Global Learning I: Hospitable Hosts & Deep Dives into New Zealand’s Approach Towards Health and Racial Equity

Global Learning I: Hospitable Hosts & Deep Dives into New Zealand’s Approach Towards Health and Racial Equity

“Let us be good ancestors now – even if we are young – so that we can be good to the next generation to come.” – Marcus Akuhata-Brown, Pouwhakatere Deputy Secretary Māori, Ministry of Justice.


This year marked the first time the Equity Initiative took Global Learning I to New Zealand, the first of two events exploring health equity, as well as historical, cultural and diversity perspectives outside of Asia. Held from 3 to 11 May 2024, captivating visits and insightful conversations coloured our week as guests to our very hospitable hosts.

The indigenous Māori culture is an essential part of New Zealand’s story and after the Welcome Ceremony (Pōwhiri), we were given a warm introduction to their approach towards Health Equity of Promoting Community Resilience by Kerry-Leigh Dougall, Chief Maori Health Officer at the Department of Corrections. Fellows ended the day at Te Rau Karamu Marae with dancing and singing, in the communal tradition of preparing and enjoying dinner together in the wharekai.

Taking full advantage of the Fellows’ immersion into the community, the following days included Site Visits gathering insights from the local experience tackling social and economic determinants, eliminating disparities for Maori in the criminal justice system and addressing primary healthcare. Hosted by three organisations - Kōkiri Marae, Wellington Community Corrections & Tū Kotahi – each with open hearts and a willingness to share openly made the visits a highlight of the learning event.

There was still time for Fellows to unpack the crucial role of leadership through deep discussions with Professor Des Gorman on Reforming the Health System for Equity and Julia Whaipooti (advocate for advocacy and community mobilisation) under the topic of Championing Social Justice: A Leadership Perspective. Nitipat ‘Ong’ Pholchai (2024, Thailand) encapsulated the week’s learnings and experiences, with the word “roots”, an apt description of revisiting and relearning each Fellow’s core beliefs in this new land.

With the end-of-day group debrief and reflections led by a different group of Fellows every evening, each day’s experiences – new, illuminating and thought-provoking – came back to the same question: What could each Fellow learn and bring back to their own context? 

As Yusridar ‘Angie’ Mustafa (2024, Indonesia) reflected about what she experienced from the Māori community said,  “connection, family and spiritual development” are key components for a truly holistic approach to community health beyond what is often emphasized. The journey to learn more about health equity and leadership continues in early June with Global Learning II at Harvard, in the United States.

Marcus Akuhata-Brown speaking to the 2024 Fellows at Te Rau Karamu Marae

The 2024 EI Fellows in between sessions at Te Rau Karamu Marae