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Dalziel Speech: Auckland Regional Migrant Centre

Dalziel Speech: Auckland Regional Migrant Resource Centre

Three Kings Plaza 532 Mt Albert Road Auckland 11.00 am

My Parliamentary colleagues, Hon Phil Goff and David Cunliffe, Sir Barry Curtis, Hon John Banks, City Councillors from Auckland City & Manukau City, Abraham Mamer and members of the Auckland Regional Migrant Services Charitable Trust and representatives of government and non-government agencies, ladies & gentlemen.

I don't believe anyone here knows how long I have waited for this moment. It was our 1999 election policy that contained the commitment to developing Migrant Resource Centres, and although this is not the first Migrant Resource Centre in the country, it is the first Regional Centre, which will act as a platform for the satellite centres to come.

I remember arriving at an Auckland Mayoral Forum a couple of years ago, armed only with a concept and a small amount of money by way of the settlement pilot programme.

My message was that by combining the resources of central government, local government and community groups we could provide more effective services. We were all committing resources, but because the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing, we were seeing duplication in some areas and gaps in others.

Although I had hoped that all Councils would commit to the project, it was Auckland City and Manukau City that signed up, and there began the task of identifying the key stakeholders, undertaking in-depth needs assessment across migrant communities and developing a project plan, all of which have culminated in today's opening.

I should say that this did not stop other Councils from acting either, and I attended the North Shore Migrant Resource Centre opening last year.

There are too many people to acknowledge in terms of the work that has gone on behind the scenes, and the danger is that I leave someone out. But there are certain people I want to pay tribute to, because they were my link to the project. There is one person, who is not here, that I particularly want to mention, and that was the person who promoted the concept for inclusion in our 1999 election policy, Mark Gosche. Mark first came across Migrant Resource Centres in Australia, and he returned to New Zealand determined to see them established here. As Minister of Housing, he has offered practical support to his vision, and I thank him and Housing Corporation New Zealand for their contribution of these premises.

I also want to thank Auckland City and Manukau City for their investment in this project. In this context I want to mention the two mayors and the two chief executives: John Banks and Brian Taylor and Sir Barry Curtis and Colin Dale. Thank you for your leadership and your commitment. It was not an easy task bringing everyone together, and although you and I shared frustrations at the time things took, it was better to get it right first time. We want this to be a model for the future, with the flexibility to meet changing needs over time. I am personally committed to maintaining this partnership into the future, and am already looking forward to the opening of the Manukau City Satellite Migrant Resource Centre.

Naturally I want to mention the NZ Immigration Service and in particular Polly and Jan, both now moved onto other roles.

The establishment of a settlement branch was an important part of the Immigration Service's reorientation to settlement outcomes, and the next step will be to build the settlement function into the baseline functions of all branches. I have a new General Manager now, and Andrew Lockhart has stepped into Chris Hampton's shoes, and I am glad that Andrew is here to see to fruition a project that Chris was committed to as well.

There are other government and non-government agencies that make up the one-stop-shop aspect of the Centre: The Auckland Citizens Advice Bureau, the Ministry of Education and Tertiary Education Commission, and the Ministry of Social Development, Work & Income. It is wonderful to see the collaborative concept become a reality.

In addition I want to acknowledge the representatives of the migrant and ethnic communities who have contributed their ideas and energy. I know the Centre will be successful, because it is those who have had the experience of moving to New Zealand who are best able to articulate the needs of the new migrant. This could not have happened without your support. And for those who express concern about the financial side, I make the point that the Migrant Levy is the source of the NZIS contribution to the Centre, and the Migrant Levy is paid by migrants.

Can I also acknowledge some of the other settlement project representatives here today. In that regard I want to single out Michael Barnett, from the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, who has evidenced both a professional and a personal commitment to our New Kiwis. It is vital to build connections and networks between migrant communities and receiving communities, and that is what the settlement projects are all about.

I often say migrant settlement is not a one-way process. It is not something that can be 'done' for someone, and it is not something that a migrant or refugee can 'do' on their own.

Welcoming communities are an integral component of successful settlement policies, in the same way as an unwelcoming environment is a barrier.

And at the same time, 'new Kiwis' must be willing to be part of their new communities and contribute to New Zealand's social and economic well-being. The allegory I have used is that the migrant who is willing to engage is the key, and a welcoming community, equally willing to engage, is what locks in successful settlement.

New Zealand is a migrant nation, and there is not one New Zealander that does not have a migrant story in their past. Each of us, or one of our forebears, made a journey to make New Zealand home - by waka, by ship or by plane - the journey is our common heritage and one of the foundation stones of our nation.

If we begin from that perspective, then there is much that we have in common with new migrants.

If we think of our welcoming new migrants as the co-incidence in time of journeys that have brought people from different lands to make up this wonderful country we call home, and if we think of what brought those peoples together, then we have the basis for embracing the diversity that represents New Zealand today.

Today feels a bit like the end of a journey, but there is still some way to go. That being said, the opening of the Auckland Migrant Resource Centre is an important milestone along the way, and everyone who has contributed to the project can feel proud of this achievement.

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