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A snapshot of New Zealand's diversity...

A snapshot of New Zealand's diversity...

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)


Nelson Multicultural Council 

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  • Our involvement with the Nelson Tasman Settlement Forum, guided the developing of the project and programme ideas for the wider community. These included Race Unity Day, with Nelson City Council (Nelson Regional Development Agency) and community groups; Tasman Asian Night Food Fair, with Tasman District Council and local organizations; and Colour Craze, with Tasman Youth Council. 
  • A Women’s Hui, was also organized in the past year in partnership with the Nelson Angel Women Loan Fund. 
  • The Nelson Tasman Advisory Group, got local agencies and organizations together to collaborate with our research - Meeting the needs and challenges of migrants and former refugees in the Nelson Tasman region, which was developed in partnership with the Centre for Applied Cross Cultural Research of Victoria University. It was successfully completed, which has given us a roadmap of what will be our strategy for the next five years. We will make this research publicly accessible via internet very soon. 
  • We also engaged experienced professionals who delivered very successful inter-cultural awareness workshops. 
  • We have continued developing our interpreters list as well. 

Multicultural Council of Rangitikei/ Whanganui

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  • This year we visited the local Koriniti Marae. The theme was “Cultural Awareness” and we had some very good speakers. The importance of Whanganui River was also a part of the discussion. We have got a very strong link with our local Iwi where there are no barriers when it comes to discussion and open forums. 
  • Our last year's annual Diwali event also went very well. More and more people are showing keen interest in participating in this programme every year. 
  • Our volunteers work tirelessly with newcomers providing support such as teaching English and kiwiana culture, CV preparation, interview techniques and other support that is required to settle in. A few cases of family violence and counselling has had fruitful results, without involving authorities and draining public funds. This is something we are keen to ‘nip in the bud’ as too much is at stake, especially if children are involved.

Aoraki Multicultural Council

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  • The Aoraki Migrant Centre started 4 years ago with an empty office at Community House and has grown over the years into a hub for migrants and newcomers in South Canterbury.
  • We are part of Timaru Safer Communities Committee, Healthy Living South Canterbury, South Canterbury Neighbourhood support, Family Violence Forum, Project Turnaround, Te Rito and the National Council of Women. We recently joined the Public Transport Advisory Group to ensure that the needs for migrants living and working in rural areas are taken into consideration when deciding on changes in the Public Transport sector.
  • To help migrants to gain a better understanding about their current situation, we organised - in collaboration with a licensed immigration adviser - four “Immigration Advisory Workshops” in South Canterbury (including one in Ashburton).
  • Over the last year, we gave presentations and speeches to a large number of community groups, businesses, agencies, and employers. These workshops and presentations give our community a better understanding of the cultural differences and the cultural needs of migrants. We will continue to deliver these workshops and presentations, in order to bridge the gap between host people and migrants in our community for best settlement outcomes. 
  • The regular “Coffee Tea & Chat” for migrants only, organised at our base in the Community House, also brings together all ethnicities to help them combat their social isolation, give them more exposure to the English language, learn about and experience the vibrancy of each other’s cultures, share experiences, and benefit from the support generated by these social interactions. 
  • Another highlight for our migrants was the visit to our local fire service station, where they learned how to set up an evacuation plan in case of a fire outbreak, how to make an emergency call, and how important it is to have smoke alarms in their homes and offices. Also, to celebrate International Migrants Day, we organised a BBQ at the Community House, to bring migrants and the community together. 
  • Newcomers can pick and get involved in any of our activities including walking groups, knitting groups, potluck lunches and potluck dinners, movie nights, BBQs, day trips, meeting for dinner and social drinks.

Dunedin Multicultural Council

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  • Araiteuru Marae: We have been welcoming former refugees for the past 18 months by providing by the official powhiri, which we are now happy to announce, is being continued by Mana Whenua and the Mayor’s Office as a full Civic Reception.
  • We are now developing with Interfaith, NGOs, government departments and other interested groups, the provision of a community powhiri for all migrants (from within Aotearoa and elsewhere).
  • In addition to this, we are committed to the annual DMEC noho marae to strengthen our relationships, as outlined in our 25-year strategic plan.
  • We are also partnering in a social enterprise with the An-nur Kiwi Trust that provides a small income for the DMEC.

