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As the kaitiaki of Mahi a Atua, Te Kurahuna specialises in both the initial training, and the ongoing professional and personal development of the Mataora workforce. Consistent with the concept that collective consciousness produces systemic change, the development of a Mataora workforce is not discipline, profession, sector or role specific. Nor is Mahi a Atua training and practice limited to Māori only. Mahi a Atua wānanga reach across the community, recognising that anyone has the potential to be an agent of change (Te Kurahuna Ltd, 2019).

Meet Our Team

Your Instructors, Teaching Team and Art Community

We are excited to bring innovation and creativity to a wider community, locally, regionally, nationally and now internationally. Te Kurahuna community spans a multitude of community spaces. A wide range of Mataora are stakeholders in your success in learning about Mahi a Atua. As a learner, you’ll interact with:

Puna Matatau / Instructors

Te Kurahuna Ltd is a collaborative partnership between husband and wife – Mark and Dr Diana Kopua who are experts in their respective fields. Mark and Dr Di are co-founders and co-directors of Te Kurahuna Ltd.

Puna Tauira/ Teaching Team

Receive support from a team of Mataora with Mahi a Atua facilitation expertise. These experienced practitioners are present to guide discussion, foster peer connection and provide feedback on your assignments.

Puna Toi / Art Community

Be inspired by our Mahi a Atua art community who can help expand your creative thinking. During wānanga our moko artists, romi romi practitioners, performing artists, poets, story tellers and creative thinkers will be available to engage with.

Meet our Team

Mark Kopua

Mark was raised in Mangatuna, by his old people and is considered a historian by his East Coast tribes of the North Island in New Zealand; Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Ngāti Ira and Ngāti Porou. He was the master carver for several meeting houses both on the East Coast as well as in the lower North Island. He and a small group of moko artists are responsible for the reinstatement of moko into New Zealand society.  Mark has been employed in many national and international roles and one unique role has been to provenance artefacts. For many years he was a board member of the national Māori art advocacy, Toi Māori. He has trained several moko artists and continues to work as a moko artist and design consultant in addition to holding the position as a co-director for Te Kurahuna. He is a confident facilitator of whānau hui and his approach to healing is celebrated by communities as he embraces his unique skills as a storyteller and keeper of ancient Māori knowledge and whakapapa.  

Dr Diana Kopua

Diana is of Ngāti Porou descent although raised in Porirua under the umbrella of Ngāti Toa.  In 1990 Diana began her journey in the health industry, training first as a nurse.  Diana developed Mahi a Atua in the mid-90s and then in 2002 studied medicine at the University of Otago. In 2014 she completed her specialist training in psychiatry and is a Fellow of the Royal Australia New Zealand College of Psychiatry. Mahi a Atua was embedded into several services and it became the philosophy behind the ground-breaking Te Kūwatawata service and Te Hiringa Matua (a parenting and pregnancy service working with families struggling with addictions). These services aim to address institutional constraints that impact negatively on Māori.  Diana was the Clinical Lead for both these services in their inception and development. Diana continues to lead change through her collaboration with her husband Mark Kopua and together they are growing a collective of Mataora (change agents who are trained in Mahi a Atua) who work to indigenise their respective communities of practice. 

Bronwyn Williams

Bronwyn Williams comes from many iwi in Te Tairāwhiti but claims Te Waihirere as her


Bronwyn returned home to Te Tairāwhiti from south Auckland in 2012 after engaging in
mauri ora training with Te Korowai Aroha o Aotearoa and following a pathway into rongoā
under the encouragement of Mate Tihema and Hineterā Jones which grew her desire to
reconnect with her own whenua.

In 2013 as part of that reconnection journey she started at Toihoukura: School of
Contemporary Māori Arts and completed her BA in Māori visual arts in 2015.

She was introduced to Mahi a Atua in 2016 when she applied for mahi with a
pēpi/parenting/whānau kaupapa named Te Hiringa Matua in Te Tairāwhiti. The attraction to
this Mataora position came from personal experience but also the value that is placed on
Māori, art and artists as part of the community healing pathways.

Bronwyn then went on to work for the kaupapa designed by Tohunga Mark and Dr Diana
Kopua, Te Kūwatawata ki Tūranga which offers not just a gateway for people in distress but
evidences greater outcomes for Māori.

Inspired by the vision of Dr Diana Kopua, Tohunga Mark Kopua and Mataora ki te Tairawhiti
who were engaged in weekly Mahi a Atua wānanga with Te Kurahuna and all practicing the
3 principals Bronwyn set out to deepen her understanding of the kaupapa thus, becoming
the first employee for Te Kurahuna.

