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Director's Message

The Office of Ethnic Affairs' Director - Mervin Singham

Kia ora and welcome to the Office of Ethnic Affairs

Ethnic communities are growing in both size and diversity as New Zealand becomes a vibrant multicultural nation. Today, more than 10 percent of New Zealanders identify with ethnic groups other than Maori, Pacific Island or Anglo Celtic.

The world is recovering from an economic recession. We live in a rapidly changing and globalised world where our destiny is increasingly dependent on economic, social, cultural and political connections with other parts of the globe. New Zealand is paving the way into the future by developing stronger connections with other countries, particularly the growing economies of Asia. Ethnic communities have connections, skills and cultural knowledge that are vital to our growing relationships with other jurisdictions. There has never been a better time to ensure that we draw upon New Zealand’s ethnic diversity to maximise our opportunities for peace, growth and prosperity.

To achieve these goals, we must first truly cherish our diversity. Genuine respect for cultural difference is important. Without it, we only have superficial tolerance for diversity rather than meaningful responses to it. Secondly, we must develop strong connections between people of diverse backgrounds. It is these human connections that create strong communities, like a rich tapestry of different threads that have been tightly woven together. Finally, we must ensure we have the intercultural skills to ensure we can negotiate our way through cultural differences in a peaceful way and in a manner that enables people to put forward new and different ways of doing things. Everyone in New Zealand can play a role in doing these things. If we take these steps, we will generate innovation, enterprise and positive change. We will also build a harmonious society that makes New Zealand a great place to live in.

These three elements of respect, connection and intercultural skills, form the foundation stones for the work of the Office of Ethnic Affairs. I hope the website will stimulate thought, trigger discussion and help you take a full part in growing a harmonious and savvy New Zealand. We can all make a contribution.

Mervin Singham
Director, Office of Ethnic Affairs