Auckland City Multi-ethnic Council

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  • To commemorate the Race Relations Day, the 11th Annual Franklin Multicultural Festival was held on April 7, 2018. It was through our efforts that this festival started in Pukekohe and still has huge support in the region. This year, the festival included a soccer tournament with 21 teams of children from seven primary schools participating. A cultural show from 20 different groups comprising Māoris, Pacific Islanders, Indians, Asians, Africans, and Middle Eastern, was also organised. 
  • Interfaith forums: As members of Auckland Interfaith Council (AIFC) and the Council of Christians and Muslims (CCM), we actively participated in all their programmes. On April 22, we participated at the “Peacenic” get-together organised by the CCM at the Monte Cecelia Park, Onehunga, with over hundred people in attendance. 
  • Santa Parade: On December 13, we organised a float in the Papatoetoe Christmas Parade that was attended by a huge crowd spread over more than three kilometres. 

Manawatu Multicultural Council

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  • In a big achievement for us, a number of women have gained employment after attending our conversational English classes, and willingly volunteered their time in organising various events the past year. 
  • Last year, the Council took the responsibility of helping obtain funding to continue the Women’s Only Zumba classes, and we are happy to have up to 20 women taking part in this important exercise twice every week. Our dance project has been greatly encouraged by and participated by many women from different cultures. 
  • An important part of our annual activities is a trip to a marae. For a number of years, we have taken bus loads of migrants and refugees to visit a marae and learn about the Māori culture and the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi. We have established a firm relationship with the Rangitane Iwi, our local iwi, who willingly give migrants and refugees a Treaty of Waitangi orientation during the year.

Christchurch Multicultural Council

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  • We had a 3-in-1 celebration this year: Holi - Race Unity Day - St Patrick’s Day. Everyone attending had a lot of fun with colours, music, dance, food and getting to know others. The Christchurch and Rangiora Festivals of Colours (Holi) exhibited harmony, happiness, social inclusion, cross-culture participation, inter-culture awareness, and appreciation of multiculturalism in culturally diverse New Zealand. This is in line with the significance of Race Unity Day (21 March). CMC is proud to support these events as they promoted harmony, equality, friendship and happiness within multicultural and wider communities. 
  • We did a joint presentation with Hagley College Principal Mike Fowler, Diversity Manager Thi Phan and Farsi language coordinator Alia Afzali at a Long Term Plan hearing in response to the submission for a funding request of $7m for building a new multicultural centre at Hagley College. A sample of Christchurch’s cultural diversity was showcased in the Council Chambers by having cultural performances from Hagley College’s Afghani and Chinese performers. 
  • A forum with political parties candidates (National’s Nicky Wagner, Labour’s Ruth Dyson, New Zealand First’s Mahesh Bindra, and Green’s Chrys Horn) was organised to hear the candidates’ support for ethnic policy proposals put together by NZFMC, regional multicultural councils and several partners for 2017 NZ Elections. The proposals related to migrants and refugees issues, international students, settlement support and community well-beings under the Local Government Act. 
  • CMC also collaborated with the Russian Cultural Centre Trust of Christchurch and Community Languages Association of NZ to organise and support “The Magic of Voices” event to celebrate the International Mother Languages Day on 25 February. 
  • Multicultural Sports Tournaments: Christchurch Metro Cricket (Metropolitan Cricket Association) ran an inaugural Ethnic T20 Cricket Tournament with the support of CMC. CMC supported the 17th Multi-ethnic Football Tournament organised by Canterbury Polish Association (Darriusz Kanicki and team) at Avonhead Park. Eight teams representing Afghanistan, Fiji, Poland, Solomon Island, South Africa, Thailand, United Nations and Zimbabwe participated.