Bronwyn continues to work for Te Kurahuna and actively practices the 3 mātāpono of Mahi
a Atua. In the 3 years of employment has witnessed not only her own growth but that of the
the old and new Mataora that continue to grow this kaupapa.

Fern Ruru

Ko Maungahaumi te Maunga
Ko Waipaoa te awa
Ko Horouta te Waka
Ko te Aitanga a Mahaki te iwi
Ko Fern Ruru tōku ingoa 

Fern studied a degree in nursing as a young mum where she worked in Gisborne and Auckland as an RN.  The frustration of witnessing poor outcomes for Maori in the health system motivated her to look for change.  Joining the whānau at Te Kurahuna has not only helped her to grow in her own matauranga Māori journey, but has enabled her to be part of the transformation that is Mahi a Atua!  

Shelley Mitchell

Ko Hikurangi me Maungahaumia ōku Maunga
Ko Waiapu me Waipaoa ōku awa
Ko Putaanga me Mangatu ōku Marae
Ko Ngati Porou me Te Aitanga a Mahaki ōku Iwi
Ko Shelley ahau. 

This blaze genius is a very much a people person with strengths in leadership and connection. This gave Shell the edge to her role as a Matataki for Te Kūwatawata ki Turanga. Her pursuits for a B.A in psychology does not override the fact that this wahine just loves to get out there and make a difference for people, through people with fun and variety. 

Khadine Topia

Ōmarumutu rāua ko Taiao ōku Marae 
Ngati Ruatakena rāua ko Kainga Mataa ōku hapū
Te Whakatōhea rāua ko Te Aupouri ōku Iwi
Khadine Topia tōku ingoa 

Khadine was raised in the wild west of Auckland, Henderson/Massey/Ranui and has now settled in Pare Hauraki.  Khadine is a logistician and tempo by nature, capable of applying a practical logic to all aspects of my mahi, perusing accuracy, patience and integrity. Deliberate and conscious application of Whānau Ora and  Mahi a Atua principles into all areas of life. 

Driven to ensure re-wiring of mindsets where necessary. Tirelessly dedicated to a high standard of professionalism whilst being passionate about positive systemic change for all iwi Māori, returning us to mana motuhake through collectively developing processes and policies that address institutional racism and Māori equity at a corporate level. 

"I fell in love with the Mahi a Atua “way of being” and can distinctly see the immense benefits for whānau, hapū and iwi"

Hinemoa Jones

Whāia te iti kahurangi, ki te tūoho koe me he maunga teitei.

Hinemoa is of Māori (Te Arawa, Tainui) and Pākehā descent. She is a story teller, an educator of Māori language and a facilitator of the traditions of the whare tapere: i.e: Māori games, raranga, karetao (Māori puppetry). Hinemoa has worked alongside James Webster in the revival process of Karetao Māori and has performed in karetao performances both nationally and internationally.

Hinemoa is an active advocate and fluent speaker of te reo Māori. She has taught Māori language programs under the mantle of Te Wānanga o Aotearo and Te Whare Tāhuhu Kōrero o Hauraki as well as teaching night classes in Colville, north Coromandel.

Hinemoa has also worked as an art teacher and is passionate about delivering Māori kaupapa in exciting and innovative ways. She has facilitated and led workshops on a variety of Māori arts. Her goal is to help others connect with their taha Māori through relationship and experiences with taonga tuku iho.

Kirsten Brown

Ko Pukeamaru te maunga 
Ko Karakatuwhero te awa
Ko Horouta te waka
Ko Paerauta te marae
Ko Te Whanau a Te Aopare me Ngāi Tamakoro ngā hapū 
Ko Ngāti Porou te iwi 
Ko Kirsten Brown tōku ingoa 

Kirsten came into the Te Kurahuna Team whilst studying a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Commercial Law. Kirsten has grown with experience in her understanding of accounting practices. She is a straight talker who has an eye for detail. Kirsten displays poise and knowledge beyond her years. 

Kelly Burns

Ko Whetumatarau rāua ko Maungakaka ōku maunga
Ko Awatere rāua ko Waipapa ōku awa
Ko Hinerupe rāua ko Matahi O Te Tau ōku marae
Ko Te whanau a Hinerupe rāua ko te whanau a Tuwhakairiora ōku hapū
Ko Ngāti Porou tōku iwi
Ko Kelly ahau 

In 2010 Kelly qualified as a registered nurse in Gisborne and began her nursing career in Te Tairawhiti.  For 12 years she worked in the general surgical ward.  Whanau Māori has always been her passion and for those years as a nurse she strived to provide Māori with the best possible care.  However, none of that passion or mahi was changing health outcomes for Māori, the statistics remained terrible! 

