Tena koutou katoa (hello everybody in Māori), our Southport Community Centre recently experienced New Zealand’s beauty through their Arm Chair Travel Program. The site was alive with the sounds of ceremonial dance and the scent of delicious traditional food. Celebrating Waitangi Day was a great way to experience New Zealand’s culture from the comfort of their site.

When you join an Afford Community Centre, you will be given opportunities to share cultures, celebrate differences and appreciate what makes our communities unique.

Waitangi Day is held annually on the 6th of February and commemorates when New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed. It was an excellent opportunity to start new conversations with clients and for staff to share their heritage.

“Southport have several Kiwi staff, so getting to share where we’re from and a piece of our culture was a pleasure,” said Senior Lifestyle Assistant, Laurie-Lee Te Paea.

Like on holidays, staff prepared an itinerary for the day, filled with a range of cultural activities for clients to experience. The day began with the traditional Māori greeting, the hongi and learning about Waitangi Day. Then, it was time for activities.

“The clients and staff enjoyed being able to try on a Korowai & a manaia, which is a bone carving. The Korowai can be used at graduations, significant birthdays, weddings and funerals. Steven showed how men usually wear the Korowai,” continued Laurie-Lee.

The day was a massive team effort, with all staff coming together to share their strengths and make the day a success.

“I am so thankful to Tai and Kellie. Tai taught everyone some history behind Waitangi Day, sung for us and taught us all a Haka and translated the meaning. Kellie set up the day, prepared and cooked hangi with Rēwena (Maori bread) for lunch, taught us all to make poi’s with a beautiful demonstration and sung for us,” said Laurie-Lee.

The day ended with a waiata (a song in Māori) and a trifle for dessert. Everyone’s hearts and stomachs were full and both clients and staff felt grateful for the experience.

Find out more about how Afford Community Centres encourage diversity and celebrate culture.

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