Christchurch Women Council

  • Christchurch Multicultural Women supported the Selwyn District Council (SDC) in organising Selwyn CultureFest, which was attended by over 4500 people. 
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  • We made further progress with the project “Living Between Two Cultures” which involves interviewing diverse ethnic women about their experiences, hardships and challenges in living their lives in the “two worlds”. The project is nearing completion. The survey questions were sent to the women in Canterbury region and Waimakiriri district. We have 35 case studies.
  • We promoted and supported White Ribbon Day at Korean Festival.
  • In Christchurch, we hosted Indian Naval Vessel Tarini, and its all women crew. It was the first-ever circumnavigation by any all women crew in the world.
  • We also organised fundraising swap-a-bag for Women Refuge with the Shakti Women’s group.

Waikato Multicultural Council

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  • We participated in several community events and seminars including Hamilton Mosque Open Day. 
  • WMC’s affiliated member Waikato Senior Indian Citizens Association Hamilton (WSICA) held their Indian Independence Day Celebration, marking 70 years of independence; as well as Zimbabwe Cultural Kaleidoscope was organised by Shama Community Development Scheme.
  • The 7th Waikato Multicultural Day Celebration took place at the Sacred Heart Girls College hall. The event showcased the culture and traditions by way of dance and music and represented the diversity of ethnicities settled in the Waikato. 
  • We held the event Cultural Village at the Waikato Show on 6-8 April. There were 19 stall holders and 24 cultural performances held throughout the three-day event.
  • Waikato Muslim Association (WMA) Leadership Symposium - WMC was represented at WMA symposium, who together with their national body, Federation of Islamic Association of New Zealand (FIANZ), discussed ways for improving understanding of community strengths and weakness, opportunities and obstacles, success criteria and action for active contribution to New Zealand Society and on ways to improve social-economic outcomes.
  • Chinese New Year Celebration 2018 - The Chinese Arts Society invited WMC along with a number of community organisations to share and partake in the Chinese New Year celebrations which was held in Hamilton.
  • Christmas Celebrations - WMC was also present at the Christmas celebrations of Waikato Filipino Association, Chinese Art Society and the Waikato Senior Indian Citizens Association.
  • Finally, the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) organised an informative event at the Settlement Centre, Hamilton. The topic was “Holidaying in Hamilton”, which was a means of informing new settlers to Hamilton of the array of holiday spots that are within Hamilton. Brochures and information leaflets were distributed to organisation representatives to take back to their respective committees for disbursement to its members. 

Waitaki Multicultural Council

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  • The Waitaki Multicultural Council is part of the Safer Waitaki Coalition. Our areas of focus have included running the Community Self Defence Course targeting rural, migrant women with the support of Safer Waitaki. WMC and Safer Waitaki worked with high schools, Youthline and Police, with funding from Etu Whanau, to enable and facilitate a youth film event with the assistance of local film makers guiding year 9/10 students with the challenge of producing a film in a day. It resulted in the production of 10 violence prevention awareness videos, which have been uploaded to Safer Waitaki and other websites. 
  • Community Safety and Cultural Competency – WMC has supported and participated in cultural awareness training, which has been designed to raise awareness of other cultures in the workplace and the community. 
  • Newcomer activities continue to evolve with a total of 188 events consisting of regular coffee groups, walking groups, mothers groups, book group, Friday Night pub catch ups, Migrant Meet and Share gatherings, Young Newcomers gatherings, games nights, group dinners, Daffadil Picking Day, visits to Steam and Rail and community gardens, organised bus trips, shows and various workshops and outings.
  • Celebrating diversity - A new event was organised to celebrate the International Language Week in the form of afternoon high tea at a venue at the Historic Victorian Precinct, where there are displays of cultural items from many cultures and food from different countries. We learned how to greet people in different languages. Race Relations Day was celebrated with an International Dinner at Pembroke School in March. We had entertainment and a sharing of food from many different countries. 

