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Carter Speech : 'We Are All New Zealanders'

Chris Carter: Speech for the launch of 'We Are All New Zealanders'

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests, members of New Zealand's ethnic communities

Kia Ora, Talofa Lava, Ni Hao, Zdravo, Namaste!


I have just greeted you in only a few of the scores of languages that are spoken daily in New Zealand in 2003.

Some of these languages, such as Mandarin, Croatian, Danish or French, have been spoken in our nation for over 100 years.

Others are more recent arrivals in our cafes and pubs, our Parliament and our sports fields.

They are evidence that New Zealand might be an island nation, but it has never shut the world out.

Throughout our history, we have recognised that our economy, our way of life and our relevance in a wider world has depended on a measured exchange of people, ideas and culture.

That is as true now as it has always been.

New Zealand's capacity for tolerance and for accommodating cultural diversity has been a key part of our success.

But that is not to say that we can take that capacity for granted.

Increasing social diversity inevitably creates issues and discussion. There is nothing wrong with this.

But there is something wrong when those issues and discussions become a justification for prejudice.

As a society I believe we need to guard against this.

Since becoming Minister for Ethnic Affairs, I have heard some disturbing stories of discrimination from ethnic communities all over the country.

I have heard these stories from ordinary families working hard to earn a living, to bring up their children, and to live a decent and good life.

I have heard these stories from new migrants and ethnic people whose families have been here for generations.

I have heard these stories from people embarassed to be telling them.

So it is with considerable pleasure that I am able to support the launch of 'We Are All New Zealanders', an advertising campaign specifically designed to promote positive race relations.

The value of this campaign lies in reminding New Zealanders of the assumptions that we all make from time to time about people.

Stereotypes are perhaps inevitable but they should not go unchallenged. There is always a risk they will harden into something ugly.

I want to take this opportunity to thank John Roberts from McCann-Erickson, without whom none of this would have happened.

He and his company have stuck their heads above the parapet and undertaken this massive project for free.

Thank you also to Joris De Bres and the Human Rights Commission who are co-ordinating the campaign. Your role in our society is a crucial one.

I'd also like to acknowledge Kathy Cunningham from Empire Events who has done a lot of work to bring all this together.

Finally, a big thank you to New Zealand's media organisations, many of whom have donated free space and air-time for the advertising in this campaign.

We are all New Zealanders regardless of what language we speak.


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