Director's Update - June 2018

Kia Ora! Welcome to the June edition of our monthly newsletter. While winter has well and truly settled in, the Office of Ethnic Communities remains as busy as ever.

On 19 June, we joined members of our Muslim communities to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr in Parliament. I wish to extend my best wishes to all Muslims in New Zealand and overseas.

Over the Queen’s birthday weekend, it was a delight to have a number of people from ethnic communities receiving the Queen’s honour awards. We can recognise the unsung heroes in our communities in a number of ways. If you know of someone making an outstanding contribution, consider nominating them for a future Queens’s honour. Visit the website of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for more information.

International World Refugee Day was marked on 20 June. The day honours the strength and resilience of the many people globally who are fleeing conflict, civil unrest and persecution. It is also a day to acknowledge the hardships that refugees confront, to recognise the dedication of the people who help them to resettle, and to celebrate the significant contribution they make in the communities in which they have their home.

I would like to congratulate Mitchell Pham on receiving the Kea World Class New Zealand Award on 27 June, for his contribution to the New Zealand technology sector and NZ-Asia relations. He is the first member of an ethnic community to receive this award. Mitchell is a former refugee from Vietnam. He has co-founded technology businesses and sits on several boards. I am glad to see him being acknowledged for his contribution to New Zealand society.

We recently attended the Multicultural New Zealand AGM and conference held in Wellington on 22–23 June. A key feature of the conference was the role Māori play in the integration of migrants and refugees, and how Multicultural New Zealand is developing the Huarahi Hou project. This project is a partnership between Multicultural New Zealand and local tangata whenua to connect newcomers with their local marae.

Funded by our Ethnic Communities Development Fund, Huarahi Hou provides opportunities for newcomers to experience marae-based living and to learn from tangata whenua about the history of their marae. This community led initiative is founded on the strong belief that intercultural sharing between newcomers and the host community will smooth the pathway to successful settlement. The Multicultural New Zealand conference was also an opportunity to celebrate 125 years of women’s suffrage by showcasing ethnic women who champion and lead social change in their communities.

I look forward to recognising the United Nations’ International Friendship Day on 30 July. A day like this draws our attention to how friendships can encourage tolerance and forge stronger communities. I encourage you all to embrace our international friendships. Through friendship amongst diversity, we can achieve stronger ties of trust, and generate passion for a better future.

I’d like to acknowledge our committed staff members who delight in joining our community groups in celebrating events throughout the year. It was great to meet members of our communities at recent celebrations.

Kia kaha


Cathrine Austin