a champion of workplace literacy projects.

In this article, she talks to us about the journey at Higgins and the impact of Kia Maia.


What motivated you to engage with workplace communication training?

I have seen the success of these programs in other organisations and knew that within Higgins we had a similar need. We wanted to provide training to help our employees improve their communication skills not just in verbal and written form, but also digital.  We rely more and more on good communication in all facets of our business, so our team members must be supported to ensure they have the skills required.


What benefits have you seen from an organisational point of view?

Benefits are often intangible but from the feedback of participants, you know their confidence in all modes of communication is improving. For us as a business, this will flow through to improved health and safety as people feel more confident to speak up and to ask if they do not understand an SOP, etc. It also flows through to teams working more effectively together as they improve their communication skills.

What’s been the most surprising benefit of rolling out Kia Maia?

The benefit is the flow on to employee’s life outside of work. People have become more confident in their communication with their partners and their whanau. Also, people can read stories to their mokopuna which are all great benefits of the program. And the number of people learning online now!

What are people across the business saying about the training?

They are seeing the results of people’s confidence and ability building.


What do you hope will be the legacy of Kia Maia?

A workforce that has a higher level of confidence and skills in terms of all forms of communication including verbal, written and digital. And the confidence to speak up if people are not comfortable about something.

What are the factors you think have made Kia Maia successful?

The great support of Upskills. Their amazing tutors are so skilled at working and connecting with our workforce.  Their flexibility around delivery methodology as we dealt with Covid restrictions and also around times of day, to fit with the changes in our work environment.

Higgins learners on a Zoom call

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About our workplace Literacy and Numeracy course.

Upskills Ltd.

Address: 93 Church St, Onehunga, Auckland 1061
Free parking: 120 minutes, Gerrard Beeson Pl.
Phone: 09 622 3979