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Wellington Marae Stay - A Resounding Success For Hindu-Māori Relations

Hindus from around Aotearoa descended on the Wellington region over the weekend for a cultural exchange at Te Kakano O Te Aroha Marae, Lower Hutt. The Hindu Council of New Zealand (Central Region) in collaboration with Hindu Youth New Zealand (HYNZ) helped to bring both the Hindu and Māori communities together through a unique marae stay experience – strengthening Hindu-Māori whanaungatanga (relationship).

The purpose of the event was to provide an opportunity for both communities to learn about each other’s cultures, the similarities, as well as the unique practices and customs – helping support a true cultural exchange.

The powhiri took place on Saturday morning with the presence of Hon Chris Bishop, Member of Parliament; Hutt City Councillor Brady Dyer; Asher Hauwaho, District Maori Responsiveness Advisor, New Zealand Police; as well as Kaumatua Minister Bruce Aranga.

The Hon. Chris Bishop emphasised the importance and significance of communities making an effort to connect with one another, establishing dialogue and discussion to build social cohesion and understanding.

Councillor Dyer congratulated the efforts of The Hindu Council of New Zealand to foster such important dialogue. He observed the similarities between the histories of both communities and said coming together gives an opportunity to unite people for the successful future for all.

Many participants appreciated the efforts undertaken by HCNZ and HYNZ to bring together both communities and were particularly impressed by several youth who wanted to participate in meaningful cultural engagement.

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Participants were given insights into Te Ao Māori (the Māori World) ranging in topics from social customs to spiritual practices. Invited guests gave talks on Moko kauae, Ta moko, Māori carvings and other Māori artforms. The Hindu community was also invited to share about their culture, practices, and values such as “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” - The world Is One Family. A presentation on Hindu-Māori Similarities was given by Murali Krishna Magesan, President, Hindu Youth New Zealand.

“From the family structure to respect of elders, from collective community responsibility to practices of sustainability, from spirituality to cosmological understandings, there are many similarities which exist between Hindu and Māori communities” said Mr. Magesan. “As we continue to hold such significant events, sharing our culture with one another, we continue to see the numerous similarities between our indigenous communities” he added.

As a part of the Marae Stay program, there was an excursion organised at the Lower Hutt War Memorial Library, where the ancient arts of Mehndi and Rangoli were shared with the wider community.

In the past, HCNZ has hosted numerous events in the Wellington region, including a conference organised at Waiwhetu Marae in 2011. However, this was the first time HCNZ hosted a marae stay experience in the Wellington region.

“The marae stay was a resounding success, and we can see the visible strengthening of the ties between Hindu and Māori communities” said Vijeshni Rattan, President, Hindu Council of New Zealand (Central Region). “There is a lot of energy and excitement for our upcoming programs that we are planning for the Wellington region and will be announcing these events soon” she added. Many participants wanted to become volunteers of Hindu Council of New Zealand, after experiencing Marae stay and seeing the presentation on 25 years of community work by HCNZ.

The Marae Stay and workshops are brought to the community with the support and funding of Creative Communities New Zealand (Lower Hutt).

Hindu Youth New Zealand is a youth-led organisation that helps in developing young leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand. Through capability and capacity building initiatives, such as national conferences, workshops, webinars, cultural events, and mentorship programmes, young people are supported to reach their potential and have an opportunity to contribute to the wider New Zealand society.

To get in touch with Hindu Youth New Zealand email hinduyouth.newzealand@gmail.com or contact HYNZ through its social media. Facebook: Hindu Youth New Zealand. Instagram: @hinduyouthnz.

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