It was an amazing evening, and the hall was jam packed. There was standing room only. While we were expecting 250, almost 550 people came. Most of the former refugees settled in the city came. There were 12 cultural times followed by a multicultural fashion show. This included performance by a sufi group in the city, Indian, Irish and Chinese dancing, Japanese drumming, and a kapa haka. Special guests at the event included National MP Michael Woodhouse, Human Rights Commission race relations adviser Rakesh Naidoo, and Dunedin Imam Shaykh Asrarul Haque Obaidullah.
The New Zealand India Trade Alliance (NZITA) has launched a South Island chapter to create a gateway for companies in the South to connect with the huge opportunities emerging in the Indian market. The event called Unlocking the Potential of India, was held in Christchurch and was attended by over 60 representatives from companies looking to expand business opportunities in the Indian market. The local chapter will be led by Michael Henstock.
A report released on August 26, which was commissioned by E tū, and was funded by the Industrial Relations Fund, has revealed the experiences of mostly Filipino construction workers in Christchurch and Auckland in 2017 and 2018. A small number of employers from around New Zealand was also interviewed. Along with low pay, and poor housing emerging as critical issues, the report, by researcher and lawyer, Catriona MacLennan, also reveals wide-spread exploitation of migrants by immigration companies and so-called pastoral care companies.
This years Vietnam Veterans Day was held on Saturday, August 18, in the Papanui RSA club with about fifty members and guests attended. The ceremony started with the parade of Vietnam veterans. The Piper played while representatives of various sections of NZ troops laid the wreaths. This was followed by other participants laying poppies. The bugler played “The Last Post”. I gave a speech, presenting the view of a Vietnamese who had lived through Vietnam war.
A new online resource - Workplace Policy Builder - will enable small businesses to create health and wellbeing policies quickly and easily, through the www.business.govt.nz website. It is part of a suite of free online tools from business.govt.nz that help making running a small business easier for business owners and managers.
“Small businesses who lack in-house expertise can avoid the hassle of drawing up a policy from scratch by using this new online tool. It offers them the assurance that their policies will comply with current law. The online Workplace Policy Builder makes it easy for small businesses to tailor policies to the individual circumstances of their workplaces," noted Small Business Minister Stuart Nash.
A man who liquidated his company after being penalised nearly $430,000 for exploiting workers, has been made personally liable for the nearly $120,000 that’s still outstanding. The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ‘joined’ Jujhar Singh to his previous company Binde Enterprises Ltd, following a Labour Inspectorate investigation which uncovered nearly $210,000 in wages owed to 75 migrants working on a vegetable farm in the Bombay Hills.
“This sends a clear message to employers that if minimum employment standards are breached and workers are exploited, closing down the business will not get its owners or directors off the hook,” noted Kevin Finnegan, Labour Inspector Horticulture lead. Singh has three months to pay the full outstanding amount.
Kiwi-Pakistanis all across the country came together last week to celebrate the country’s Independence Day, which falls on August 14, every year.
The celebrations kicked off in Auckland on August 19, with the Pakistan Association of New Zealand (PANZ), organising a day-long event at the King’s College in Otahuhu. There were cultural stalls showcasing Pakistani culture, and few cultural performances including the bhangra.
Ali Ather, President of PANZ, informed, “Almost 2,000 people from across the wider community attended our event, which is our biggest annual celebration. Among the dignitaries present at the event, notables were MPs Deborah Russell, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, and Michael Wood. Our chief guest was Syed Moazzam Hussain Shah, Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan to New Zealand.”
The Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa has once again thrown light on the need for diversity in New Zealand’s public sector boards. She was speaking at the launch event of this newspaper held at Auckland University of Technology on August 9.
“Not only do we need diversity in journalism, as this newspaper is aiming for, we also need ethnic communities to come forward and join our public sector boards. The current level of participation is much below the desired levels,” said the minister.
The Mayor made this observation at the formal launch event of fifth India NZ Business Council (INZBC) Summit, which will be held on September 28, in Auckland, and will focus on aviation, tourism and technology. Addressing the gathering in the capital on August 7, the mayor while commenting on the need for Wellington to increase international linkage, noted, “ Singapore Airlines has done this through a link to Wellington via Melbourne but more would be better. We would like more tourists and businesses coming to Wellington, as the city provides advantages of cheaper housing, the highest educated work force, and is home to some great companies such as Xero.”
The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) has enlisted the support and advice of Auckland Emergency Management as it develops a new national public education strategy for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities, which is due to be released early next year. The ministry is also providing funding support to a joint project by the Christchurch City Council and Plains FM 96.9 – a community access radio station based there - to develop foreign language emergency messaging for radio. It has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Deaf Aotearoa as part of its ongoing drive to improve the accessibility of emergency information.
India is known for its unity in diversity. A mini-Europe, sort of, with hundreds of languages spoken, every prominent religion practised, and cuisine and culture differing from region to region. That’s why when Indians move abroad, even while forming pan-Indian identity denoting associations, region-specific organisations are also very common. Like in Auckland, while there’s a New Zealand Indian Central Association, but there’s a Tamil Association as well.
Last week, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway announced major changes to post-study work rights, which he claimed will help ensure international students coming to New Zealand gain in-demand skills for the country’s economic growth, incentivise study in the regions and help reduce the risk of student exploitation; The New Zealand Education Strategy 2018-2030 was launched at the New Zealand International Education Conference on August 9. It sets out three goals and the key actions needed for agencies to achieve them, as well as measures and indicators of success; University of Canterbury (UC) student numbers have received a further boost this year with a 22% increase in mid-year enrolments compared to last year.
While no one knows the authenticity of claims that Chinese buyers are driving up the Auckland housing prices, Chinese builders and financiers are contributing massively to KiwiBuild projects, that’s for sure. This assertion was made by Labour MP Raymond Ho on the sidelines of his office opening in Maungakiekie on August 9.
In an event where Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities and MP for Mt Roskill, Michael Wood, seems like “the token white guy” - his own words – New Zealand’s diversity would be amply demonstrated. Such was the case on August 10, at the opening of Labour Party’s new office in Maungakiekie, where three of the Party’s MPs - Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki, and Raymond Ho, will now be based. “And the great thing is, all three of us are migrants, who immigrated to New Zealand at respective times in our lives. We are here, like all migrants, to make New Zealand better,” said Kanongata'a-Suisuiki, who hails from Hofoa in Tonga, in her speech.
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.