Kelly left the job she thought she would have forever to undertake a new journey with Te Kurahuna, a kaupapa she had heard about and saw as a light at the end of the tunnel for her people.  Working within Te Kurahuna and utilising the principals of mahi a atua has given her the strength to reclaim her Maoritanga and renewed her hope for our people . 

Te Ara Hou Mihikotukutuku

Ko Te Ara Hou Rikihana Mihikotukutuku ahau

I was born in Porirua in 1989 and spent the first 7 years of my life in Otaki. Here I was a mokopuna of Turoa Kohanga Reo. Seeped in Te Reo Maori me nga tikanga Maori. Kohanga in those days was organic. We were always at the marae and out in the Tai Ao. Takaro, ruku me te kohi kai. And I still carry, maintain and value these pukenga to this day. He kakano ahau i ruia mai i Rangiatea.

Ko Tainui te waka
Ko Tararua te maunga
Ko Otaki te awa
Ko Katihiku me Raukawa nga marae
Ko Ngati Huia te hapu
Ko Ngati Toa Rangatira me Ngati Raukawa nga iwi
Ko Francis Manewha Shaw toku papa

At 7years old we moved to Porirua which was a very different world for me. Te Ao Maori felt like a single blade of grass that just managed to grow through a crack in the concrete and I had come from a bush. I adapted to the way of life in Porirua, but I always yearned for Te Ao Maori. And although I may have travelled other pathways, Te Ao Maori is at the core of my being.

2015 I embarked on a journey with Te Korowai Aroha o Aotearoa. It was in this space that I reclaimed and revived the fire that burn in me. I journeyed with the movement for six years. I attended many wananga. I’m a kaiwhakaruruhou and was part of the team that facilitated the Mahuri Totara movement in all four corners of Te Ika a Maui.

Today I am a get shit done mum. Raising three blossoming hine ariki.
Ko Nukutaememeha te waka
Ko Hikurangi te maunga
Ko Waiapu te awa
Ko Rauru Nui a Toi me Rahui nga marae
Ko Ngati Hinekehu me Te whanau a Rongomaianiwaniwa nga hapu
Ko Ngati Porou te iwi
Ko Karina May Little toku mama

Now we live in Gizzy. And I am happy to be a part of Te Kurahuna team. Mahi a Atua just feels right!

Peni Niwa

I te taha o toku Mama
Ko Pukehapopo to maunga
Ko Waiomoko te awa
Ko Whangara-mai-Tawhiti te marae
Ko Waho-te-Rangi raua ko Whitireia  ngā marae
Ko Wahakapi te hapū
Ko Ngāti Konohi te iwi

I te taha o toku Papa
Ko Taranaki te maunga
Ko Waitara te awa
Ko Kairau te marae 
Ko Hungaririki te whare
Ko Te Atiawa te iwi 

Hana Nepia

Ko Pirongia, Ko Taupiri, Ko Te Ramaroa o Kupe ngā Maunga
Ko Waipa, Ko Waikato, Ko Whirinaki ngā Awa
Ko Waikato Ko Ngaa Puhi ngā Iwi
Ko Ngāti Maahanga, Ko Ngāti Whaawhakia, Ko Te Hikutu ngā Hapū
Ko Te Kaharoa, Ko Te Kauri, Ko Pa Te Aroha ngā Marae
Ko Ngaruawahia tōku kainga noho. Kei Piripane i Te Whenua Moemoea tōku kainga

Kassidy Pupuo

Ko Aoraki , Whangatauaatia me Orowhana ngā Maunga
Ko Waitaki me Rangiheke ngā Awa
Ko Takitimu, Uruāo  me Ngātokimatawhāorua ngā Waka
Ko Kāitahu whānui me Ngā Puhi nui tonu ngā Iwi
Ko Kāi Te Ruahikihiki, Kāti Māmoe, Te Pahi me Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa ngā Hapū.

Kass was raised in Otepoti- Te Waipounamu. Educated within Te Aho Matua at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori ō Ōtepoti under the tutelage of Ngāi Tūhoe Tohunga Ringatū Pāpā Te Rangi Wilson, Koro Hatarei Temo and Whāea Luckie Herewini, Whāea Hinekura Lawson-Candaleria and the wider Hāpori.

Kass started Māori Studies at Te Whare Wānaka ō Otakou at the age of 16 and by 19 her journey led her into Tourism and Marketing. Kass is now residing in Brisbane, Australia and after working 6 years in the Sales and Marketing Industry found herself on Maternity leave with her 3rd pēpi reflecting on her passion for Te Ao Māori and how she could re-indigenise her space and way of living for her whānau. In June 2021 Kass became a part of the Te Kurahuna Team and fell in love with the Mahi a Atua way of being!

