Asian immigrants aren't made to feel welcome in New Zealand and to alleviate that, the tangata whenua should stage a mass powhiri, Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples believes.

To mark Race Relations Day, Dr Sharples will deliver a speech tomorrow at the Orakei Marae on the state of race relations.

Dr Sharples said he was unsure of what the mass powhiri would look like, except that it could include up to 1000 warriors.

He told the Weekend Herald that when he was Race Relations Conciliator in the 1970s, Indian, Chinese and Korean community leaders often approached him to talk about the difficulties their communities faced.

They told him immigrants from Western "white" countries such as South Africa, Canada and England tended to be immediately treated like New Zealanders.

But Asians were treated "unevenly", and the major pointer to this was the difficulty that qualified immigrants had in finding relevant jobs.

New Zealanders tended to be arrogant about including others who were different, Dr Sharples said.

"We haven't prepared Kiwis for the influx of Asians, neither have we prepared Asians for what they'll find here.

"You'll find it in all countries, it's part of the arrogance aspect of mainstream culture that consider that this place is theirs."

He had spoken to two iwi leaders, who thought welcoming Asians in a formal and physical way would be "fantastic" because benefits would flow to both groups.

"I think it would highlight the issue that we take it for granted: that they're add-ons instead of part of our community.

"Our [Maori] culture is inclusive and we're having a damn hard time getting that across. People still think we're going to shove them off the beach."

Dr Sharples said a powhiri could be the first step to including a Maori and humanising influence on immigration policies, which could be nightmarish to navigate.