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Minister's Update

Peseta Sam Lotu Iiga

The past month has been all about Lunar New Year celebrations.

From embassy and parliamentary receptions, to smaller events celebrating the culture and heritage of a particular group, one of the stand-out points for me has been language.

I practise my Mandarin, Cantonese  and Teochew before I attend these events so that I can better connect with the people present. People always appreciate a genuine effort to speak a few words of their language.

It has brought into focus the importance of language in our cultures and its value as a marker of our various heritages.
These ideas were reinforced for me when we marked International Mother Tongue Day on 21 February.

Speaking our native languages retains and strengthens our links to our own culture and heritage.

It is important that wherever we may settle, we remain connected to our roots and preserve our beliefs and traditions through our mother tongue.

More than 160 languages are spoken in New Zealand which indicates how diverse we are.

Celebrating these languages and cultures brings our communities together and improves our social harmony.
As Pacific Peoples Minister, I recently announced the dates of the seven Pacific language weeks this year.

My message that if we use Pacific languages more in New Zealand, they will stay alive.

New Zealand is home to many Pacific people but the use of Pacific languages here is in decline.

It is important that our young Pacific people retain that link to their heritage.

Soon I will be launching a set of guidelines which will help other cultural groups set up and promote their own language awareness days.

The Heritage and Community Language Celebrations Guidelines will be a practical resource for our diverse communities who want to celebrate and share their languages, cultures and heritage with the rest of the country.

I am delighted that New Zealand recognises and embraces its cultural diversity and that our ethnic communities want to share their cultures.

Each step we take down this path leads us to a more harmonious and tolerant society our children and their descendants will be a part of and proud of.

And I am proud that as Minister for Ethnic Communities I can help make this happen.

Director's Update

Gong Xi Fa Cai, Kung Hei Fat Choy

Happy Chinese New Year, Happy Lunar New Year and Spring Festival to all

Every year in most parts of New Zealand, we now have the opportunity to enjoy some of the festivities that this annual celebration has to offer. These celebrations are growing larger and more inclusive as all New Zealanders share an appreciation for the traditions and customs of this auspicious season. February also brings us the International Mother Languages Day and there are several activities being held to commemorate this event.

While we celebrate, I am also mindful that February 2016 greets us with a reminder of how Mother Nature can affect change swiftly. My heart goes out to all Cantabrians as well as our neighbours in Fiji in remembrance of how fragile our beautiful country is and indeed, but we remain strong, hopeful and gracious. New Zealanders are known for their humanitarian efforts and I know we all will share support where we can.

The Office of Ethnic Communities continues to facilitate recognition for ethnic communities as positive contributors to the strength and prosperity of New Zealand. There are many ways you can actively participate with us. Look out for our Minister’s imminent launch of the Community and Heritage Languages, attend the Fulbright Forum to be held in Auckland , apply for the Settling In grant. For more information on this, please check out our website.

With so much happening in March we have decided to reschedule the release of the Faces of Our Future report to a later date. We will keep you updated on our website.

Be safe everyone and I hope you’ll enjoy the warmth of summer for as long as it may last.

New Offices for Christchurch

Image of Candy Wu Zhang, Helen Wyn and Deborah Lam around a table in New premises in CHCH

The revitalisation of Christchurch’s CBD is one of the Government’s top priorities for 2016. With this in mind the Department of Internal Affairs along with Statistics NZ, NZ Transport Agency, the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Creative New Zealand, Te Puni Kokiri, EECA and the Human Rights Commission are now all located in the same building.

The building is located at BNZ Centre 120 Hereford Street, near Ballantynes. “A lot of work has gone into designing a modern space that opens up new possibilities for delivering services and interacting with customers. I'm delighted that the Department has worked collaboratively with other agencies to conceptualise and design the space, and that we have also worked right across the Department to make sure that all of our customers are well-served by our people and their new zone,” says Colin MacDonald Chief Executive for the Department of Internal Affairs.

