Director's Update - November 2017

The Office of Ethnic Communities warmly welcomes our Minister, the Hon Jenny Salesa, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Ethnic Communities, Michael Wood MP. We will be supporting the Minister and Under-Secretary to deliver the Government’s priorities to ensure that ethnic diversity is a source of strength for New Zealand, and brings new insights, skills and opportunities to everyone in our society.

Our staff in our Auckland and Wellington offices were greatly honoured to receive a visit from the Minister – we appreciated her taking the time to meet with us, and her enthusiasm for the portfolio – and are all looking forward to working with her and providing our advice and support.

Our focus on continuing to grow our knowledge and understanding of ethnic communities in New Zealand, helping to connect communities together and increase participation, and to celebrate diversity will support the Minister’s vision for the portfolio, and strengthen our continuing engagement with communities.

The most recent population projections point to New Zealand’s ever-increasing ethnic diversity, making us one of the most diverse countries in the world. The Office works to increase knowledge and understanding of ethnic diversity and inclusion; connect ethnic communities to each other, wider society and government; increase active citizenship of people in ethnic communities; and increase the value added by diverse cultures and ethnicities within communities, our wider society and the nation. I believe we work best when we work in partnership with ethnic communities and the many national and local organisations that support and promote ethnic diversity around the country.

Diwali shone brightly in October and early November. All over New Zealand the collaboration of community leaders, cities and sponsors made the Hindu Festival of Lights a real highlight of the festive calendar. I joined thousands of festival goers in enjoying the vibrant Auckland and Wellington Diwali celebrations.

Recognition of the success and influence of women leaders from our ethnic communities is steadily growing and congratulations are due to all successful women who are leading the way in our ethnically diverse society. This newsletter brings you news of the Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand and the valuable work that they do for their communities. The winners and nominees of the Women of Influence 2017 Awards and the NEXT Magazine Women of the Year 2017 Awards include many friends of the Office.

Continuing my engagement with communities, I have recently seen some Ethnic Communities Development Fund projects in action, including the New Zealand Refugee Youth Council’s leadership conference, the Upper Hutt Multicultural Council's Multicultural Festival and the New Zealand Indian Central Association's nationwide touring exhibition on the 125-year journey of New Zealand-Indian migration, Mokaa: Land of Opportunity. These worthwhile projects contribute to social cohesion, cultural celebration and leadership opportunities that the Ethnic Communities Development Fund strongly supports. In Christchurch I had the privilege of sharing the experiences of the Malaysian community and witnessed the celebrations of Pistang Pilipino 2017 which was a very vibrant occasion hosted by the Filipino community – my thanks for the warmth and generosity of your hospitality.

Ngā mihi

Wen Powles