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Census figures on ethnicity

6 December 2006 Media Statement

New initiative planned following Census figures on ethnicity

The Labour-Progressive government is developing a major new piece of work designed to strengthen relations between New Zealand's different communities, Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter said today.

His comments follow new figures from the 2006 Census showing New Zealand is continuing to get more ethnically diverse, with the Asian community in particular growing by almost 50 per cent since 2001.

""New Zealand can only become culturally and economically richer as our mix of people diversifies," Mr Carter said.

"The contribution ethnic New Zealanders are making to our country is immense. But as the racially motivated attacks on three Muslim women over the past three days shows, we need to be constantly mindful of the challenges diversity creates, as well as its opportunities.

"Ethnic New Zealanders deserve the right to access government services, walk down the street, and enjoy a happy fulfilling life without the spectre of racism. Under no circumstances do we want the sort of difficulties in New Zealand that have arisen in parts of Australia," Mr Carter said.

"With this in mind, for some months Cabinet has been considering ways to draw together a wide range of enhanced programmes across government to improve dialogue and understanding between New Zealand's different cultures. Details of this work will be announced in the New Year."

Mr Carter said there was enormous competition around the world at the moment to attract skilled migrants.

“This government has recognised that the best way to draw talented people to New Zealand is to ensure an environment that celebrates and rewards the contributions they bring. Today’s Census figures indicate we are succeeding.

“The job ahead is to help all New Zealanders learn to understand and appreciate each other so all can participate meaningfully in the affairs of this country and enjoy the benefits of prosperity."

ENDS

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