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Cross-cultural understanding at Waitakere City

Media release
13 December 2004

Cross-cultural understanding at Waitakere City Council

Ethnic communities will formalise their relationship with Waitakere City Council on Friday 17 December at a ceremony attended by representatives from central and local government and Waitakere's migrant and refugee communities.

The signing of a Community Partnership Agreement (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Waitakere Ethnic Board, symbolises the Council’s long-term commitment to engage with ethnic communities.

The MOU with ethnic communities is understood to be a first for New Zealand territorial authorities. Waitakere was one of the first Councils to establish a Maori standing committee of Council (Te Taumata Runanga) and also signed an MOU with the local Pacific Islands Advisory Board in September 1998.

“A lot of councils have formed good relationships with their ethnic communities, but at Waitakere, we decided to go one step further, to formalise the relationship between the City and the Ethnic Board,” says Deputy Mayor Councillor Carolynne Stone.

“The ethnic makeup of Waitakere has changed dramatically in the last 10 years and this move to open the doors to greater cross-cultural understanding demonstrates how seriously we take our responsibilities that every citizen, every culture is empowered to take part in the democratic processes of our City,” says Councillor Stone. Councillor Peter Chan is the first Asian to be elected to the Council, a reflection of the changing nature of the community.

“The Council has a dedicated staff resource to work with the Ethnic Board in identifying additional resource needs to consider for the next financial year,” she says. Council and the Ethnic Board have committed to developing a shared work programme in 2005.

The Waitakere Ethnic Board was established on 20 September 2003, as an outcome of the New Out West Democracy Project with the intention for ethnic communities to have a “voice” in decision making.

The “WEB” has emerged as a result of an ethnic community initiative to be more active in New Zealand Society and democratic processes, to promote settlement and provide advocacy on behalf of a growing part of the Waitakere community.

“Our common goals include social inclusion – to promote acceptance, bringing cultures together, acknowledgement and respect for cultural diversities. Both parties will seek for Waitakere City to become the city of choice for host communities and new settler communities,” says WEB President, Abdul Rafik.

“We are both committed to encouraging and promoting activities that foster greater understanding,” he says.

Memorandum of Understanding between
Waitakere City Council and Waitakere Ethnic Board
When? 6pm Friday 17 December 2004
Where? Waitakere Council Chamber, Civic Centre, 6 Waipareira Ave, Henderson


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