Standing outside Whareroa marae, more than 200 people from the far reaches of the world came together for what is believed to be the first migrant pōwhiri in the country.
The event today was organised by Ngāi Te Rangi iwi.Before walking into the marae, guests were told the pōwhiri was "more than a welcome".
"We don't want you to be a pot plant and be here, but not really here."
The event was about breaking the pot and letting everyone's roots into the ground.
Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon was present as chief guest and said the migrant pōwhiri today was "groundbreaking" and he wanted to see it more often.
"This goes a long way in creating harmonious communities and eliminating racism."
He said the event should be held "reasonably often".
"We're working with Immigration New Zealand to actually help make this a permanent thing because it does need resources from the people coming to this country to facilitate the pōwhiri."
He said 60 per cent of people in the Bay of Plenty weren't born here, and 35 per cent are ethnic people with over 300 nationalities and dialects.
"The more we get to see each other, it will take away that arrogance and hopefully eliminate racism in Aotearoa."
Foon said the leadership of Whareroa and Ngāi Te Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley was exemplary.
Kajal Mukherjee moved over from East India 26 years ago and said it was "extremely important" for migrants to be accepted by locals, and the welcome did just that.
He said newcomers needed to assimilate to their new society, and the relationship needed to be reciprocal.
James Muir has been mates with Mukherjee since he moved here, and although he was Kiwi, he felt it was important to be there for support.
"We're not so quick to welcome people," he said of Kiwis in a general sense.
He said people from other countries added value to communities, which he has seen over the years.
Nina Payne moved to New Zealand in the 70s from her life in the Philippines where she was an accountant with a law degree.
She is the founder of Multicultural Tauranga and said there was nothing for migrants when she first arrived, so it was special to see how far things have come.
"The pōwhiri is welcoming migrants ... we choose the Bay of Plenty to settle and our life if here," she said.
"Migrants are so important, they enhance the social fabric and play an important role in the economy."
She said the pōwhiri was acknowledging that migrants were welcomed as "part of the land" and acknowledged migrants' position to give back to society.
In his Igorot - traditional clothing worn on special gatherings in the northern Philippines - Jake Biray joined more than 200 others at the marae.
He moved to New Zealand five years ago and described it as a privilege to be at the pōwhiri, having his culture officially welcomed into the Bay of Plenty.
Fungai Mhlanga moved to New Zealand from Zimbabwe in 2006 for work and said it took a long time to feel fully part of a community, but the pōwhiri would help.
"It breaks down the barriers of social isolation," he said, which he experienced when he first moved to New Zealand.
The pōwhiri was "amazing" as it brought the migrant community together and helped gain a deeper understanding of Tangata Whenua.
"We learn more; how we're similar, how we're different, and how we can co-exist."
Multicultural Tauranga president Premila D'Mello said seeing everyone come together was "emotional and very significant".
"It warms my heart tremendously."