The Challenges of Ethnic Diversity
A few Sundays back, our Minister made reference to the changing face of our New Zealand that is particularly noticeable in Auckland and how we can take advantage of the ethnic mix.
On a visit to Melbourne at the end of last October Rosemarie and I visited a massive shopping mall in the eastern suburbs instead of attending church. I noticed and remarked that during our 90 minute window shopping spree I had encountered three Orientals and one African. What it amounted to was that I missed the multicultural vibrancy of our largest city.
According to recent estimates 43% of our citizens will be foreign born by 2021 with a corresponding demand on housing, education and social services.
I attended two significant Conferences on two successive Saturdays that were fully devoted to the challenges inherent in accommodating the needs and aspirations of our new settlers. Employment and acceptance by our traditional Maori-Anglo-Saxon-Celtic population figured high on the wish list. At both events was a strong representation of young adults from diverse national and cultural backgrounds. In separate sessions we were presented with future leaders from this sector, who gave a good account of themselves.
This made me very much aware of the changing dynamics in our society and the challenges it presents in terms of integration and assimilation. It also reminded me of my first arrival in New Zealand and the help I received to enable me to slot with relative ease into the local community. Much of this I attribute to my own initiative to join clubs and associations that catered for my special interests, a strategy that I have recommended to other migrants from Southern Africa, who have followed in my wake.
I always make the point in response to allegations of racism that discrimination in this country is based not on the way you look, but you are judged on your mastery of the English language as it is practised by native speakers. This usually is the benchmark that enables entry into employment. Successful networking can overcome language deficiencies and joining common interest voluntary organisations are the gateway to acceptance. Faith based institutions can play a meaningful role in this process depending on their ability to be welcoming and understanding. Where younger worshippers are concerned we are at a distinct disadvantage. Migrants of child rearing age are eager to connect with their own kind for social interaction and are more inclined to gravity towards denominations with congregations that are indicative of a youth culture. However, there is also a demand for mentoring from age related role models, who made the transition to acceptance and are able to guide newcomers in need of assistance. We have a few younger ladies in our community, who fit this description. I invite expressions of interest to assist in a project that is currently under consideration.