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Greater Support For Ethnic Communities

New Office Will Bring Greater Support To Ethnic communities

A higher profile for ethnic issues and greater support for ethnic communities, in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty region, will result from the opening of the regional office of the Office of Ethnic Affairs in Hamilton today, says the Department of Internal Affairs.

Mervin Singham, Director, Office of Ethnic Affairs for the Department, says today is an important day for the communities of the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. “By establishing a presence, in the region, we can assist the various ethnic communities to engage and build relationships with each other. It will also assist in empowering those communities to access the services and support they need.

“With over 14 per cent of the Hamilton population having ethnic origins other than Anglo-Celtic, Maori or Pacific Islands, it is important that there is an Ethnic Affairs presence in the region,” says Mervin Singham.

He says that the Office of Ethnic Affairs will contribute to the region through a mix of new and existing programmes. “We will, for example, expand the Building Bridges pilot programme which works with specific ethnic communities to identify issues and provide support for communities to address them. Other initiatives include Intercultural Awareneess and Communication training to government agencies so they can be more responsive to the needs of Ῥocal communities.

The Regional Office will be supported by advisor Sandra Mackenzie. Mervin Singham says that Sandra comes into her new role with several years of experience providing advisory services in building local communities. “Sandra brings valuable experience in the community development area through work with Lotteries and Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS) and tertiary qualifications with a Masters in Management (Community). She has a strong commitment to the Waikato region through having lived there for 12 years with a young family.

Sandra says she is relishing the challenge of her new role. “I am looking forward to getting out in the community and working with people to enhance the diversity and capacity of our community.”

Mervin Singham says it is an exciting day for the Waikato-Bay of Plenty region, because it will ensure that there is strong support for the region. “Ethnic Affairs is strongly committed to supporting these communities and ensuring that we are leaders alongside others in contributing to a cohesive, peaceful and vibrant society,” concludes Mervin Singham.

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Ethnic Affairs Office is located at Level 2, 410 Victoria Street, Hamilton, phone 07 839 9961. Further information about the policies and programmes of the Office of Ethnic Affairs can be found on the website at: www.ethnicaffairs.govt.nz


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