Eid Mubarak.

Ramadan came to an end on the evening of 14 June, signalling the start of Eid ul-Fitr. This time of year is particularly special for our Muslim communities, and it’s a good opportunity to acknowledge the Muslim New Zealanders who have made Aotearoa their home.

The Eid ul-Fitr celebration I hosted in Parliament was a wonderful occasion, and a formal opportunity for such acknowledgement. I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating this joyous time with our Muslim brothers and sisters.

I admire the deep sense of empathy at the heart of the Muslim custom of fasting at Ramadan. Fasting is not only an act of self-discipline but is also an act of compassion, to put ourselves in another’s shoes and consider the world from their perspective. And in a country such as ours with our remarkable diversity, empathy is a crucial value we share.

Celebrating Tonga Independence Day on 4 June reminded me of my journey from Tonga to New Zealand as a teenager, and the importance of holding on to those precious traditions and customs that make each of us who we are.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List was released this month, and I was delighted to see a number of people – mostly from ethnic backgrounds themselves – acknowledged for the outstanding work they do with ethnic communities across Aotearoa. Congratulations to the honourees.

I know much of the work done within our ethnic communities happens without fanfare or reward. But our unsung heroes should equally be acknowledged and celebrated. And so, my sincerest thanks to all of you who work tirelessly to make our communities safer, more welcoming places.

The Ministry of Education is currently undertaking a Review of NCEA. There are a number of workshops taking place across New Zealand in the coming months. Please do take this opportunity to offer your feedback, and help shape our education system so that it reflects the experiences and needs of all New Zealanders.

Finally, on 20 June, we observed World Refugee Day. I urge you to honour the strength and courage of all those across the world who are forced to flee their homes and rebuild their lives in new places.

Mālō 'aupito.

Hon Jenny Salesa
Minister for Ethnic Communities

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