Director’s Update - First Quarter 2018

Kia ora koutou katoa

Chinese New Year of the Earth Dog has been welcomed with colour and verve across the country.  Xin nian kuai le!

A distinctive array of New Year celebrations in our ethnic communities are now among the many traditions enjoyed in our wonderfully diverse country. These festivals and observances, held throughout the year, have become integral to our home-grown Kiwi custom and tradition. 

The facts are plain for all to see: there are 213 ethnic groups in New Zealand who speak more than 160 languages. We define Auckland, our largest city, as being super diverse, with some forty percent of the inhabitants born overseas.  I believe we are much more accepting of difference and diversity than ever before, including linguistic diversity (see our feature on UNESCO Mother Language Day). This is something to be very proud of and something we should celebrate.

But we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. The acceptance, welcoming and embracing others, no matter who they are or where they’re from, is defined by our actions. These words on paper must be transferred to deeds carried out in our communities, to ensure that migrants and former refugees are truly made to feel at home in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

That is the reason why the work of the Office of Ethnic Communities is so important, and will continue to be, long into the future.

This is my last message as the Director as I am moving on, to spend more time with family in Malaysia and elsewhere.  I am happy that the Office has made good progress in connecting with our diverse ethnic communities, supporting our Minister, and pursuing its new strategic direction and work programmes that we directed at supporting communities to thrive and flourish.  But the job is far from done, and, for my part, I will continue to contribute as a member of the ethnic communities sector.

I am indebted to the fantastic support that I have received from so many of you and the awesome team at the Office of Ethnic Communities.   Thank you, all; xie xie

E noho rā

Wen Chin Powles
Director, Office of Ethnic Communities