Auckland’s ethnic diversity

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One of the more pleasurable jobs I have as a Local Board member is to attend citizenship ceremonies. The Waitakere ceremonies are very well put together. They are held in the old Waitakere City Council chamber. Candidates and their families are invited to attend.

The ceremony starts off with a traditional Karakia and Waiata. Kaumatua Fred Holloway has officiated over more ceremonies than just about anyone can remember. Henderson Massey chair Vanessa Neeson also regularly attends.

The Waiata is sung either by a group of Council employees who give up their spare time to attend or a local cultural group assist.

Then the 200 or so candidates for citizenship are invited to take either the oath or affirmation of allegiance. After this they are invited to the front of the room, presented with their citizenship certificates and us elected people and Fred get to shake their hand.

Following this there is a quite enlightening short video prepared by Internal Affairs and featuring Peter Dunne which concludes with the statement that New Zealand has many peoples but only one citizenship and that until that day New Zealand was home for the candidates, but now it is also their country.

The ceremonies conclude by the announcement of the countries from where the candidates originated. And the list is always impressive. From 20 to 30 countries around the world people have come to New Zealand to make it their home.

And New Zealand has become incredibly diverse. In Auckland almost a quarter of residents are Asian and an astounding 39% of usual residents were born overseas. Approximately 15% are Pacifica and around one in ten are Maori.

Out west there is quite a difference in the different Local Board areas. In Whau 35% of the population is Asian and 18% Pacific, and 42% of the population were born overseas. In Henderson-Massey 34% were born overseas, 19% are Pacific, 17% Asian and 16% are Maori. The Waitakere Ranges Local Board is more monocultural with 79% being European, 11% Maori, 11% Pacific and only 10% are Asian. Only 28% were born overseas.

But we have all learned to acknowledge those common characteristics that we share as well as celebrate our diversity.  And we are the third most diverse city in the world, ahead of traditional powerhouse melting pots London and New York.  Only Dubai, Brussels and Toronto are ahead of us.

And in terms of quality of resettlement the 2015 World Migration Report from the International Organisation for Migration rates Auckland’s efforts highly.

The study found Auckland was doing well in settling migrants, and was recognised as one of the cities that was “paying increasing attention” to the role that migrants play.The report said these cities were “attempting to create an opportunity structure for natives and newcomers alike through partnerships with migrants, the private sector and civil society”.

And if you want the chance to enjoy the benefits of our multicultural nature you can do no better than attend the Annual Pacifica Celebration …

Pacifica-30

or the annual Holi festival …

Holi festival

which are that good that even the Police join in.

We have something special in Auckland.  I hope we always keep it this way.

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