Multicultural Whangarei

  • International Day of Families event was organised in May 2018, with an increase in stall holders displaying their organisations offerings and a full programme of entertainment from many cultures. 
  • Our Football tournament held in October 2017, was supported by NZ Police, Tikipunga Football club and 18 teams. 
  • We ran a Treaty of Waitangi programme for two days. 
  • An Immigration Specialist has been volunteering at our offices, providing immigration advice and offering his services where the need is beyond simple questions. 
  • We have teamed with Volunteer Northland to deliver Volunteer workshops for our members to encourage and equip them to volunteer in our community. 
  • We’ve also run volunteer skills training and Xero computer skills training funded by COGS. 
  • We have also run the Profession Speaking Programme where participants receive a Speech New Zealand Certification. Ten students received certificates after our first session. 
  • We worked with Citizens Advice Bureau, English Language Partners & WINGS (Women’s International Networking Group) for Race Relations Day which included a walk and picnic at Whangarei town basin. Each year we partner with these groups to provide an event for the community. 
  • Multicultural morning teas are held once a month at the local RSA. 
  • Once a month we have a shared lunch at the centre, where everyone is welcome. We often have new faces joining us for lunch.

Hutt Multicultural Council

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  • In partnership with Age Concern we started health and well-being exercise classes for seniors using the Steady As You Go (SayGo) programme at the Lower Hutt War Memorial Library. 
  • Self-Defence Classes for women and mixed genders were also held in Naenae and Wainuiomata. 
  • Dr Pushpa Wood of Massey University conducted a financial literacy workshop at the Lower Hutt War Memorial Library under the auspices of National Council of Women, Lower Hutt Branch and HMC. 
  • A Newcomers Network Morning Tea was organised by Mia Dulay at the Stokes Valley Community Hub. 
  • Electoral forums for the Hutt South and Rimutaka electorates were held at the Lower Hutt War Memorial Library and the Walter Nash Centre in Taita. These events were live streamed. 
  • A Multicultural Football Tournament was held at the Hutt Recreation Ground. 
  • A clean up of part of the Hutt Riverbank was well supported by HMC members, the Philippines Embassy and Police ethnic community patrollers. 
  • Mutlifest 2018: Our most successful event in recent years was held at the Naenae Community Hall in partnership with Team Naenae. More than 500 attended with the release of the Peace Doves being a highlight. A celebration of the Holi festival concluded the event.

Upper Hutt Multicultural Council

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  • The Eid celebration took place on the June 9, 2017 and it became our most multicultural event of the year! Working closely with the local Syrian and Muslim communities, the UHMCC team opened up the doors of St Joseph’s School Hall (it is worth noting this is a Catholic School!) to celebrate the end of Ramadan with the diverse people of the Hutt Valley with over 150 people attending, 
  • Upper Hutt Multicultural Week: At the end of September 2017, the UHMCC, with support from the Upper Hutt City Library, Office of Ethnic Communities and E Tu Whanau, ran the first ever “Multicultural Week” where each day of the week was dedicated to a different country/culture of the world. It provided an array of activities, workshops and events including a multi-ethnic Football Tournament, Japan Day, Aotearoa Day, China Day, Middle East Day and a multicultural festival for the grand finale of the week which attracted more than 300 people throughout the day and performances from Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Israel, China, Mongolia, Middle East, Ireland and Poland. 
  • We developed a new program called the “Pathway to successful settlement and employment workshop”. This was rolled out in Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt in 2016, then in April 2018, the course was rolled out in Porirua. We also had a Women’s Self-Defence Course.
  • On the September 2, 2017, Upper Hutt was home to the nation’s first-ever Luo Cultural Festival. The Luo people, despite originating from a number of East African countries – Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Rwanda, and more – hold a united identity based on the “Luo” language, which they all share. 
  • This year we celebrated Race Relations Day with an inter high school debate. UHMCC held their Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival at Expressions Arts and Entertainment Centre, on 3rd March. 
  • This year we held a NOHO Marae for recent migrants and people who have arrived to New Zealand within the last five years.

