It's often stated that having a great culture is one of the keys to a successful sports team, and the same can be said about the overall success of an organisation.

But what actually is organisational/team culture?

Basically, it's a system of shared values, assumptions, beliefs and norms held by members of an organisation or team – it is essentially "the way we do things around here".

It is about the behaviour of people and the meanings that they attach to their actions. It is also the pattern of collective behaviours and assumptions that are taught to new organisational members. Organisational culture affects the way people and groups interact with each other, with clients and with stakeholders.


A great culture has a positive impact on organisational/team effectiveness when it supports the organisational goals, is widely shared and is internalised by members. It creates satisfied employees and customers, cohesive teams, and a profitable and growing business.

Developing and sustaining a great culture has been a priority at Sport Northland for many years. It needs to be consistently worked on and monitored, otherwise it can head in the wrong direction.

Here is a sample of the things Sport Northland does to sustain a great culture:

· People and culture are prioritised in the organisation's strategic plan

· A focus on the individuals of the organisation – Sport Northland's wrap-around whakatauki is "He aha te mea mui o tenei ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! What is the most important aspect in this world? It is people, it is people, it is people"

· Sport Northland operates a "Te Roopu Hauora", which is committed to creating and sustaining a fun workplace environment which promotes healthy lifestyle choices, and discussing and developing initiatives which impact workplace culture

· Sport Northland also operates "Te Roopu Puawai", which works towards providing all staff with education and guidance in tikanga Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi principles

· Recruitment is just as much based around "fit" with the organisation than experience, skills and qualifications (right people with the right skills)


· A focus on individuals living and breathing the organisation's core values and culture principles

· Monitoring culture through a suite of different measures

· Reporting regularly to the board of trustees on organisational culture

As a charitable trust we know we can't compete with other industries/sectors when it comes directly to remuneration, so this is where prioritising culture helps to attract people to the organisation and ensures that we have good retention of those people .

However, when it comes to remuneration, we have recently adopted the Living Wage, lifting the minimum wage paid by the organisation up over the $20 mark. This is a way to recognise that, although our people are passionate about what they do, they also need to earn more than the minimum wage in order to provide for their whanau.

The Living Wage has emerged as a response to growing poverty and inequality that continues to hold back so many Kiwi workers, their families and our economy. The Living Wage concept is very simple, yet such a powerful alternative – it's the hourly wage a worker needs to pay for the necessities of life and participate as an active citizen in the community.

It reflects the basic expenses of workers and their families such as food, transportation, housing and childcare, and is calculated independently each year by the New Zealand Family Centre Social Policy Unit.