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Labour releases Ethnic Affairs policy

18 October 2008 Media Statement
Labour releases Ethnic Affairs policy

Labour Party spokesperson for Ethnic Affairs, Chris Carter, said at Labour’s Ethnic branch campaign launch today that the creation of a school liaison function within the Office of Ethnic Affairs and the establishment of a community festivals fund will head the Labour-led government’s aims of maximising the strengths and benefits of New Zealand’s increasing ethnic diversity.

Today one New Zealander in four was born outside our country. New Zealand is home to people from over 170 different ethnicities and cultures. Auckland is the southern hemispheres most ethnically diverse city.

“Many ethnically diverse societies are torn by conflict, prejudice and discrimination. New Zealand has managed to build a very diverse society with few of the conflicts other migrant nations have faced. This has been possible through political leadership and the kiwi sense of fair play,” said Chris Carter.

When Labour became the government in 1999 the Office of Ethnic Affairs was established to represent the interests of emerging migrant communities. Other initiatives have included the historic apology to the Chinese community for the poll tax which impacted on Chinese-Kiwis for many years and the building bridges initiative which seeks to connect our different communities.

To further support New Zealand’s increasing diversity Labour will develop a school liaison function within the Office of Ethnic Affairs.

“Schools are often the first place that newly settled migrants and other New Zealanders come into contact with each other. By better supporting schools with ways to connect students from different cultural and ethnic communities, they should understand each other better and be more comfortable in different cultural settings,” Chris Carter said.

For the last seven years Parliament has formally celebrated Chinese New Year, the Hindu festival of Diwali and the Muslim Festival of Eid. This year Roshanah, the Jewish New Year, was celebrated at Parliament for the first time.

“These events, opened by Prime Minister Helen Clark, are a powerful message to all New Zealanders that we are now a multi-faith as well as a multi-ethnic country.
The success of these events and the growing interest in large ethnic festivals throughout New Zealand has encouraged Labour to establish a Community Festivals Fund.

This will broaden the opportunities for cultural groups and local communities to access funding that can help them to promote positive engagement between different ethnic groups.

“Today’s announcement continues nine years of commitment by the Labour-led government to promote policies that celebrate New Zealand’s diversity as an asset to our culture and our economy,” said Chris Carter.


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