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More than just food and entertainment

Pansy Wong National Ethnic Affairs Spokesperson

30 March 2001

More than just food and entertainment

New Zealand's first MP of Asian ethnicity Pansy Wong is delighted that she will open Christchurch's Festival of Asia at the Arts Centre, 10.45am, Saturday 31 March.

"The Minister for Ethnic Affairs George Hawkins was only partly right when he said the festival 'offers New Zealanders a unique opportunity to enjoy live music and dance performances, view Asian crafts and sample Asian food.'

"George, there is much more to it than just food and entertainment," Pansy Wong said. "While the festival highlights the richness and diversity of our country's multi-ethnic make up, it is a timely reminder that we are one country with many people who should contribute equally to the well-being of our shared future.

"Therefore, it is important to develop mature relationships between domestic Asian communities and the wider society.

"Wider society includes decision makers, community and business leaders who currently do not engage extensively with Asian communities beyond cultural and social exchanges.

"I believe expertise within the Asian communities, such as in the areas of business acumen and educational achievement, are under-utilised in the formulation of New Zealand's economic and educational strategies and policies. We can do much better.

"Asian communities must ditch their modesty and boldly step forward to take an active role in influencing New Zealand debates on values, education, health, social services and economic policies," Pansy Wong said.

The Festival of Asia is being hosted by the Asia 2000 Foundation and has taken place in cities throughout New Zealand since 18 March.


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