Statement on Festive Pot-Luck Lunch
Thursday 3 December 2015
Auckland Regional Migrant Services Official Statement
About every six weeks, the ARMS Trust hosts a social event for migrants wishing to connect with one another, in addition to other opportunities to connect with and learn from local people.
This is part of our work in helping new Aucklanders to better integrate into society and their local communities.
All our social events are multi-ethnic and all are welcome.
In our experience over many years, migrants are often uncertain about the right thing to do in their new country and especially how to engage in our customs.
Most migrants are familiar with Christmas, even if they come from a country where Christians are a minority. Even so, if we advertised our December pot-luck lunch as a “Christmas Lunch”, many migrants could assume the lunch was not for them.
When they arrive for this particular event, people will experience a lot of what a Kiwi Christmas is all about.
For any cultural or religious celebration, whether Christmas, Diwali, Eid, Matariki or Chinese New Year, our multicultural staff use appropriate greetings. We celebrate for example, by bringing Diwali sweets to share at Diwali, or giving chocolate eggs at Easter.
So at our December events our staff will wish adults and children Merry Christmas, there will be Christmas trees and Christmas presents for the children from Santa.
Auckland is, by definition, "super diverse" with 160 languages spoken, 44 per cent of Aucklanders born overseas, and a wide range of faiths practised.
This week, our multi-faith staff and volunteers are busy wrapping Christmas presents for our Safari Multicultural Playgroup children, as we do every year. These children are from a wide range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds who might not otherwise get the chance to engage in a Kiwi Christmas.
We see value in acknowledging that not everyone celebrates Christmas and so we use greetings such as "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" alongside Merry Christmas. These are messages Kiwis are used to seeing on many greeting cards sent before Christmas and our summer holidays.
As an organisation working to support migrants, former refugees, and ethnic communities, the Auckland Regional Migrant Services (or ARMS for short) works towards ensuring “a diverse inclusive and vibrant Auckland, with thriving communities making positive valued contributions".
In our daily experience, new migrants love New Zealand, our people, the great outdoors, enjoy our traditional customs, and are right there with home-grown Kiwis cheering on the All Blacks.
To those who celebrate Christmas, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. To those who do not, "Season's Greetings".