Traditional welcome sets tone for island delegates

The Pacific Trade Invest Pacific Path to Market delegation that was in Auckland to participate at this year’s Pasifika Festival received a traditional Maori welcome at the Te Mahurehure Marae in Point Chevalier a day before the festival.

PTI team and PTI Pacific Path to Market delegates jut before the official welcome at Mahurehure Marae in Auckland.

The traditional welcome with a Maori Powhiri (welcome) at such a traditional venue set the scene for a positive start to the week’s busy activities and was a new cultural experience for many of the 26 participants from eight Pacific Island countries. This was the first time that PTI hosted part of the Pacific Path to Market programme at a Marae.

The PTI Pacific Path to Market programme is a structured approach to helping small exporters from Pacific Island countries gain understanding of the New Zealand market. Last year, PTI hosted 10 Path to Market workshops around the Pacific Islands region. Potential exporters were identified and an invitation extended to attend the Pasifika Festival. This was the biggest group of small business owners invited by Pacific Islands Trade & Invest to attend Pasifika Festival from eight Pacific nations.

Before entering the marae, the diverse group representing Pacific Island cultures from Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia all spent about 20 minutes learning to sing a simple waiata (Maori song) together as part of the response to the Marae welcome. Tamati Norman, Chairman of the New Zealand Papua New Guinea Business Council, and PTI Office Administrator Haukura Jones guided the participants through the protocols of a marae welcome as well as singing of the waiata. (It is Maori protocol for a speaker to make a speech to reply to the welcome by the marae, followed by a song.)

Kaumatua and Cultural Advisor Bill Tangariki conducted the welcome on behalf of the marae. Mr Norman then followed with a reply followed up with the group’s waiata. Dr Manuka Henare of Auckland University also gave a short speech followed by a waiata, the formalities ending with a hongi (pressing of noses between two strangers).

The PTI Marketing and Communications team arranged a media meet up with the participants with several reporters and journalist from the New Zealand media attending. The media session gave the various country groups an opportunity to share their stories with local in various groups for interviews. Journalists from Radio 531 PI, Radio New Zealand, Fairfax Media, Spasifik Magazine, Radio Samoa, Samoa Times, Maori Televison’s Te Kaea and Tagata Pasifika interviewed the participants.

The proceedings of the morning also included briefings by PTI Trade Commissioner Michael Greenslade and Trade Development Managers Joe Fuavao and Ian Furlong who gave out information on how to successfully run a stall at the Pasifika Festival, followed by an Auckland City Council session on hygiene rules surrounding food handling, food temperatures and hand washing.

For some small business owners who had never been to New Zealand or experienced Auckland’s Pasifika Festival before, the day’s events were the start of a steep learning curve that unfolded over the coming days.

In the following week, after the festival concluded, the participants were back at the marae for a speed-dating type series of meetings with New Zealand importers and buyers who wanted to meet them face-to-face and look at their products. Earlier, a Gap Analysis workshop was held after the festival ending at the PTI offices involving all participants.

For more information email PTI Trade Development Manager Ian Furlong at

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