Awhi is here to help! We have answers to your frequently asked questions (pātai) about government relations, lobbying and engagement below.


What is government relations?

In technical terms, government relations is the process of influencing public and government policy at all levels (local, regional, national and even global).  It involves the advocacy of an interest that is affected, actually or potentially, by the decisions of government leaders. 

In real terms, it is most commonly seen as getting in front of Members of Parliament (Legislature), the Executive (Ministers) and Officials (Public Servants) to advocate for support on a kaupapa (issue) or matter.

Is government relations the same as lobbying?

Essentially, yes. Lobbying, advocacy, government relations, political engagement: they are different terms for the same activity. Effective government relations is actioned through a variety of different mechanisms, at a range of different levels, depending on your kaupapa. 

To lobby well is to know how to appropriately leverage a range of engagement opportunities and best land your kaupapa in the eyes of decision makers so they know who you are, what you do, why you’re approaching them, and how you can help them (or how they can help you!).

Knowing what to say when you’re in the room is just as important as getting in the room in the first place.

What size does my business need to be to seek government relations assistance?

Government relations can be of value to businesses of every size, however it is important to know what you want to achieve. Before you start, Awhi will work with you to identify why you want to lobby, and what you want to achieve.

How do I know I need government relations advice?

Organisations most commonly seek government relations assistance to:

  • influence policy decisions and be part of policy discussions
  • provide feedback on current challenges
  • position themselves as sector leaders
  • have a say through proposed regulatory changes
  • be top of mind when decision makers offer funding opportunities.

What kind of issues can you lobby?

Almost any issue can be lobbied. We will advise you – at no cost – as to whether we believe that utilising government relations services could reasonably assist you in achieving the outcome you seek.

How much does government relations advice cost?

Fees vary across the industry. The sector is unregulated, which means that you must take extra care to ensure you are getting value for money.

Awhi has a standard set of Terms of Engagement that apply in respect of all work carried out for clients by us. For example, we believe all government relations professionals should:

  • carry out work for clients in a timely and competent way
  • protect and promote client interests, free from compromising influences or loyalties
  • charge clients a fee that is fair and reasonable, letting clients know how and when they will be billed.

At every stage of engagement, we keep you informed of how we are tracking on a time/cost basis.

How does Awhi charge for its services?

As well as traditional consulting, Awhi has streamlined service offerings that can be utilised by organisations trying to access meaningful, bespoke advice, while staying on budget. All clients interested in engaging are provided a standard pricing sheet.

What can I expect when engaging Awhi?

Transparent communication with high integrity individuals working within a kaupapa-Māori organisation, which prides itself on always aiming for the best outcomes for all its clients.

Does Awhi have a code of conduct or an ethical framework?

In Huitanguru (February) 2024 Awhi adopted the Awhi Lobbying Principles. These principles aim to outline best practice expectations for lobbying, so everyone who aims to influence government decisions understands their role in maintaining public trust in the integrity of our democracy.

Who does Awhi represent?

In line with our Transparency Principle, Awhi proactively discloses the identity of organisations, individuals and foreign states being represented. As at Tuesday 2 April, Awhi represents:

  • Tuatahi First Fibre
  • Restaurant Association of New Zealand
  • Kookiri ki Taamakimakaurau Trust
  • Te Piringa Hapū
  • Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust
  • Te Arawa Lakes Trust
  • Re.Group
  • Ario (3KM Technology)
  • Tuu Whakahee Waipiro Limited
  • Mātauranga Iwi Leaders Group
  • Banqer
  • Diane Hunt

Can Awhi help me with other mahi?

The broad expertise of the team at Awhi offers opportunities to provide support and advice in many areas, which may support your kaupapa. As well as government relations, we have expertise in:

  • communication consultancy services including strategy, advice, development
  • legislation development and machinery of government
  • Māori engagement and policy design (including te Tiriti o Waitangi)
  • public relations consultancy services.

Why should I choose Awhi over other government relations firms?

As a kaupapa Māori firm, we believe in supporting the ambitions of organisations that work to advance the collective: our mahi is not based on win or lose, rather it is about supporting the way you think, act and make decisions. Our role is to help make your engagement simple.

Our Founder and Kaitūhono Ariki, Holly Bennett, is a zealous advocate of transparent and accessible government, and is committed to leading a team that is dedicated to making political engagement simple and effective.

Where is Awhi located?

You can find us at Level 1, 1A York Street, Te Tī Tutahi (Newmarket), Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).

How do you lobby?

Lobbying can take on many forms. We are big believers in whakawhanaungatanga (relationship building) and adopt this as a central pou in everything we do. Awhi will remain alongside you throughout the entire process: from determining your issues and mapping out a pathway to achieve outcomes, to execution and productive engagement.

We have a saying we adopted following a training session in Rotorua. This saying inspires how we work: “stay easy on the relationship, stay hard on the kaupapa”.

My business is small, do I need government relations advice?

Have a chat to us about your issues and what you are hoping to achieve through engagement with policy makers.  Remember that sometimes the smallest of organisations can have the most powerful message if done right.

Why are you called Awhi?

We adopted the name Awhi in Pipiri | June 2021 to better represent the mahi we do across the motu (country).  At its core, awhi means to embrace, enfold, surround, nurture and support; this is how Awhi provides its advocacy – we are invested in the kaupapa of our clients.

Are you a Living Wage Employer?

Āe! We are! We believe it is a small, meaningful thing we can do to support the lowest wage earners in our economy.

How do I start my Awhi engagement?

Jump to the ‘Let’s Talk’ tab at the top of the page and decide from there!  You can send us an email or submit an instant enquiry, which will form the first step in your journey with Awhi. From there, we will review the information provided and gather any further details we need to understand your issue. If we can assist with your kaupapa, we will then organise a time to kōrero.

Let’s Kōrero

Convinced we are the government relations firm for you?
If you would like to join us, kōrero mai.

Level 1, 1A York Street
Newmarket, Tāmaki Makaurau