Our first conference
Communities told us they want to belong, contribute and to be seen as contributors to Aotearoa New Zealand’s growth. It is our hope these conferences go some way to achieve this vision by offering a platform to build social cohesion and inclusion by connecting ethnic communities and bringing them together with government, service providers and other organisations.
The conferences aim to create a space for people to share their perspectives, to strengthen relationships, celebrate and raise any concerns.
The first Ethnic Communities conference was held in Ōtepoti Dunedin on 5 November 2022. People from throughout Otago, Southland and as far south as Rakiura Stewart Island travelled to be there.
They talked about issues important to them, laughed over kai, and listened to several speakers discuss topics ranging from health equity, how to prepare funding applications, and issues relating to the Rainbow community.
Watch some of the highlights from the day.
Speeches & performances
Keynote speaker Richard Joseph, QSM, Cedars of Lebanon President, spoke about the shared challenges many immigrants have faced. He spoke of how important it is for communities to work together to overcome these challenges. He used the metaphor of an orchestra to describe Aotearoa's ethnic communities.
"If you use the metaphor of an orchestra to think of your communities, an orchestra comprises many parts, all of which create an agreed sound. Each member plays her or his unique instrument; they're all playing off the same music sheet; they have to listen out to other members' instruments; together they play a harmony to create a beautiful sound that no one member could achieve on their own. The orchestra is greater than the sum of its parts, and no one part defines the orchestra, just as no one community defines a country. We are one."
Richard Joseph, QSM, Cedars of Lebanon President
Faith Sefo-Leger, the Race Unity Speech Awards Hedi Moani Memorial Award for Advocacy winner, presented her speech to the audience, which ended with a standing ovation. Faith's speech is about how New Zealand's history has impacted modern-day racism, and why it's important to use this to progress forward and the steps needed to get there.
Watch Faith present her Race Unity Awards speech.
Other speakers included MC and comedian Tarun Mohanbhai, Refugee Health Southern DHB Programme Manager Wesley Bachur, Hustle Group Managing Director Anton Matthews, Adhikar Aotearoa founder Vinod Bal and Te Aka Whai Ora, Māori Health Authority Chief Executive Riana Manuel.
Watch a highlight clip of the plenary session For Health's Sake.
A comedy routine by MC Tarun Mohanbhai and cultural performances by Kadodo Music Drum & Dance, Colombian Latin Dance and O-Taiko Drum groups set the tone for a lively and energised day.
Southland and Otago communities asked to be included in these conversations and to not be overlooked. We listened and thought Dunedin was a fantastic place to hold our first Ethnic Advantage conference – after all, it is predicted that by 2023, 10% of the city’s population will identify as being Asian alone, and that is expected to rise to 14% by 2038.
Overall, participants told us they were grateful for an opportunity to connect with other diverse ethnic groups, to celebrate their culture and to have a platform for important kōrero to take place.
“It was a meaningful event and provided an opportunity for us to learn and to reflect. It also brought the people from different ethnicities together to share our common experiences in Aotearoa NZ”
Xiaoyan Mu, Vice-President, Otago and Southland Chinese Association
The Dunedin conference was the first of our Ethnic Advantage conferences for 2022 to 2023. Our second conference was held in Ōtautahi Christchurch in December, and our third conference will be held in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland in the first half of 2023.