A widely-believed misconception in New Zealand is that, outside Auckland, there's not much diversity or multiculturalism. You just have to look at the year-round happenings of the affiliated organisations of Multicultural New Zealand (MNZ), of which there are many, to see that it is not true. There are 23 regional multicultural councils, and 35 regional New Zealand newcomers network, under the umbrella of MNZ, which celebrate Aotearoa's diversity 24/7, 365 days. In our inaugural issue, we give our readers a brief overview of what some of these organisations have been doing over the past one year, in their journey towards an inclusive, diverse and multicultural Aotearoa.
(content courtesy MNZ, and its affiliated organisations)
To be published every alternate Wednesday, this newspaper aims to be your definitive guide to all things ethnic and multicultural in New Zealand.
At last count, Aotearoa had 213 ethnic groups calling it home. Unfortunately though, inspite of all the good intentions of average Kiwis, and efforts put in by government, ethnic communities in New Zealand still feel "alienated", "left out", or "voiceless". What aids such a feeling - and this is a general consensus - is that the ethnic issues, news, views, struggles, successes, or celebrations, don't find adequate representation in the country's public discourse.
Multicultural Times is an effort to change this prevailing state of affairs with the ultimate goal of creating social cohesion across New Zealand.
The immigration system of New Zealand, with all its rules and regulations, needs to be fair and consistent. Right now, it is too much dependent on the officials, who use their discretion while applying these norms. This was the most common complaint that Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway faced on July 18, when he fronted up to a Q and A session with ethnic communities in Christchurch. The occasion was the launch of Multicultural Labour Canterbury (MLC), which was also attended by the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods, and Labour MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan.
The OIA and LGOIMA are laws in New Zealand that allow people to ask for official information held by Ministers and central and local government agencies (agencies). These laws set out how agencies should handle requests for information and give a right to anyone not happy with the result to complain to the Ombudsman.
The OIA applies to information requests made to Ministers and central government agencies.
The LGOIMA applies to local government information requests, and also sets out rights of access by the public to local government meetings.
English Language Partners teach English, but with a difference. We teach English needed for settlement. In other words, we provide the language so people can participate in any way they wish in life in Aotearoa. It’s learning English, and so much more. Our origins with the home tutoring programme are belied by our former name - ESOL Home Tutors. As we explain during the volunteer training, our home tutors become a gateway to New Zealand and can often be the only point of contact a learner might have outside of their own community.
Organised by three community organisations, the Eid Carnival held in Christchurch on June 16, at the Lincoln Events Centre, was a huge success. The evening event, which culminated with the end of Ramadan, was made possible by the tireless efforts of volunteers and office bearers of the Canterbury Muslim Community Trust (CMCT), Muslim Association of Canterbury (MAC), and National Islamic Sister Assembly (NISA). Earlier in the day, Salat Idul Fitr (Eid prayers) were held at the Pioneer Stadium led by Imam Gamal of Masjid Al Noor of Christchurch, with takbeer starting at 7.30am, followed by salah.
Coming to New Zealand as a migrant is a very exciting new challenge, but also a very brave move as you step into a new country with its own unique culture. You bring with you your own cultural nuances, values and language. The norms you have known all of your life need adjustment to assimilate into your new homeland, so change is inevitable, otherwise why have you come to this country?
Just because you have stepped into New Zealand, you are entering a new education college without exams. Unfortunately, until recently insufficient assistance has been available for migrants to understand the changes you need to make so that you can feel at home and welcomed.
The Christchurch Multicultural Strategy, launched last year, is a commitment by the Council to provide a framework and a set of goals and actions to ensure every single person in Christchurch feels a sense of belonging. It will also give everyone in Christchurch an equal opportunity to access the Council's services, information, as well as participating in the decision-making process. This Strategy acknowledges Ngāi Tahu are mana whenua — the indigenous people of our area in Christchurch, and that Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the foundation document of New Zealand.
Dedicated to supporting the settlement of migrants, refugees and returning kiwis into the region, Auckland Regional Migrant Services Trust’s (ARMS) initiatives and services are developed with connecting communities, promoting inclusion and community harmony in mind. Since 2003, the Trust’s team of staff, volunteers and community partners have provided specialist settlement, orientation, training and employment services for over 30,000 clients.
Supported with funding from NZ On AIR and owned by the Canterbury Communications Trust not-for-profit access radio station, Plains FM, has provided the means for a huge variety of community groups, organisations, educational institutions and individuals to have a voice in the media since 1988.
Plains FM is one of 12 such “access” radio stations across New Zealand from Auckland to Southland. Content for broadcast and online delivery is made by advocates, activists, organisations, newcomers, children, elders, music fans, people with disabilities, youth, health practitioners, international students, refugees, experts and enthusiasts. Airtime charges are kept low so any barriers to involvement are minimal. Plains FM currently has 91 locally made programmes produced by 200 broadcasters in 16 different languages. It also re-broadcasts 19 programmes from sister access radio stations from around NZ utilising a platform called AIR (Access Internet Radio) which has just clocked up 1 million online hits in 12 months.
Isolation and a lack of English are among the issues facing people of migrant and refugee background in Canterbury, according to qualitative research from the All Right? campaign. The research consisted of six two-hour long discussion groups and in-depth interviews with people from refugee and migrant communities in Christchurch. Participants came from a range of countries including Somalia, Sudan, Korea, China and Bhutan.
As diversity consultants, we get the opportunity to work with a range of private and public sector organisations, many of whom are at different stages of evolution when it comes to D&I practice. For the last couple of months, we have been fortunate enough to work alongside the Department of Conservation (DOC) to deliver Unconscious Bias Awareness Training.
"The Ministry for Pacific Peoples works closely with Pacific communities to maintain and promote heritage languages. Part of this work is the Ministry’s support for Pacific Language Weeks, which have grown significantly since Samoan Language Week was first celebrated in 2007.”
America Rex is a story about power, politics and personalities colliding in an epic drama that calls for a return to indigenous ways of knowing and belonging. Led by a diverse cast of New Zealand talent this is multi-disciplinary collaborative production that invites the audience to imagine a different present - or relinquish ourselves to an inevitable future.
With more migrants arriving every year, how is New Zealand embracing diversity and integrating with migrants to make this country truly multicultural and inclusive? There is no data and insights about migrants once they arrive into New Zealand. For example, we do not know the challenges that they face, they support they need, or how they integrate with the society. From a corporate side, there is limited data to understand how migrants consider and purchase products and services, drivers for satisfaction or defection, and the holy grail customer loyalty.
It’s one of the reasons why Cultural Connections was started as a social enterprise to illuminate some insights into migrants which makes up 25% of population.