“Our customers might be familiar with the idea of meeting a concierge in a hotel, but having a concierge to help you access government services is probably new to most people. I think it is a fantastic way for us to move ahead, and keep our customer right at the heart of everything we do”.

Candy Wu Zhang from the Office of Ethnic Communities says that it was difficult to say goodbye to Orchard Road, which has been our home for the past 5 years.

“The new building is amazing with the design features, facilities and services available to the public. The building has made our place more than just an office but has generated a sense of ‘home’ where staff can feel comfortable, relaxed and happy to walk in and stay every day. The added advantage of working in a ‘government hub’ demonstrates the trend for providing better services to customers.”

So the next time you need to visit the Office of Ethnic Communities – remember they are in new premises in the CBD.

Photograph: Left to Right - Candy Wu Zhang, Office of Ethnic Communities Christchurch Office, Helen Wyn - Deputy Chief Executive, Department of Internal Affairs, Deborah Lam - Office of Ethnic Communities Christchurch Office

Welcome to the Chinese Year of the Monkey!

Image of the headdress of a performer at the Chinese New Year Celebration

Gong chi far chai shen tee ji-an kang.

Gong hay fat choy shen tay ki-in hong.

May you be happy and prosperous, and to good health.

It’s not just China that celebrates the lunar new year. This festival is also commemorated in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Korea.

Chinese are some of New Zealand’s earliest settlers, arriving here in the 1860s.

There are now over 170,000 people of Chinese heritage living in New Zealand, making Chinese our third largest ethnic group.

We also welcome over 24,000 Chinese students and 335,000 tourists to New Zealand’s shores each year.

We’ve had a diplomatic relationship with China since 1972 and signed a free trade agreement in 2008.

China is now our largest trade partner. Two-way trade surpassed $20 billion in the second quarter of 2015.

Getting to know each other better and sharing our diverse cultures, languages and traditions helps build the prosperous society that we value in New Zealand.

Sources: Statistics New Zealand, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Treasury

TEA – Ahi Karunaharan

Black and White image of Ahi Karunaharan

Ahi Karunaharan, a graduate of the New Zealand Drama School - Toi Whakaari and Victoria University of Wellington, recently discussed his latest work ’TEA’ with Dione Joseph, our Diversity and Inclusion Advisor based in Auckland.

TEA is a sweeping saga that travels over time and continents to weave a tale of legacies, prophecies, love and the world’s most popular beverage.

Ahi’s latest creation directly responds to strengthening community relations, particularly within his native Sri Lankan community. To find out more check out “The Big Idea”.

Treaty of Waitangi - Found in Translation

NZSTI30 Logo

The New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI) has announced the launch of the Treaty Times Thirty project. To celebrate the Society's 30th anniversary, over 90 translators will work together to translate the English and Māori versions of the Treaty of Waitangi into 30 languages and gift them to the people of New Zealand on International Translation Day, 30 September 2016.

Why the Treaty of Waitangi? At the heart of New Zealand's founding document, and of its interpretation, lies translation. As instructed by William Hobson, Henry Williams undertook, with his son's help, to translate into Māori what was to be known as the Treaty of Waitangi. The translation they produced overnight contains a number of key differences in meaning, which have led to divergent interpretations of the English and Māori versions of the Treaty.

The Treaty Times Thirty project highlights the translator's difficult task of re-expressing identical meaning from one language to another. It also reiterates the importance of translation in the New Zealand context, aims to make the Treaty more accessible to migrants who live here, and encourages a better understanding of the Treaty internationally.

The project has received the support of major organisations such as Archives New Zealand, the Office of Ethnic Communities and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. ”The translations of the Treaty of Waitangi in the many languages of our country will add significantly to people’s understanding of New Zealand’s founding agreement,” Treaty expert Dame Claudia Orange says. ”The planned publication is an effective way to mark the organisation’s milestone and its long-standing work.”


NZSTI is the nationally representative body of translators and interpreters. It provides a networking forum for translators and interpreters, represents their interests in New Zealand, and promotes continued professional development, quality standards and awareness of the profession within government agencies and the wider community. For all enquiries, please write to treaty@nzsti.org or contact project spokesperson Stefan Grand-Meyer at 021 062 2946.

