Our role

The Ministry for Ethnic Communities is chief advisor to the Government on ethnic diversity and the inclusion of ethnic communities in wider society.

We provide information, advice and services to, and for, ethnic communities in New Zealand and administer funds to support community development and social cohesion.

Our work

In order to deliver on our role as Government’s chief advisor on ethnic communities we look to:

  • Advise on the impact of government policies on ethnic communities and identify opportunities to effect change
  • Improve the responsiveness of the public sector to the needs of ethnic communities
  • Understand from ethnic communities what they need to thrive and communicate this to government
  • Empower ethnic communities to achieve their aspirations

We work with communities, other Government agencies and a range of organisations to effect change in areas critical to the wellbeing of ethnic communities.

The Ministry wants to be a catalyst for change. We want to work in partnership across the system to harness and share knowledge, deliver tangible change for ethnic communities and support communities to be empowered.

Our priorities

To help understand what ethnic communities want the Ministry to focus on, the Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities hosted a series of targeted engagements throughout April and May 2021. Based on the outcomes of that engagement, Cabinet has agreed that the Ministry’s initial priorities are:

  • Promoting the value of diversity and improving the inclusion of ethnic communities in wider society.
  • Ensuring government services are provided equitably and in ways that are accessible for ethnic communities.
  • Improving economic outcomes for ethnic communities, including addressing barriers to employment.
  • Connecting and empowering ethnic community groups.

The summary of what we heard from the Engagements [PDF, 9.8 MB].

Engagement on the Ministry for Ethnic Communities [PDF, 1.4 MB]

Our teams

Senior leadership team

Mervin Singham, Chief Executive

Mr Singham was appointed Executive Director, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions in 2018.

From 2012 to 2018 he held a number of executive leadership roles at the Department of Internal Affairs, including Deputy Chief Executive, Stewardship and Organisational Sustainability and Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy and Governance.

Between 2000 and 2004 he was Chief Mediator at the Human Rights Commission.

He was Complaints Manager at the Office of Race Relations Conciliator from 1997 to 2000.

Mr Singham holds a Master of Laws (1st Class Honours), Auckland University and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of Canterbury.

Anusha Guler, Executive Director Operations

Anusha has been with the organisation since June 2020. Before joining central government, she occupied senior managerial positions with local government authorities across New Zealand. Between October 2019 and June 2020, she was Chief of Staff, Wellington City Council. Anusha leads and manages all the operational activity of the Ministry.


Community Engagement

Our engagement teams are at the heart of the Ministry for Ethnic Communities. Based in the major towns and cities across New Zealand, these teams engage with ethnic communities to identify their perspectives on and needs from government. Our engagement advisors provide community intelligence to help ensure government policy and service development meet people’s needs.

Policy team

This team provides policy advice which is informed by research and analysis, and grounded in community intelligence. The team also provides a central point for developing ministerial briefings and advice, drawing on expertise from across the office, and for providing an ethnic diversity perspective on cross-agency policy and briefings. The team interacts closely with, and draws intelligence from, the Community Engagement and Planning, Systems and Services teams to ensure policy advice is current and informed.

Planning, Systems and Services team

This team oversees business planning, accountability reporting, systems development and maintenance. It also manages and delivers some direct services including the Nominations Service and the Ethnic Communities Development Fund. The team provides the Ministry with administrative support and manages stakeholder engagement channels. It also monitors and reports against the strategic goals and focus areas of our work programme.

Our minister

Our Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities is Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan(external link).

Our history

In December 2020, Cabinet agreed it would establish the Ministry for Ethnic Communities from 1 July 2021.

The seeds of the Ministry were planted in 1995 with the creation of an Ethnic Affairs Desk within DIA. Over the last 26 years, the organisation has slowly grown in size and function.

Click on the link below to see the key milestones in our journey to become a full Ministry.

 History of the Ministry for Ethnic Communities PDF [PDF, 35 KB]


Last modified: