He aha te mea nui o te ao? Māku e kī atu, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

What is the most important thing in the world? I will tell you, it is people, it is people, it is people.

It's a well-known whakataukī (proverb) in Māoridom and often mentioned during speech-making in relation to our compassion for humankind.

It's clear the whakataukī is about the value and respect we place on people, particularly manuhiri (visitors) to our marae where the hau kāinga (local people) makes an extra effort to show manaakitanga (hospitality) towards them.

The notion is when manuhiri return to their homelands, they will regale others with stories of the wonderful hospitality they received. Manaakitanga serves an important function of enhancing the mana (prestige) of a whānau, hapū, or iwi. No-one covets the title of being a poor host.

Manaakitanga, or hospitality, is one of those universal Māori values which many Kiwis might claim is part of New Zealand culture. Kiwis are known to be friendly, relaxed, and helpful to all people.

It's a value for me personally that has been influenced by my whānau upbringing and why my iwi does the things that make them the people they are of Te Awa Tupua, the Whanganui River.

But what if we're manuhiri on a strange marae? A tourist in a different place? Or we're thinking of migrating to another country?

How much of our own culture and values do we practice in our new surroundings, while at the same time adopting new customs, sometimes a new language, and a set of culturally different values?

The New Zealand First party is looking into a law that would make immigrants accountable to a set of core 'Kiwi values' through the Respecting New Zealand Values Bill.

The party has determined those values include gender equality, legal sexual preferences, freedom of religion, and a commitment not to campaign against alcohol consumption.

But it makes me wonder, how were those values determined? It seems NZ First has applied its own filter - some may say its own unconscious, conservative bias - on the so-called New Zealand values.

Its leader Winston Peters would probably say it's 'common sense', but for someone like me who looks at the world through a Māori lens, I ask myself, whose values are NZ First trying to force upon immigrants?

It's similar to what happened to Māori when they were colonised and is largely why so many Māori, particularly those in urban centres, have lost their culture, their language, and knowledge of their whakapapa.

However, moving on from the Māori colonisation experience, Mr Peters said there have been numerous cases where new people to this country have not respected New Zealand values.

He said that it would help discourage the exploitation of migrants, like the Asian students who slave it out hours on end in restaurants for pay that’s well below the minimum wage.

The author of the bill, NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell, went on further to say that if immigrants were found to be in breach of his Bill an independent panel may assess the case or it may go through the courts.

Alarm bells go off and I immediately think to myself, how does NZ First propose to police this proposed law? By using the 'NZ Values Police' to arrest people similar to the Islamic religious police in Saudi Arabia?

Sure, I believe that new people to this country who want to make Aotearoa home should, like all of us, obey the laws of the land and feel like they can participate in New Zealand culture while retaining their own identity.

Both Treaty partners Māori and Pākehā, as well as immigrants, all need to be included in the conversation about how we define what New Zealand's values are if we are to be a diverse and inclusive society.

It’s all about manaakitanga – nobody wants to be known as a poor host.

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