Growing on the world stage -
02 November 2009
Growing on the world stage
Last Friday in Perth, I proudly introduced Botany to the world stage as an example of a place where multi-ethnic and multi-faith communities exist in harmony.
Indeed New Zealand's model of success for social harmony is based on celebrating multi-ethnic and multi-faith communities.
While leading the New Zealand delegation at the fifth Asia-Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue, I was asked to front the only international press conference at the forum to talk about our country's success in achieving social harmony and peace.
Earlier, I had talked about our patch's wonderful diversity and vibrancy, where 49 percent of residents were born overseas.
The theme of this year's Dialogue was Future Faith Leaders and the New Zealand delegation lead the way with a good mix of long standing leaders and also young future leaders, who are eager to carry on the torch.
Men and women representing many of New Zealand's faiths including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism presented a united front. Naturally, forum attendees were treated to a waiata at the end of my key not speech.
As a result of the strong delegation and our highly regarded facilitation practices, New Zealand was praised as being interfaith leaders and again added to our strong international reputation as being a country that celebrates our multi-ethnic and multi-faith communities.
At the closing ceremony, I presented Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith a 2011 World Cup badge and also a New Zealand tie - encouraging him to wear the tie after Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup match.
I didn't receive an Australia tie, but that's okay because I knew I wasn't in danger of having to wear one, with the All Blacks romping home to a 32-19 victory over Australia in Tokyo.
Community spirit is as high as a kite
The Citizen's Advisory Service opening at the Botany town centre on October 16 was a real community turn-out and it was a pleasure to meet such a dedicated group of people serving our patch.
Having a service like Citizen's Advisory will ensure that people in our community have a place to turn to for advice and support.
Community spirit continued to rise at the Kite Festival at Barry Curtis Park on October 26. It was a festival of colour with bright and vibrant designs filling the air as families from all backgrounds came out to join in the fun and fly a kite.
It was a mixture of young and old, with grandparents and grandchildren joining in the fun and keeping the kites up in the air.
It was a real sign that spring is starting to blossom in our patch.
One thing the Citizen's Advisory Service will be able to advise citizens on is the new Social Assistance (Payment of New Zealand Superannuation) Amendment Bill, which provides greater freedom for our Golden citizens by allowing them to receive their entitlements while living and travelling overseas.
Also under the new rules people will be entitled to receive a pension that is equal to the time they have lived and contributed to New Zealand between the ages of 40 and 65.
Someone who has lived here for 22.5 years during this period will receive 50 percent of their pension, while someone who has lived here 30 years will receive 66 percent -contrast to the old rules, where they would only get 50 percent.
Under the "grandparent provision" of the new law, all people who are receiving 50 percent under the current rules will continue to receive 50 percent, or have their payment rate increased if they are entitled to more under the new formula.
Somerville students siege Beehive
Last week, I played host to Rooms 5 and 24 of Somerville Intermediate Schools, who came down to Parliament to visit me in my office in the Beehive.
It was great to see many hands come up when asked who would like to one day sit in my seat. Some even expressed their interest at aiming to one day get into the Prime Minister's seat.
They were, however, serious about presenting me with a booklet of submissions ranging from tougher law and order policies to bolting up manholes to avoid future tragedy after the death of Aisling Symes.
Their interest and knowledge in the Parliamentary process and appreciating their rights to stand up and speak out are a credit to their teachers' long-term planning to stimulate the interest of students in pursuing issues.
Visit my website at www.pansywong.co.nz for snappy shots of our beautiful Botany electorate.
Hon Pansy Wong
MP for Botany
Botany, ours to work and grow together