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Burmese Community Celebrates Auckland Settlement

12 February, 2001


Auckland International Cultural Festival 2001

Burmese refugees who have now settled in New Zealand under the country’s refugee quota programme will join more than thirty other ethnic communities in a celebration of Auckland’s cultural diversity this Sunday, 18 February.

In the last six months more than 200 Burmese have settled in greater Auckland – the first time that the Refugee and Migrant Service (RMS) programme has established homes for such a large number of Burmese through the quota.

The free annual event is at Potters Park in Balmoral (on the corner of Dominion and Balmoral Roads), where a celebration of ethnic music, dance and food, will boast performances from a diverse range of cultures, some thousands of years old.

The Rt Hon Helen Clark will officially open the festival at 10am.

"This festival recognises that many peoples now make up New Zealand. Auckland has a particularly wide representation of cultures with an estimated 150 different ethnic groups. Each brings to our city the richness and diversity of their culture, heritage, and language.

"We have the challenge of celebrating our multi-culturalism on the foundation of our bi-culturalism. This year's international cultural festival is a wonderful example of how this challenge is being met. Celebrating our diversity will make us all stronger," Helen Clark said.

The opening ceremony will be followed by a performance from “Many Hands,” a New Zealand based group of musicians from Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Pacific Islands.

Originally an international percussion ensemble using traditional instruments, “Many Hands” creates new and exciting music that reflects New Zealand’s dynamic multicultural society.

Guest MCs’ Stacey Daniels, Pio Terei and Chic Littlewood will direct the all-day programme over two stages where audiences will be treated to performances from more than thirty ethnic communities.

One of the festival’s showcase performers is Mr Nough Gobana, a talented Ethiopian musician. (Mr) Nough is committed to educating Africans living abroad about their background and how they can share their unique culture with their host nations.

The festival is also celebrating “debut” performances from several ethnic communities this year, including two special guest performances from the Burundian and Rwandan cultural groups.

The festival is organised by the Refugee and Migrant service (RMS), New Zealand’s domestic settlement agency for quota refugees, in conjunction with Auckland City. All funds raised on the day will go towards RMS refugee support and settlement services to refugee survivors.

ENDS

Auckland International Cultural Festival
Potters Park (Cnr Dominion and Balmoral Roads)
Sunday, 18 February from 10.00am
FREE Entry

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