Our Focus Areas

We have four focus areas, which are the key planks that support our Purpose and contribute towards fulfilment of the Vision. The focus areas are our ‘intermediate outcomes’ selected to support and deliver on our Purpose and Vision. While work programme items may vary from year to year and are reviewed annually, the focus areas are more enduring – and provide a multi-year framing for our work. The 2016/2017 work programme is at the end of this document.

The focus areas provide a balance of focus across a range of customers and audiences within ethnic communities and the broader New Zealand community, including:

  • facilitating access to services and opportunities, and building capability within ethnic communities,
  • providing opportunities for networking, connecting and mutual understanding between ethnic communities and the broader New Zealand community, and
  • raising the profile of and building awareness of New Zealand’s ethnic communities, including the strength and value that diversity offers, in the broader New Zealand community.

The focus areas are also informed by literature and social theory. Our focus areas are underpinned by, and map to, the five widely accepted indicators of social cohesion: (Spoonley, P., Peace, R., Butcher, A., O’Neill, D., Social cohesion: A policy and indicator framework for assessing immigrant and host outcomes. Social Policy Journal of New Zealand. Issue 24. March 2005. Pp 85-110. Jenson, J. 1998. Mapping Social Cohesion: The State of Canadian Research. Canadian Policy Research Networks Inc. CPRN Study No. F/03, Ottawa.)

  • Inclusion—equity of opportunities and outcomes (for example, access to the labour market, income, education, housing and health)
  • Belonging—a sense of being part of the wider community, trusting others, common respect for the rule of law and civil and human rights
  • Participation—involvement in economic and social activities, community groups, and in political and civic life (for example, voting, standing for election)
  • Legitimacy—confidence in public institutions and institutional responsiveness
  • Recognition—all groups, including the host country, value diversity, respect differences and are protected from discrimination and harassment.

Focus Area 1: Growing knowledge and understanding of ethnic diversity and inclusion in New Zealand

This is our foundational focus area and is about ‘understanding and influencing’. Building our capacity and capability in this area will enable the Office of Ethnic Communities to better serve communities, more successfully engage across the public sector, and be an authoritative advisor to government.

Through developing and expanding the depth and breadth of the Office’s knowledge and expertise on the complexity, opportunities, benefits and implications of ethnic diversity for New Zealand we will be in the best position to take informed actions and to share and utilise our knowledge across government, the community and wider society.

Work programme items that support achievement of this focus area are largely policy and research oriented. This focus area is particularly linked to the social cohesion indicators of Inclusion and Legitimacy.

Focus Area 2: Connecting people in ethnic communities to each other, wider society and government

This focus area is about ‘connecting, enabling and empowering’. Leveraging our knowledge base, we intend to deliver targeted services, create opportunities and fund community-led initiatives that support positive connections, integration and social cohesion.

Work programme items that support achievement of this focus area include services to support ethnic communities to have equitable access to public services (for example, Language Line telephone interpreting service) and potential funding or initiatives to enable diverse groups to connect and engage with each other. Priorities within those categories are likely to shift from year to year but could include a focus on two way connections between ethnic businesses and the broader business community, and on developing and connecting ethnic leaders.

This focus area is particularly linked to the social cohesion indicators of Belonging and Participation.

Focus Area 3: Increasing active citizenship of people in ethnic communities

This focus area is about ‘informing, enabling and empowering’. It builds on the foundational platform provided by the previous focus area. Once basic connections are established, and opportunities for further connections are facilitated, there is the possibility of more ‘active citizenship’ occurring. Connected communities, where all people have equitable access to government services and have opportunities to connect and engage beyond their own immediate community sphere is an important start point for building a sense of belonging and a willingness to participate and contribute as active citizens.

Active citizenship is about engaging and contributing above and beyond day to day activities. It is predicated on a sense of commitment to the broader community and trust in the systems and institutions that are fundamental aspects of our nation.

Work programme items that support achievement of this focus area include encouraging and enabling civic participation (for example, voting, participating in local and central government processes, and standing for election) and volunteering in a range of capacities.

This focus area is particularly linked to the social cohesion indicators of Participation and Legitimacy.

Focus Area 4: Valuing diverse cultures and ethnicities within communities, wider society and the nation

This focus area is about ‘celebrating, influencing and valuing’. It speaks to the superdiverse nature of our population now (particularly in Auckland) and the projected shift in our overall demographics over time.

This focus area highlights how important it is to move beyond a mere tolerance to a positive acknowledgement, celebration and valuing of diversity. Achievement here would reflect a depth of mutual understanding, respect and value between the diverse communities that make up New Zealand.

Achievement in this focus area draws on the work in the other three areas. It builds on a sound knowledge base (Focus Area 1); foundational initiatives that support access to services and connections between and across communities and government (Focus Area 2); and active citizenship (Focus Area 3). Achievement of this focus area brings us closer to the aspirational state embodied in our Vision 'Flourishing ethnic diversity; thriving New Zealand.'

Work programme items that support achievement of this focus area include: community-based celebrations; arts, culture and identity related projects; and communications and public information activities. This work may best be progressed over time via funding directly to community groups and/or via partnering with others who also have a mandate or interest in this area.

This focus area is particularly linked to the social cohesion indicators of Recognition and Belonging.

Image of a diverse couple looking at a smart phone.

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