Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Ports of Auckland: New Pasifika Role integrated to support Pasifika

Port of Auckland. Photo: Facebook
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Grace Fiavaai | Reporter

Following a three-year period of unfortunate events, Ports of Auckland has decided to create a new position aimed at providing better support to its Pasifika staff. 

After operating for 175 years, the company has reached a significant milestone, aiming to provide better opportunities for the 30% of its workforce who are Pasifika.

The move is an important step towards ensuring a safer and more inclusive workplace for all employees.

Pasifika outcomes manager Vanessa Wolfgramm will be responsible for developing career pathways and leadership progression for the port’s Pasifika staff. 

Wolfgramm, who’s been at the port for five years, says her focus will be on how to best serve Pasifika staff. 

Vanessa Wolfgramm & Paul White. Photo: Facebook

“We had representation from all the business areas and different roles from lashers, straddle drivers and crane operators to corporate and operations. 

“It was a fantastic launchpad for what is going to be a really exciting time.”

Wolfgramm’s been actively involved with the port’s te ao Māori journey participating in the kapa haka group, the port’s Māori leadership group, taking part in whakatau for new staff and is enrolled in the port’s on-site te reo Māori lessons.

“The foundation work done by the Māori leadership group and Māori strategy framework have paved the way for this role,” says Wolfgramm.

Ports of Auckland has been active in celebrating diversity, they held their first-ever Pasifika Day for staff last year.

Ports of Auckland celebrated Pasifika day earlier this year. Photo: Facebook


And Wolfgramm’s family’s connection to the port runs much deeper than the Pasifika Day celebration.  

Wolfgramm’s daughter Charissa is an executive assistant and joined the port four years ago

Her son, and Charissa’s brother, Darius, has been a straddle driver at the port for three years while Charissa’s husband Michael Maupese also works at the port as a leading-hand linesman and deckhand in the Marine Department. 

“There is a real sense of diversity throughout the port and you get to work alongside people from all walks of life,” says Michael.  

Port of Auckland. Photo: Facebook

This is Darius’ first job out of school and has allowed him to grow and learn. 

“I feel lucky that I landed in a place where I have learnt from people with different life experiences, and have made many lifelong friends,” Darius says.

While the port helps to facilitate the criss-crossing of goods across the North Island, do the Wolfgramms ever cross paths at work?  

“We don’t bump into each other much during the day but when we do, it’s usually to figure out who is shouting lunch,” says Charissa.  


Paul White Maori outcomes manager, who joined the port 23 years ago, says he has seen a remarkable turnaround in port culture over the past two years. 

“Vanessa’s new position is a “major milestone”, he says.

“A few years ago it would have been hard to imagine what we have now. 

The port has embarked on a cultural journey which has benefited our staff’s wellbeing,” he says. 

Ports of Auckland celebrated Pasifika day earlier this year. Photo: Facebook

“We are living in a different world.”

Vanessa and Paul will work closely and support one another in improving career progressions for Pasifika and Māori port workers.

“What Māori and Tagata Pasifika culture have in common is we all manaaki and taukoto each other in our mahi and what we are striving for,” says Paul.

“It is like a marae and it’s important Māori and Pasifika outcomes work together and advance the kaupapa for each. That’s our strength.”

Preparations for the Port of Auckland’s second annual Pasifika Day celebrations are well underway.

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