Minister's Update - March 2018

Image of the Hon Minister Jenny Salesa - Minister for Ethnic Communities - speaking at the Holi festival celebration

Kia ora, malo e lelei, talofa lava, namaste, ni hao, mabuhay, anyoung haseyo and very warm greetings to everyone.

I recently hosted the spectacular Hindu festival of colour, Holi, in Parliament’s Banquet Hall. It was a dazzling occasion to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. While we didn’t throw water and coloured powder around the Banquet Hall, people had the option of having ‘gulal’, or coloured powder, placed on their foreheads, symbolising that we are all equal. It’s also fitting that we held Holi, a celebration about connection and equality, on the eve of Race Relations day, as both events underscore the importance of diversity and ensuring equal opportunities for everyone regardless of race, ethnicity or religion.

The first quarter of 2018, while not quite over yet, has been a blur of frenetic activity and events, punctuated by many highs and the odd low. The low being Cyclone Gita which wreaked havoc across the Pacific region including the Kingdom of Tonga, devastating homes, businesses and schools, including the Primary School I attended as a child. On my recent visit there, it was so sad to see the damage this dramatic weather event meted out, and which will take some years for our people to fully recover from. Our continued best wishes to all of our Pasifika family and friends as they recoup their lives.

On a brighter note, New Zealand women, including many from our diverse cultures, celebrated International Woman’s Day on 8 March 2018. Keynote speakers included the Governor General, the Right Honourable Her Excellency, Dame Patsy Reddy, and the Right Honourable Helen Clark, formerly Administrator of the United Nations Fund for Development and Prime Minister of New Zealand. It has been 125 years since New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. This was a hard won victory, and I intend to continue championing for women of different ethnicities living here.

Recent events have also included my Auckland meeting with the Secretary of State for Portuguese Communities Abroad, H.E. Mr José Luís Carneiro, to discuss the experience of the Portuguese diaspora in New Zealand, and to witness the signing of a working holiday scheme arrangement between New Zealand and Portugal. There was also the recent evening to mark the third Race Relations Day Multiculture Festival, where I joined Race Relations Commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy, and a large gathering of people from ethnic communities for a truly memorable night.

As April approaches, there is much to be done as we continue the work to make the lives of our ethnic communities better, so that their voices can be heard and recognised, their lives enriched and improved, while maintaining their connection to their heritage, culture and language.

Have a happy and safe Easter break everyone.

Malo ‘aupito,
Hon Jenny Salesa
Minister for Ethnic Communities