Tairāwhiti Multicultural Council

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  • The Tairāwhiti Multicultural Council (TMC) is a small voluntary organisation that has been developing a large following across Tairāwhiti. The main focus for TMC has been helping to build the Opportunities without Discrimination (OWD) brand. OWD was launched at the 2016 NZFMC AGM and has been growing ever since. It aims to promote inclusion, diversity and opportunities for all, while eliminating discrimination and celebrating differences. OWD uses the wearing of odd socks to promote the message that “It’s OK to be different”.
  • The highlight of OWD's first year is the partnering with a local hosiery manufacturer in Gisborne to produce brightly coloured odd socks as a way to promote the OWD brand. The odd socks represent the message “It’s ok to be different” and have proven to be a hit with over 200 pairs sold at the recent colour run. A portion of funds raised from the sales of the socks are donated to the Gizzy School Lunches program that provides lunch to Primary Schools in Gisborne.
  • We have successfully partnered with the Gisborne Harriers Club to deliver three very well attended colour runs. These colour runs have proven to be a great way to promote the OWD message “that is ok to be different”, - once everyone is covered in paint we are all the same. 
  • We donated three picnic tables to Gisborne Hospital to provide staff, patients and their whanau quiet places to relax. 
  • With help from the Community Organisation Grants Scheme we were able to run a very successful appreciation dinner for volunteers from various community organisations across Tairāwhiti. Once again the Tairāwhiti Multicultural Council supported the Bahai faith community to host the Race Unity Speech Contest with competitors from each of the secondary schools in our district.
  • Bollywood Star Restaurant owner Baljeet Sandhu and a group of volunteers provided free lunches for the needy from his restaurant regularly. Mr Sandhu said they hoped to make it weekly but at the very least it would happen once a fortnight. This project is in partnership with TMC.
  • Also, thanks to the Tairawhiti Multicultural Council, Gisborne residents will again be able to celebrate the Diwali Festival of Lights free of charge.

Tauranga Multicultural Council

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  • We ran a very successful professional English speaking course for migrants at the end of last year. In fact, we were so overwhelmed with the response that we are planning to run another one later this year. 
  • Loyal members of our Newcomers Network Group have continued to support the coffee mornings, with many newcomers continuing to use this service. The Living in Harmony evenings continued last year after the festival with a different host country every month. The English classes continue with an additional evening class and are well attended.

Rotorua Multicultural Council

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  • The Rotorua Multicultural Council entered the Rotorua Westpac Business Excellence Awards. We presented nine short tableaux, bringing together our migrant members and partner organisations, and were announced as the winner of the Community Organisation Westpac Business Excellence Award. 
  • We also sponsored the Cultural Youth Leader Award in the OneChance Youth Awards. To ensure that we hear the voice of youth, we co-opted Beatriz Bae, the Chairperson of CATCH (Cultural Awareness to Create Harmony, a Club at Rotorua Girls’ High School), onto our Executive Committee. She has been joined on the Committee by Jason Lee from Korea, the Head Boy at Western Heights High School. 
  • During our regular multicultural tea and coffee mornings, we created the opportunity for our members to listen to and meet informally with politicians. We were joined by the honourable Todd McClay, Member of Parliament from Rotorua. 
  • Instead of holding a large multicultural festival, we have been working with ethnic communities, schools and Toi Ohomai to celebrate the many cultures in our community. With a small Christian school, Bethlehem College Chapman, we celebrated the nine ethnicities among its students. 
  • We held two very successful three-hour workshops presented by Tania Te Whenua of Te Whenua Consulting titled The Treaty in Your Workplace and Building Relations with Māori. Over fifty migrants attended the second workshop. Each of the participants received a Te Whenua Consulting and RMC Certificate of Attendance. 
  • On the last Wednesday of most months, we organise a multicultural lunch at the Rotorua Library, each month hosted by migrants from a different country. The host provides enough food for the guests to taste, all the participants bring a small plate of their own traditional food along, and the host gives a brief talk about their country and its culture explaining the dishes they have prepared.

Southland Multicultural Council

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  • We organised the International Women’s Day Celebration on March 2018, and Immigration Policy Changes Seminar in February 2018. We proudly represented the Southland Multicultural Council Women’s group in National Council of Women Southland on the Annual Suffrage Day. 
  • We arranged a get-together with members of other women groups for celebration of the International Women’s day with fun games and activities, and entertainments to make them feel special on that day. 
  • We also ran a Multicultural-Women’s Self-Defence Course in association with Women’s Self Defence Network Wāhine Toa. 
  • Southland Multicultural Women’s Group also met in August to witness the healthy cooking demo of the Sri Lankan dishes. A spa party and Hokonui Culture Feast was also organised last year.

New Zealand is changing. So should the business of story-telling.

New Zealand is changing. So should the business of story-telling.