15 March 2024

More similar than different

A day of immersion in tikanga Māori left members of our Asian Employees Network (AEN) feeling there were more similarities than differences between the cultures.

The noho marae experience at Papakura Marae for staff of Asian descent is the third to be held since 2022, with support from the Corrections Inclusion and Diversity Council. 

Papakura means ‘Red Earth’ or ‘Red Flats’, as the soil in the area is of a particularly bright-red hue.

Over 30 AEN staff and supporting colleagues from across Corrections, including Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, and Whanganui, attended the AEN’s Noho Marae hui at Papakura Marae in Auckland.


Panmure Service Manager Judy Wan, who chairs the network, says the main purpose is to “explore connections between the Māori and Asian cultures”.

“Noho means to sit or stay. So, for a day, we create room to learn more about Māori culture and customs, not only to widen our own understanding, but also to support the people we manage in an appropriate way.”

Judy, who is well-versed in te reo Māori, continues: “Our Noho Marae is a unique wānanga for us, migrant employees with Asian roots, to learn more about Te Tiriti, and experience tikanga Māori and kawa in a traditional marae setting. We all now feel connected to Papakura Marae and have a sense of belonging by having the ancient traditions entrusted to us.”

Northern Regional Adviser Māori Toko Nathan, Manukau Service Manager Greg Wipani, and Franklin-based Community Corrections Practice Leader Danny Tauroa, led presentations and kōrero on topics such as the significance of the different elements of the pōwhiri, insight into the Whānau Engagement Model (Working with Whānau), and the etymology of each of the Ara Poutama values.

“Our values are not just words; they are a way of living,” says Greg.

Over 30 AEN members also learned more about the history of Papakura Marae from kaimahi Kahi Wilson Kotahi.

“The building project of our working marae commenced in 1979. Over the years the marae and Corrections have forged a strong relationship, starting from the very beginning when Community Work parties helped clear the grounds ahead of the construction project.”

To the attendees of the hui, Kahi said, “Now that you’ve officially been welcomed onto the marae, you are part of our whānau and welcome to visit anytime, sit down for kai, or lend a hand. This is a whare tangata [house of human kindness]. Plus, there’s always dishes to be done!”

In closing, Kahi shared a whakatauki that talks about both the making of connections and collaboration that may ensue as people work towards supporting a common vision, “Kotahi te kohao o te ngira e kuhuna ai te miro ma, te miro pango, te miro whero. Through the eye of the needle pass the white thread, the black thread, and the red thread.”

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