THE IDEAL MULTI-ETHNIC INCLUSIVE SOCIETY
In my role as an advisory trustee I am currently involved in a project that is designed to address challenges facing New Zealand with a small native population to assimilate a growing number of migrants, who have been attracted to here with the promise of ready employment and access to public services that are unheard of in many of their home countries.
Unbeknown to many of us, we (and I include myself as a Kiwi by adoption) are perceived as unwelcoming by many newcomers. This perception has resulted in the formation of numerous ethnic community organisations, whose members find comfort and kinship associating with their own kind in social activities and choice of residence.
With evidence of the negative effects of ethnic segregation in many overseas territories the NZ Association Resource Centre Trust in consultation with the office of Ethnic Affairs of the Department of Internal Affairs has identified voluntary membership associations as an ideal platform for the social integration of migrants, The reasoning behind this approach is that many such membership based entities are in decline with aging constituents and mounting operational costs that make them untenable.
Tapping into their desire to connect with New Zealanders in areas of common interest, assisted by comparable skills and knowledge language proficiency no longer is of major importance. This overcomes one of the principal barriers in employment generation where the ability to communicate effectively and local work experience are held out as hindrances to engagement. Enabling this association in common pursuits also builds confidence in the abilities of the new arrival that can lead to exposure in a widened social network to provide introduction to prospective employers and business opportunities.
Churches are an ideal spawning ground for such constructive interaction with the added benefit of learning more about different cultures and customs. Our congregation on a small scale is a good example of this with the prospect to broaden its multi cultural component. Recent additions are encouraging and must be built on to achieve the growth in numbers on which our future viability depends.
To be part of the new initiative will have benefits both ways and at the same time draw on the foreign knowledge of many of our members, who have travelled far.