A journey home to the whānau

Unearthing whānau connections and stories is something close to the heart of Aukaha’s newest Mana Ahurea General Manager, Sio Tulia.

Sio (far right) with partner Steve and JP.

Sio Tulia, General Manager Mana Ahurea

Unearthing whānau connections and stories is something close to the heart of Aukaha’s newest Mana Ahurea General Manager, Sio Tulia.

Sio has taken up a fixed term position as General Manager Mana Ahurea during Caron Ward’s appointment as acting Chief Executive while Rachel Wesley is on sabbatical. Sio will be responsible for Aukaha’s design and cultural narrative team.

A descendant of Ngāti Porou from his mother’s side (who grew up in Karitāne), and Hamoa on his father’s, Sio grew up in South Dunedin, Port Chalmers and Aramoana, going back and forth between his parents’ homes. However, connecting to his whakapapa has not come without its challenges.

“I’m on a very late cultural journey,” he says.

“My mum was adopted by English immigrants, so she was raised as Pākehā, and Dad had come here from Samoa in the ‘70s when there was a labour shortage. He wanted the best for us, and so the best way he knew how was to raise us as Palangi.

“I guess you could say we were culturally insensitive to both cultures and raised as ‘Kiwi kids’.

“One day soon I hope to visit my marae and meet my mother’s whānau and understand those whānau connections that we have unfortunately missed out on.”

Sio comes to Aukaha with 30 years’ experience in the public and private sector, mainly legal recruitment, crown entities and property. More recently he was contracting to support businesses either refurbish or move from old premises to new premises, managing their physical relocations, change and communication plans.

He first discovered Aukaha when he was working on the new Dunedin Hospital project. More recently he worked closely with the Mana Ahurea team while doing a contracting stint with the Ministry of Justice, where he engaged Aukaha to help the Ministry with a project at the Dunedin Youth Court.

Sio has taken on this new opportunity to spend more time with his partner Steve and son JP, 14.

“For the last 15 years I’ve been commuting all over the country. And whilst at first it’s lovely, it soon becomes a chore. The ability to do this role with some more whānau time was a huge factor,” he says.

“It was through the Ministry of Justice when I was working with the Māori Land Courts doing similar work to what the team here deliver for their clients, and so this is an extension of that, but it's here, it's at home, and the work the Mana Ahurea team do is really cool.

“I’m really excited to support this talented team and to help them deliver innovative solutions to help build and strengthen mana whenua presence in regional development.  It’s a challenge I’m ready to take on.”

Mana Ahurea, 2024
Aukaha's Mana Ahurea team. Back row from left: Kitty Brown, Caron Ward, Sio Tulia. Front row from left, Aroha Novak, Ashleigh Arthur and Riani Iti-Metuatai. (Absent: Simon Kaan).

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