Leading the Way

The Office of Ethnic Commmunities is committed to building the capacity and capability of ethnic people to provide leadership for their communities.

There are four aspects to our leadership programme;

Leading the way

A range of leaders share their experiences and views on  building leadership capability in ethnic communities. What qualities does  a leader need to have to make a difference ? What can you do to bring about change within your community?

 View the individual interviews

Dr Anwar Ghani

Dr Anwar Ghani is president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand. A senior environmental scientist with AgResearch in Hamilton, Dr Ghani is committed to supporting the Muslim community and help build bridges with the wider New Zealand population.

He would like to see a future where we not only tolerate each other, but where we enjoy the presence of others in New Zealand.



Gregory Fortuin

Gregory was the first resident representative of the new South Africa in New Zealand, when appointed Honorary Consul by Nelson Mandela in 1998. He was New Zealand's Race Relations Conciliator in 2001 and 2002. He is also involved in community issues across New Zealand and is the founding chair of the Youth Suicide Awareness Trust. He believes that ethnic communities need to be doing more to engage with wider New Zealand. “We have got to lift the veil and we have got to go and engage and be more open about who we are,” he says.


Mai Chen

Mai Chen is the Managing Partner of Chen Palmer New Zealand Public and Employment Law Specialists, Barristers and Solicitors. She is the best-selling author of the Public Law Toolbox. Born in Taiwan, Mai Chen arrived in New Zealand at the age of six and understands the challenges for migrant families starting life in a new country.

Always be proud of who you are, she says. “You cannot control what other people do. But you can control your own actions”.



Sir Mark Solomon

Sir Mark Solomon is the chairman of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu. He was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013 for services to Māori and business.

Sir Mark believes that the simplest way to getting an improved understanding of other cultures is to start a dialogue. ”We look different but all people respond to good manners, and conversation”.




Mitchell Pham

Mitchell Pham arrived as a refugee from Vietnam at age 13 and describes himself as born in Vietnam and made in New Zealand.  He co-founded a successful technology group AUGEN, which operates in both New Zealand and Vietnam. He believes New Zealand has to engage better with Asia, if it wants to do more business in the region.

Leadership means taking ownership and taking action, he says. “Leaders need to be connected, and committed to their communities”.


 Ranjna Patel

Ranjna Patel is the  Chairperson of the South Asian Leadership Group and a co-founder of East Tamaki Health Care . She is a third generation Kiwi Indian who describes herself as a doer rather than a leader. She believes that ethnic people have unique strengths and qualities which can help them achieve a great deal if they set their minds to it.

You don’t have to have professional qualifications, or be wealthy or a prominent member of the community to be a leader, she says. She wants to see more young people take up the opportunities that are there to bring about the difference they want within their communities.





Virginia Chong

Virginia Chong is the National President of the New Zealand Chinese Association. She is a second generation New Zealander who believes that you cannot sit on the sidelines if you want to make a difference. “If there are things within your community that you think need to change, then you have to get involved and bring about change from the inside, she says.

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Ethnic Leaders' Forums

These forums have been taking place in Christchurch and will be extended to Wellington and Hamilton.

Participants are those who are prominent in ethnic communities, faith groups and local agencies.

The forums are facilitated by the Office of Ethnic Communities and aim to:

  • build connections
  • discuss common goals
  • find ways to present a collective voice