Day One

Dive Otago

For over two decades, Dive Otago has reigned as a stalwart in the realm of underwater exploration, nestled in the scenic deep South of Aotearoa. Their enduring passion for all things marine welcomes kindred spirits into their vibrant community.

Dive Otago offers PADI Learn to dive courses for beginners and opportunities for career development, catering to divers of all levels. They also offer a selection of scuba diving, spearfishing, and freediving equipment, ensuring divers are well-equipped for their journeys.

Virginia Watson

Virginia Watson is a devoted PADI Instructor at Dive Otago, who enjoys a unique career that allows her to call the enchanting dive sites of New Zealand her office. Her journey into the underwater world began in childhood, inspired by her diving enthusiast parents and fueled by her father’s guidance. 

Virginia’s favourite diving moments span a wide spectrum, from thrilling encounters with grey nurse sharks and rare sea lions to appreciating the delicate beauty of tiny underwater wonders. She encourages those considering New Zealand as a diving destination to embrace its diversity, with caves, wrecks, kelp forests, and more awaiting adventurous divers. Her journey to becoming a PADI Instructor has been supported by her entire family, including her partner and parents, as they understand the significance of her role as both a mother and a dive instructor.


Hīkoi4 Life was founded on the pillars of manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, kōrero awhi, and arohatanga, Hīkoi4Life has been a steadfast community supporter for over 14 years. What began as a humble, low-cost gym with 1,500 members has evolved into the prominent Hīkoi4Life Wellness Hub in the heart of Hastings. This holistic Māori health provider and community services centre exemplifies Les’s dedication to the well-being of his community.

Notably, Hīkoi4Life emerged as a pillar during challenging times, leading and serving the community through Covid-19 and Cyclone Gabriel. This commitment earned them the prestigious Prime Minister’s Recognition Award. While the gym remains at the core, the Wellness Hub offers services ranging from social and employment services to addiction support, counselling, midwife services, clinical psychology, rangatahi programs, and pastoral care. We can expect Jack to showcase his leadership that embodies resilience and compassion, dedicated to the holistic well-being of his community.

Jack Fraser

Jack Fraser, a driving force behind Hīkoi 4 Life since 2010, dedicates his life to uplifting the well-being of the Ngāti Kahungunu community. As a seasoned boxing and personal trainer, Jack not only imparts his fitness expertise but also provides crucial staff pastoral care. In addition to these roles, he spearheads his own kaupapa, Te Hu Ka Uira, guiding rangatahi into te taiao for engagement, exercise, and enhanced wellness.

Haylee Koroi

Haylee Koroi (Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahu & Te Popoto) is based in Hokianga, and has whakapapa ties to Utakura and Pukepoto. Guided by a deep commitment to restoring whanaungatanga, she serves as Kaiārahi Kai Māori at Toi Tangata, supporting whānau to deepen their relationship with kai.  

Her kōrero is inspired by the paper, “Intergenerational Intimacies: A Whakapapa Conceptualisation of Kai,” co-authored by her and Hana Burgess, where she explores the deep ties between food, whakapapa, and the well-being of past and future generations. Anticipate an insightful journey that brings our intergenerational intimacies with kai to the centre, pushing back against dominant settler colonial ways of knowing.

Day Two

Hauteruruku ki Puketeraki

Established in 2011, Hauteruruku is a sub-tribal based waka club situated in the picturesque Karitāne, dedicated to fostering the connection between whānau, awa & moana through waka. Led by Brendan and Suzi Flack, Hauteruruku originated from the aspiration to construct their own waka hourua, a venture that now lends its name to the club.

Brendan, currently at the helm as the project leader of the Coastal People: Southern Skies grant ‘Ruruku,’ is at the forefront of a collaborative initiative that brings the community together for wānanga, focusing on the planning and construction of traditional sailing canoes. Hauteruruku is currently close to completion of their third waka hourua.

Adjacent to the waka building shed lies a flourishing māra kai, overseen by Kaumatua George Meikle. The Puketeraki Māra kai is a thriving source of diverse vegetables, fruits, and a native plant nursery, meticulously tended to by a dedicated cadre of community members. This sustainable haven serves as a prolific supplier of health kai for the Karitāne community.

The Puketeraki Māra kai has expanded to include workshops that unite whānau in activities such as compost making, the development of fertiliser from invasive undaria seaweed, and the acquisition of skills in sowing, growing, and harvesting both kai and native plants. Hauteruruku, through its waka endeavours and Māra kai initiatives, embodies a commitment to cultural enrichment, community engagement, and sustainable practices.

Day Three

Tangaroa Ara Rau

Tangaroa Ara Rau is a collective of Māori (Indigenous peoples from Aotearoa New Zealand) water practitioners passionate about kaupapa wai (the essence of and programmes connected to the water) and connecting whānau (families) to the water. 

Tangaroa is a Māori water deity and immediately centres the importance of spirituality, identity and culture for Indigenous peoples. Tangaroa Ara Rau was formed to provide a collective for Māori water safety practitioners to exercise mana motuhake (self-determination) and advocate for Māori communities. 

Together, the collective has many years of experience in kaupapa Māori research, training and education in water safety, swimming, waka, surfing, freediving, ocean diving, ruku kai, mahinga kai and other water related activities.

Rob Hewitt 

Rob (Ngati Kahungunu) is the Kaihautu of Tangaroa Ara Rau and has a wealth of knowledge and experience with 20 years in the Royal New Zealand Navy, sailing double hull Waka and, his epic story of survival and supporting organisations at a local community, hapū, iwi, and national level. 

Dr Terina Raureti 

Terina Raureti (Ngāti Kapu, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Rangitihi)  is the Kauora lead for Tangaroa Ara Rau and has recently graduated her PhD Kauora: A Theory and Praxis of swimming for Māori. Terina resides in Ōtaki and is a Māmā of one and is now a Postdoctoral Fellow with CPSS – Coastal People Southern Skies.

Dr Ngahuia Mita  

Ngahuia Mita (Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngāti Konohi, Ngāti Hako) is the waka lead for Tangaroa Ara Rau, she is a research fellow for the Centre of Indigenous Science and Va’a Tautai – The Pacific Health Research Centre. Ngahuia is also a kaumoana on Tairāwhiti Waka based in Turanganui a Kiwa. Ngahuia has recently graduated her PhD, Tairāwhiti Waka: Tairāwhiti Tāngata: Examining Tairāwhiti Voyaging Philosophies.