Jessie-May Hammond joined Juniper’s Home and Community Care team as Business Support Officer in September, 2022.

During Harmony Week, Jessie-May opens up about her culture and talks about the importance of celebrating cultural diversity and creating a sense of belonging in the workplace.

As a proud Maori woman, Harmony Week carries a lot of significance for Jessie-May Hammond.

Not only does it provide an opportunity to share and celebrate Maori culture with her colleagues, but it also highlights the importance of belonging and feeling accepted.

“Belonging to me means acceptance for who I am no matter my background, culture, beliefs or upbringing,” Jessie-May said.

“It’s important for me to share my culture with friends and colleagues as I’m proud of my heritage and where I came from.”

Since joining Juniper, Jessie-May has felt comfortable sharing her culture with colleagues.

“In my first week at Juniper, a colleague commented on my Pounamu (greenstone), which is commonly found in New Zealand, and I was able to share my heritage with her and talk about my culture,” Jessie-May said.

“It felt good that someone I’d just met wanted to hear about it.”

Jessie-May said family connection was deeply valued in Maori culture.

“I grew up around my extended family and formed strong relationships that are still there today,” she said.

“Some of my cousins are my best friends and our kids are close and are growing up together like we did when we were younger.

“Our families regularly get together and celebrate each other. We build each other up and celebrate achievements no matter how small they seem to others.”

With more than 75 per cent of Juniper employees born overseas, Jessie-May said she was proud to be working for an organisation that is culturally diverse.

“I think it’s important for Juniper to celebrate cultural diversity to demonstrate our inclusivity,” she said.

“We service such a wide range of clients from different cultural backgrounds it only makes sense to have a diverse workforce that is celebrated.”

When asked what traditional dish she’d share with her colleagues for Harmony Week, Jessie-May said ‘Hangi’ – where food is cooked using hot rocks buried in a pit oven – came to mind.

“When you experience everything that goes into gathering the food, preparing the food, lowering the baskets into the ground then pulling the baskets up and everyone coming together to eat, it fills your soul with joy,” she said.

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