New Zealand's ageing population and health inequities for Māori (Indigenous peoples) have prompted calls for innovative, culturally based approaches to improving health and wellbeing, and managing transitions in later life. This is particularly important for kaumātua (Māori elders) who, despite cultural strength and resilience, carry a significant burden in health, economic and social inequities. This paper describes the culture-centred development of a ‘tuakana‒teina’ (elder sibling‒younger sibling) peer support education programme designed to help kaumātua support other kaumātua experiencing transitions in later life. Taking a strengths-based approach that highlights ‘kaumātua mana motuhake’ (elder independence and autonomy), the study used kaupapa Māori (Māori approach, knowledge, skills, attitudes and values) and community-based participatory research methodology, to develop and pilot a culture-centred tuakana‒teina/peer education programme. Methods included establishing two advisory groups (one of kaumātua and one of sector experts); holding five focus groups with kaumātua; and running a pilot programme with 21 kaumātua. The findings demonstrate the value in a strengths-based approach that centralises Māori culture and kaumātua potential, capacity and ability, and recognises the continuing value and contribution of kaumātua to society. The study helps shift the focus from dominant stereotypes of ageing populations as a burden on society and shows the value of kaumātua supporting others during transitions in later life.