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About Mahana


Mahana is dedicated to fostering humanity through sharing our diversity and worldviews and embedding cultural intelligence. As we move towards an increasingly diverse world, the need to put a ‘diversity lens’ onto our personal and professional lives has never been greater.

Mahana was born with the vision of creating a people intelligent society through which our diversity and worldviews become a universal language. Our purpose is to awaken dignity in organisations and communities throughout Australia.

Tavale Ilalio

Tavale is of proud Samoan, Scottish, Irish, and Kiwi heritage. He tells his cultural tale from Samoa to New Zealand to California to Melbourne, Australia. With a Bachelor of Social Practice, Tavale has worked in the social service sector for over 20 years, occupying positions from frontline through to senior management. Throughout his journey, the effects of culture - previously unrecognised, neglected, or minimised - have become the linchpin in the work and roles he performs.

Tavale believes culture underpins everything we do; that societies which embrace, celebrate, and reignite cultural dignity, prosper and thrive. From this vision Mahana Culture was born.

Seona Palmer

Seona's cultural tale spans from Italy to England to Ballarat, to take root in Melbourne.

Having spent most of her career in state and local government, Seona developed a heightened perspective on the advantages of diversity and how cultural intelligence could provide professionals confidence in working across any diversity both personally and professionally.

Balancing a career, parenting, and studying, Seona is half of the team behind the birth of Mahana Culture. Currently completing a psychology Masters degree, Seona is particularly interested in our own personal lens on our diversity and how that shapes our world views.

Sikivi Tafea

Sikivi is a proud Samoan – he was born in Christchurch, New Zealand and spent his formative years there before moving to Melbourne. Sikivi developed a strong passion for performing arts and creativity from an early age, and has infused this passion into his work as a musician, playwright and director. 

Through his work as a trainer, educator and communicator, Sikivi has developed a passion for people and their stories, and strongly believes that cultural intelligence is key to maintaining and growing these relationships and building community. 

Sikivi is at his happiest watching rugby over greasy fish ’n chips. Go the All Blacks!

Dusk Liney

Dusk is a Dutch Kiwi who has lived her whole life on Wurundjeri land. Dusk comes from a lineage of women who lived their lives with resilience, joy and love.

Dusk has worked in the not-for-profit and community sector for the last 15 years in social justice, international development, community participation, education and advocacy.

Dusk is passionate about creating spaces for people to be heard – to encounter their story, value and worth. Dusk is Mahana Culture’s social media storyteller and part of the training team.


Jacqui Harris

Jacqui Harris is the Financial Officer for Mahana Culture. She was born in country NSW and grew up on a Vineyard. Her mother’s family migrated from Italy and her father is a 5th generation Australian, originating from England.

Jacqui is a mum to 3 beautiful boys, and they spend their time going between the beach and their local Rugby League Club. Jacqui is passionate about Indigenous culture, community sports, and music.

She is excited to be a part of the Mahana Culture Team and watching it grow to enable people within the community to have the opportunity to become culturally intelligent.

Gregg Morris  

A Native American proverb says that ‘we each drag a cultural tale 1000 years long.’

If that’s the case, Gregg drags two tales behind him: one extends back to the Scottish province of Falkirk; the other, to the Samoan village of Tauese. Gregg’s personal tale began in Aotearoa/New Zealand, where he experienced both the richness and the struggle of being born into a culturally blended family.

As a CQ researcher and a practitioner with a passion for cultural justice, Gregg brings a scientific lens and CQ credibility to the Mahana Culture team.


Jo Capicchiano 

Jo was born and raised in Australia by her Scottish parents, who migrated to Australia as secondary teachers in 1970, and were then joined by their entire family some 10 years later.

With a strong family focus on the important role of teaching and education, it seemed almost inevitable that this was a path that Jo would also take. She has been a primary school teacher for over 13 years, as well as an entrepreneur who teaches women worldwide how to get more organised in their lives.

Jo balances her time between parenting her 2 young children, teaching, and being part of the ‘engine room’ that keeps Mahana’s systems and processes running.


Sandy McDonald  

Sandy McDonald was born in Zimbabwe, but has spent more than half her life in Australia.

She is first a wife, mother and grandmother, but also an author, TEDx speaker, presentation trainer and communications coach.

For the last ten years, she has worked with organisations, government, business owners and individuals to bring clarity, purpose and the power of their stories into their communication on and offline.

With this depth of experience and knowledge, Sandy brings the journey and richness of storytelling in a cultural context to the Mahana Culture team.

Roger McDonald  

Roger McDonald started his professional career as a journalist in southern Africa in the late 1970s. He’s been a writer ever since.

With Sandy, he has run their marketing and communications businesses for more than 30 years. He helped establish their charity for disadvantaged children, CreateCare Global.

As a writer and poet, he revels in language. His work has been published in a wide range of magazines, newspapers, and journals in Australia, Africa, and the United Kingdom.

Roger works with the Mahana Culture team to produce and update course and web content, and to bring our cultural stories to life.


Cassie Silke

Born and raised in Melbourne, Cassie has a cultural tale that can easily be identified by a few famous dishes regularly made in her childhood home - Taro, Irish stew, Trifle and Pavlova. You guessed it, Cassie has a heritage from Samoa, Ireland and England. 

Cassie is the Education coordinator for Mahana Culture. Her background is in teaching, youth work and student support. She is currently working with the Frankston community in a program called Cultural Connections.

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