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Strategy seeks to make Hastings a welcoming place for all

Making Hastings an inclusive, welcoming district for all nationalities and cultures is a key vision for Hastings District Council, and one which may be strengthened with Central Government support.

Recently, officials from Immigration New Zealand met with Hastings district councillors, council staff and members of the Multicultural Strategy working group to discuss the Welcoming Communities programme.

The programme is an initiative led by Immigration NZ, working in collaboration with the Office of Ethnic Communities, the Department of Internal Affairs and the Human Rights Commission.

It acknowledges that a strong, vibrant community is one where all members feel included and can participate in its economic, civic and social life, says Immigration New Zealand national manager for migrant settlement Judi Altinkaya.

“Communities that proactively foster an environment where newcomers’ feel welcomed are more likely to enjoy better social outcomes and economic growth,” she says.

Over the past two years the programme has been piloted with nine councils in five locations across New Zealand, including Palmerston North and Whanganui, with a focus on attracting and retaining newcomers and building strong connections.

It was hoped the initiative could be extended to other regions and the concept was well received in Hastings, particularly as it has strong synergies with the Multicultural Strategy the council is currently developing.

Hastings District Council group manager communities and facilities Alison Banks says having Central Government support in this kind of partnership programme could be of real value.

Figures from the 2013 Census show 75.2 per cent of the Hastings population identifies as European, 24.4 per cent as Maori, six per cent as Pacific, 4.3 per cent Asian and 0.5 per cent Middle Eastern, Latin American and African, with some individuals identifying with more than one cultural group.

Since June 2018 the multicultural strategy working group comprising Hastings councillors as well as representatives from various communities, the Hawke’s Bay Multicultural Association, and the Hastings youth council has been working on setting the goals for the strategy, as well as possible actions.

Community engagement has been a big part of this over the last few months in order to develop ideas and priorities of what could happen in Hastings.

All this feedback will be reported back to the working group to be incorporated into the strategy.

In the meantime Immigration NZ is waiting to see whether the Welcoming Communities programme will be extended following the pilots – if so, funding would be available and Hastings could apply to be part of the programme in the future.

© Scoop Media

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