Director's Update July 2015

In 2013, the United Nations published a World Happiness Report which examined data from the Gallup World Poll to determine the level of happiness for participating countries. At that time New Zealand’s Happiness Ranking was 13th out of 156 countries.

New Zealand is recognised internationally for a healthy reputation in both the latest World Happiness Report where we are now ranked in 9th place and in the Institute for Economics and Peace 2015 Global Peace Index[1] where we were identified at the more peaceful end of the scale.

Why are these ratings important to us? For one thing, it gives us an indication of how well we are doing as perceived by others according to a set of criteria. Our international reputation is also important for reasons of safety and security as well as prosperity and cultural maintenance. Measuring our wellbeing helps cement our identity as a nation that is generally cohesive, harmonious and thriving[2].

The Office of Ethnic Communities contributes to the journey of New Zealand’s identity through its programmes which are designed to support inclusion across our communities.  We are currently investigating ways to effectively encourage collaboration across our communities to identify localised solutions for challenges facing successful settlement through our Settling In grant funding and workshops.  By encouraging and promoting discussion and participation in matters that are important to all New Zealanders such as language maintenance, voting rights and leadership, communities are able to discover the impact of identity issues by growing understanding and trust amongst one another.

Promoting conversations across ethnic groups or intercultural dialogue is one of the ways in which people can be brought together to collaborate. Dialogue and openness should not be about abstract notions of cohesion or integration, but about addressing issues and challenges at a grassroots level and developing practical and appropriate solutions. For example, in recognition of the growing diversity in New Zealand, the Plunket National Board set a goal for the organisation to ‘explore and define an Asian strategy and Asian models of care’ in the organisation. The strategy[3] describes how this will be achieved over the coming five years. Plunket has made this draft available in English, Mandarin, Korean and Hindi so please feel free to provide them feedback. You have until the 31 October.

Even within our own ethnicity and beliefs we are all still unique as individuals.  It is important we retain our uniqueness through our own identity as well as through our heritage in order to grow and thrive.   We must also appreciate and nurture the diversity of our communities and create space for difference to exist while finding ways with one another to appreciate our diversity within a frame of shared values.

Although we are known as a nation of diversity and difference, whatever our culture, heritage or beliefs we are all New Zealanders.  Let’s take heart of the beautiful land we all call home and play our part in promoting this country as a role model for a socially cohesive and harmonious nation so that our next generation can flourish in a safer, more prosperous and thriving New Zealand.