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Ethnic Affairs Briefing Papers Released

OFFICE OF HON GEORGE HAWKINS
MINISTER FOR ETHNIC AFFAIRS

MEDIA RELEASE

19 January 2000

Ethnic Affairs Briefing Papers Released

The Government is committed to strengthening ties with ethnic communities, says Minister for Ethnic Affairs, George Hawkins. Improved communication and co-operation between the Government and ethnic communities will be a focus of an empowered Ethnic Affairs service, he says.

Ethnic Affairs briefing papers, released today, show that the previous government's neglect of burgeoning ethnic communities led to disenchantment among many new immigrants.

"Too often we have seen immigrants lured to New Zealand with promises of professional advancement and a high standard of living. Only on arrival they have found their qualifications not recognised and a government that was deaf to their needs,” George Hawkins says.

"Difficulties facing immigrant doctors are just one example of this problem."

The briefing papers released today also show there has been a "degree of frustrated expectations" among some migrant groups.

Mr Hawkins says the previous National government failed to recognise this, failed to develop an effective policy and neglected its responsibility to deliver services to meet the settlement and specific needs of ethnic groups.

The consequential pressures on society are evident. Complaints of racial discrimination have increased over recent years, as have concerns about the effects on social stability.

Since the early 1990s rapid growth in the size and diversity of the ethnic sector in New Zealand has occurred. There has also been a shift in the balance from long standing settled communities to newly arrived and settling migrants. Auckland in particular has become a centre for New Zealand's ethnic population.

The Labour/Alliance coalition Government is determined to strengthen links with New Zealand's ethnic communities and to focus on issues and concerns that are impacting on these peoples.

"The new Government is committed to developing an Ethnic Affairs service which is responsive to the current needs of ethnic communities. We want minority ethnic groups to feel valued and able to maximise their potential in contributing to New Zealand society," George Hawkins says.

ENDS

For more information or copies of briefing paper contact: Selwyn Manning 025-270-9131 or
Teresa McMahon 04-471-9163 / 025 270 9169

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