Resolution Institute conference

Spotlight on practice

16–17 October 2019, Wellington NZ

Culture shock: urban perspectives on working across cultures in Aotearoa New Zealand

with Irirangi Mako, Crete Sami, Lise Wikitera and Kainee Aguilar

This workshop will provide facilitators, mediators and their managers with the skills to engage meaningfully with people from cultural groups across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Working with whānau from other cultural groups can be intimidating for many practitioners, and a lack of confidence in doing so can translate into uncomfortable and unproductive interactions during the conflict resolution process. Moreover, many cultural competence trainings focus on the rote memorisation of facts about a limited number of cultural groups, rather than on the values, assumptions and universal practices that should lie behind any cross-cultural interaction.

The presenters, who work in the diverse community of South Auckland, aim to address these issues by discussing the following questions:

  • How do we formulate our own cultural identities?
  • How can practitioners apply their knowledge about a certain culture, while avoiding stereotypes and assumptions?
  • How can practitioners work with people from cultures with which they’re unfamiliar?

Irirangi will explain how restorative justice and mediation provider managers can foster positive cross-cultural engagement both amongst staff and in staff-client relations. She will also guide participants through a discussion about how to foster meaningful, informed and productive relationships with Māori communities and organisations in their areas.

Lise will discuss how to employ culturally-informed practices in working with Pacific peoples, focusing specifically on the Samoan community. Lise will cover Samoan cultural values, norms for basic interactions, and correct pronunciation of Samoan names and greetings. Lise will also talk about the traditional Samoan ifoga process, and its similarities to and differences from the Restorative Justice Process.

Participants will come away from the workshop with greater confidence in their ability to work across cultures of all kinds, and with the knowledge required to do so with grace, respect and ease.


Irirangi Mako (Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāruahinerangi, Ngāti Whitikaupeka) spent the first 18 years of her life in Taranaki, fortunate enough to wake up every morning to the majestic Mounga. As the fifth of six children, negotiation and conflict resolution were ways of life for Iri; her whānau and upbringing have played key roles in her personal and professional development.

For the last two years, Iri has been the General Manager of Whānau Ora Services at the Manukau Urban Māori Authority (MUMA). She is a restorative justice facilitator and Te Pae Oranga facilitator trainer. Iri recently completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Business at the University of Auckland, specialising in Māori development. In her spare time, Iri provides pro bono services to her 15 year-old daughter and husband of 20 years!

Crete Sami is the Restorative Justice Team Leader at the Manukau Urban Māori Authority (MUMA), where he has worked since 2013. He is an accredited and experienced facilitator, having helped whānau navigate the restorative justice process in complex cases, such as those involving deaths, WorkSafe claims, and post-conviction requests for restorative justice. Crete now oversees the service’s operations alongside Iri, trains and mentors newer facilitators, and has recently joined the team of restorative justice assessors at Resolution Institute.

Prior to working at MUMA, Crete attained a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology and Social Sciences from AUT University.

Lise Jubilee Wikitera is from the island that beams the light from the heavens, Western Samoa. She hails from the villages of Lufilufi and Puipa’a, and is also a South Auckland native. She now resides in West Auckland with her husband, Barney Wikitera (Alofi, Niue; Te Rarawa), and their two year-old daughter, Wairere.

Lise began her career in restorative justice at Wellington Community Law as a contractor before moving to Auckland and working at the Manukau Urban Māori Authority. As a facilitator for over four years, Lise finds the most joy in working with the culturally diverse community of South Auckland.

Kainee Aguilar is a Restorative Justice Facilitator at the Manukau Urban Māori Authority. She is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, and has lived in Aotearoa New Zealand since 2015.

Kainee’s African-American heritage guides her work, which centres around uplifting the voices and experiences of those marginalised by criminal justice systems globally. To this end, she has worked as a legal advocate and researcher, prison monitor, and community organiser. Kainee earned a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Ethnic Studies from Columbia University in 2015, and plans to undertake further study in the area of conflict transformation.