Chinese New Settlers Services Trust – Social Housing Building

People bury the Maori blessing stone

Pensioner housing for Asian seniors is one step closer in Auckland. Chinese New Settlers Services Trust (CNSST) along with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment recently had a sod turning ceremony for a 4 level building of 36 rooms to help Chinese and Korean elderly people.

The event was held to bury a Māori blessing stone in the corner of the foundation before construction started on 12 February. Construction is expected to be completed in August 2017. This is the first social housing project in Panmure for CNSST.

“The Ministry of Social Development will assess the eligibility of potential tenants and then refer them to the new centre, ” CNSST Social Enterprise Manager Bill Guan says.

Guest speakers at the sod-turning included the Minister for Ethnic Communities Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities Melissa Lee.

Fulbright Forum: embracing & advancing diversity

Fulbright New Zealand Logo

The people of New Zealand encompass many ethnicities, cultures, sexualities and religions but is that vast diversity reflected at leadership levels? This Fulbright Forum explores the benefits to New Zealand of genuinely embracing and advancing diversity for all people to feel supported and celebrated in their chosen fields.

Hosted by AUT University, the Fulbright Forum will be chaired by New Zealand’s first Professor of Diversity, Dr Edwina Pio. A recognised ethnic minority educator and writer, her research interests encompass the intersections of work, ethnicity, religion and pedagogy.

The panellists are:

  • Dr Edwina Pio, AUT University Professor of Diversity and 2013 Fulbright New Zealand Travel Award grantee (chairing the panel)
  • Dr Michelle Dickinson MNZM, passionate scientist and engineer also known as Nanogirl
  • Ashiq Hamid, Meredith Connell lawyer, 2015 Cleary Memorial Prize winner and 2014 Fulbright Science & Innovation Graduate Award grantee
  • Ghazaleh Golbakhsh, co-founder of Waking Dream Collective dedicated to supporting more diversity on screen and 2011 Fulbright New Zealand General Graduate Award grantee
  • Lincoln Tan, The New Zealand Herald’s Diversity, Ethnic Affairs & Immigration Senior Reporter
  • Natalie Coates (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Hine, Tūhoe, Te Arawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), Kahui Legal solicitor and 2011 Fulbright-Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga Graduate Award grantee.

Refreshments from 6.00pm. Please be seated for a 6.30pm start.


Shanti Niwas emergency housing pilot project

Shanti Niwas Chartiable Trust Logo

Shanti Niwas is happy to announce the opening of Shanti Niwas Emergency Housing.

They will provide emergency shelter for the senior citizens from the Indian and South Asian community who are in an abusive environment, at risk of being abused or in dire need of emergency housing.

The main objective of the shelter is to provide a safe and secure environment to our elders in such situations. Clients will be housed for an initial period of three weeks, with a maximum stay of three months. The initial period of three weeks will be used to provide breathing space for families as well as enable social workers to assess and identify suitable programmes.

For further information check out Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust

Funding Available

Image of a man (sitting) and woman looking over a laptop

We have funding available for not-for-profit groups to run projects aimed at helping refugees and migrant communities settle in to New Zealand society.

You can apply for the funding on our website: ethniccommunities.govt.nz

Applications open on 7 March and close on 31 March 2016

To be eligible you must:

  • be based in the local community or neighbourhood and credible to members of that community
  • be able to contribute to the overall costs (volunteer time and effort are recognised as an organisations contribution)
  • clearly demonstrate what the expected community benefits are and be able to measure how the benefits will be achieved
  • provide up-to-date accounts for your organisation and have legal entity status for grant requests over $10,000
  • meet the Office of Ethnic Communities’ outcomes of collaboration, social action and social interaction.

If you’ve applied for Settling In funding in the past and have been unsuccessful, we encourage you to try again. We’ve made the process simpler and easier to understand.

See our website for details: ethniccommunities.govt.nz
If you have any questions, email us on Settling.In@dia.govt.nz or call us on 0800 824 824.

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