About us

Group of diverse children around a globe

Who we are

The Office of Ethnic Communities is the Government’s advisor on ethnic diversity in New Zealand. We also provide information, advice and services to, and for, ethnic communities in New Zealand and administer funds to support community development and social cohesion.

Established in 2000 as the Office of Ethnic Affairs, in 2015 we became the Office of Ethnic Communities to align with the Ministerial portfolio and more accurately reflect our community focus.

The Office of Ethnic Communities is located within the Department of Internal Affairs and our work contributes to the Department’s overarching outcome: “Connected citizens, communities and government”.

Through the Department, the Office of Ethnic Communities contributes to broader public sector efforts to deliver on government goals. In particular, we contribute to the government priorities of building a more productive and competitive economy (for example, through our work with the business community) and of delivering better public services (for example, through providing Language Line telephone interpreting services to facilitate access to a range of public services).

The term ethnic (matawaka) in the context of the mandate for the Office of Ethnic Communities refers to people who are migrants, refugees, long-term settlers, and those born in New Zealand who identify their ethnicity as Asian, Continental European, Middle Eastern, Latin American and African.

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Who we serveImage of a blue painted childs face with Papua New Guinea and Australia on the right side of the face and New Zealand on the left cheek.

We serve the interests of New Zealand. Our population is ethnically diverse and increasingly so. It is in the interests of all New Zealanders that we have strong and connected ethnic communities and that New Zealand is able to realise the benefits of ethnic diversity for our nation.

In addition to serving the public generally, as with other population agencies and Offices including the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, the Ministry for Women, the Office for Seniors and the Office for Disability Issues, we also have a mandate relating to a specific population within New Zealand.


Flourishing ethnic diversity; thriving New Zealand


Ethnic communities are strong and connected

The benefits of ethnic diversity for New Zealand are realised

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Focus Areas

  • Growing knowledge and understanding of ethnic diversity in New Zealand
  • Connecting people in ethnic communities to each other, wider society, and government
  • Increasing active citizenship of people in ethnic communities
  • Valuing diverse cultures and ethnicities within communities, wider society and the nation

Service Model

Service Model graphic depicting Community engagement feeding into Policy and project services feed into each other and into processes, systems and support and back into Community Engagement.

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Operating principles

  • We work from a strong knowledge base
  • We partner with others to deliver
  • We work through and influence others
  • We are proactive, agile and creative
  • We are disciplined in our focus on outcomes

Strategic Direction and Intent

For further details please check out the Strategic Direction and Intent for the Office of Ethnic Communities 2016 – 2020 (4215kb PDF).

Organisational structure

Contact Us

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