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Minister welcomes launch of NZ Pan Asian Congress

Minister welcomes launch of NZ Pan Asian Congress

The Minister for Ethnic Affairs, Chris Carter, is hoping the newly formed New Zealand Pan Asian Congress will provide an effective voice for the interests of Asian New Zealanders.

"I think it is a good thing that the Congress is being established to help New Zealand's Asian communities to work together in significant ways, to defend these communities from attacks by Winston Peters, to foster understanding, and to advocate on behalf of Asian interests."

"We need the collective experience and wisdom of people involved in the Congress if we are to build a society where migrants are valued for their skills and dynamism, and where diversity is regarded as an asset rather than a liability," said the Minister.

The Congress was launched on 4 October at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Helen Clark, Mr Carter, and a number of other dignitaries.

Mr Carter said the Congress faces a challenging task in its bid to unify the many Asian communities represented in New Zealand.

Mr Carter said there is an increasing number of New Zealanders of Asian origin. Nearly 400,000 New Zealanders come from backgrounds other than Maori, Pacific Island or Anglo-Celtic.

"Current population trends indicate that by the year 2016, ten percent of New Zealanders will be of Asian origin. We are a nation of many cultures and many voices, and we are the richer for it", said the Minister.

Mr Carter said he wanted as many people to be able to participate in the new forum as possible.

"Inclusiveness gives the Congress a good chance of building bridges to overcome national, ethnic, linguistic and cultural barriers.

"New Zealand can only benefit from contact and cooperation with Asian countries, because of the importance of trade between New Zealand and Asia, and the traditional value placed on hard work and respect for education by Asian peoples", said Mr Carter.

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