Happy New Year to everyone. I trust you have all had some quality time with family and friends over the summer break.
It is good to be back as Minister for Ethnic Communities and I am looking forward to the challenges and rewards this role brings.
This time of year is always a happy one. It is summer, people are relaxed and energised for the year ahead.
For all of us in our diverse communities, it is also a time to reflect on the events of the year past and look forward to the opportunities 2016 brings.
It is a time of renewal, reflection and positive change.
Already this year I have had the privilege of attending the annual Filipino cultural festival in honour of Senyor Santo Nino. It included an opening mass followed by cultural presentations involving design and festival queen competitions. There was also a fine array of Filipino culinary delights.
There were more than 8000 people celebrating this important Filipino festival.
I am also looking forward to the Lunar New Year and all the festivities and colour this time of year brings.
This is the Year of the Monkey and I will be attending many events around the country, as I do every year, to see in the New Year with our Asian communities.
I recently attended a welcome function for the new Chinese Consul-General to Auckland Madame Xu Erwen. She has more than 30 years’ experience as a diplomat and is our eighth Consul-General to Auckland.
I will look forward to working with her to promote good relations between New Zealand and China.
Alongside the Office of Ethnic Communities, I will be planning ahead for the year, looking at how we can make New Zealand an even more diverse and tolerant society.
It is our priority to ensure that newly arrived migrants are made to feel welcome and are able to settle quickly into their new lives.
Our newer and less well-established ethnic communities will be a focus for me this year and I look forward to opening dialogue that creates positive and better outcomes.