Lybian Moeke

Ko Hikurangi te maunga
Ko Waiapu te awa
Ko Ngāti Porou te Iwi
Ko Te Whanau a Hunaara te hapū
Ko Matahi O Te Tau te marae
Ko Harawiri Huriwai te tangata

The lead of our Therapeutic Wānanga, Our Amo Mataora Aunty Lybian Moeke

Aunty Lyb is a Māmā of 8 tamariki and many whāngai, a Nanny to 30 mokopuna and 5 mokopuna tuarua, and "Aunty" to ALL in any space she occupies!

Aunty Lyb lives and breathes for her whānau 
"They are who hold me and keep my eternal flame burning bright."

Rikki Solomon

Rikki Solomon is from the tribes of Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Kahu ki Whangaroa. With over 20 years' experience working in the funeral industry as an embalmer and funeral director, Rikki has recently opened his own business.

Rikki holds a National Certificate in Embalming and He Waka Hiringa: Masters Degree in Applied Indigenous Knowledge from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. He is currently working on his Doctorate of Indigenous Development and Advancement at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. His focus is on Nga Kitenga o te Maramataka: Insights into the Maramamataka (Māori Moon Calendar) and its relation to Whakamomori (Suicide).

Pani Hokianga

Ko Takitimu te waka
Ko Ngāti Pāhauwera te iwi
Ko Tawhirirangi te maunga
Ko Mohaka te awa
Ko Mohaka te pā
Ko Pani Hokianga ahau

Pani was raised in Levin and now resides in Brisbane, Australia. With more than 20 years experience working in I.T. alongside 10 years working as a Mental Health and Disability Co-ordinator Pani's journey has led him to Mahi a Atua, Te Kurahuna.

"Being born and raised as an active practitioner of Mirimiri, Romiromi and Komiri, I love the all facets of Te Ao Māori and felt a natural draw to Mahi a Atua philosophies and practices. I feel AIO to be part of this team"

Setting up Te Kuwatawata in your Community

First Step!

Tēnei te Po, Nau Mai te Ao

So you have decided that your number one priority is to address Māori inequity. Te Kurahuna, using the Mahi a Atua framework, can work with you to improve the quality of your organisation.

Being informed of the evidence is the first step to improve services. We all struggle to keep up with all of the information available to us, be it articles, evidence reviews, blogs, tweets or messages. The easiest way to keep up with best practice in your area of interest is to use a source you can trust. Our guidance is that source. 

Second Step!

Ka mā te Ariki Ka mā te Tauira

Anyone can take a lead. To lead is to take action and show others that change is possible. The best place to start when making change is to consider how you can change your own way of working. Take the initiative and then share what you find out with your colleagues. 

Use our guidance to get conversations started. Having this guidance gives you authority when explaining the changes you want others to make.

In some organisations you might be part of a team responsible for putting guidance into practice or improving quality. Or you might be working across many organisations and sectors and have the opportunity to connect people and share the knowledge you have gained from our guidance. If you have the vision and can clearly communicate it, you can make a difference.

Third Step!

Hongihongi te Wheiwheiā

Before you start planning changes to services or implementing new guidance, you need to understand how the service works at the moment. This is your baseline and can be used to measure the effect of any changes you make.

You might do this as part of a team or you can start by looking at your own area of responsibility or experience.

You can find out about how the service works in lots of different ways. Informal discussions, online questionnaires, wānanga or a review of local policies and procedures could help. Remember to look outside of your organisation and see how your service fits into the wider community.

One of our whānau was moved by her Mahi a Atua experience and wrote this kōrero tairitenga:

Innate shapeshifting
Mai Hawaaiki, from hawaaiki we unfurl
Ki Hawaaiki, to all the way back there again
And again
And again
So I’m out here driving my ancestral superhighway
Without a driver’s license
Helm of my own waka
Beneath the stars
Beacons of cultural navigation that traverse ions of time
But I’m not yet confident to read
Or maybe it’s trust
Or maybe a type of spiritual dyslexia
That I feel connection
As sure as my pulse
I am my ancestors
Mahi a Atua is a refuge
A space to make sense of the murkiness
A place where we shapeshift between rehutaitanga and hukuataitanga
And then harness the confidence to take it out for a spin.

By Dayle Takitimu 14.06.2017

Important questions...

  • Exactly what happens now?
  • Where does it happen?
  • What resources are being used?
  • How much does it cost?
  • What do people say about their experience?
  • What impact does it have on them?
  • What outcomes are you measuring?
  • Are these outcomes important to whānau or people using services? 

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