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Federation Supports a Multicultural Legislation for NZ

14 February, 2012

Federation Supports a Multicultural Legislation for New Zealand

Commenting on the Sunday Star Times article of 12th February 2012 “Ethnic rights advice stuns communities” is ill researched facts and inaccurate.

The Multicultural Legislation being promoted by New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils is a benchmark to provide access (the opportunity for ethnic minority communities to fully participate both socially and economically within the society) and acceptability (feel included and accepted as equal legitimate citizens) for over 100 Ethnic Groups that do not have the voice or enjoy the social privilege that exist.

Our proposed Multicultural Legislation is not about Ethnic Communities wanting to entrench constitutional provisions for particular or special rights as being promulgated.

In 2006, New Zealand Federation Multicultural Councils (NZFMC) developed an outline of a proposed Multiculturalism Act which we have since been advocating to be adopted by the Government. The proposed legislation and framework are intended to provide a basis for a legislative environment and plan of action for government, community and businesses in New Zealand that fully recognises the multicultural make-up of our society.

Since August 7th 2008, when the Multicultural Bill was debated in Parliament, the New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils (NZFMC) have been promoting and enriching individuals, ethnic and mainstream communities the benefits of a Multicultural New Zealand. This will ensure that every individual is equal; the history and heritage of all ethnicities are nurtured and protected equally; and all social, cultural, economic and political institutions are assisted in adopting an inclusive approach in their endeavours.

More so, it enables New Zealand to position itself as an innovative, peaceful nation and as a good global citizen, as is Canada and New South Wales, Australia where Multiculturalism has been successfully implemented.

Therefore, NZFMC welcomes the Office of Ethnic Affairs briefing report to its incoming Minister Judith Collins. It is pleasing to see that the Office is listening and is in touch with the minority ethnic communities’ needs. We look forward to working with the Office of Ethnic Affairs in building the capability of Ethnic and migrant Communities to participate effectively in any constitutional review process.

The Human Rights Commission’s Annual review of Racial Discrimination report released on the 10 February 2012 justified NZFMC’s calls for a Multicultural Legislation. The report found Asians were named by 75 per cent of respondents as the most discriminated against group in New Zealand. This figure has remained relatively unchanged in the past five years and does not portray New Zealand well in the world.

It is imperative for us to actively focus on inclusion of all Ethnic Communities in all aspects of life to break down discrimination especially among Asian New Zealanders who are the fastest grouping community and the fourth major ethnic groups after European, Maori, and Pacific Islanders. Adopting Multicultural Legislation by the Government will be a big step to addressing the issue of discrimination in our society. It will provide frameworks and benchmarks for societal norms.

In conclusion, NZFMC is neither advocating nor interested in entrenching special rights of a particular ethnic people or society, or a role in the constitution for Marae justice, Islamic or Jewish law as reported in some quarters. The draft NZFMC outline of a Multiculturalism Act recognises the special status of Maori as Tangata Whenua and their special rights under the Treaty of Waitangi.

As a pan-ethnic organisation, New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils will continue to promote and build capacity in our communities to fully participate and be valued both socially and economically within our society.

For further information visit www.nzfmc.org.nz


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