Ethnic communities deserve better status

Aucklanders fully realise and appreciate the growing ethnic diversity of our city and the region. The same can be said of Hamilton, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.

This diversification is now touching many more New Zealand families than ever before. Those most intimately engaged in and affected by this diversification expect to play a much more significant role in every aspect of the New Zealand society as they contemplate the future for their children and grandchildren.

For over 45 years I have been engaged in this diversification – as a student, parent, professional, Race Relations Conciliator and Chief Families Commissioner.

Every day I celebrate the benefits of this diversification and understand the ambitions and aspirations of these communities.

Therefore, it was a matter of considerable pride and satisfaction when the Leader of the Labour Party Phil Goff recently appointed me the Spokesperson for Ethnic Affairs, a position that has been held by a member of an ethnic community for the first time in the Labour Party.

Labour has a proud and consistent record going back to the mid-1980s in shaping New Zealand’s diversification.

Look East Policy

It was Labour’s policy of radically changing from a preference for immigration from Britain, Europe and South Africa to a policy based on merit, regardless of the country of origin that has resulted in our present day diversified society.

This policy has also given New Zealand a much stronger economic and social foothold in Asia and the Pacific than was previously the case.

Labour has a strong affinity with and appreciation for our ethnic diversification and is committed to bringing forward new policies and programmes for the next 25 years. These will be announced for the elections later this year.

I am privileged to be leading and coordinating this new impetus with my caucus colleagues Raymond Hua and Dr Ashraf Choudhary, both of who are committed to the same ideals that Labour has championed for the past 25 years.

Ethnic communities including our refugee communities are ambitious about their future, and their families as New Zealanders.

Meaningful Participation

While New Zealanders enjoy many aspects of ethnic communities including their colour, vibrancy and choices in cuisine, ethnic communities are now demanding more meaningful participation.

It will be my job to ensure that Labour captures this mood and campaigns with policies that respond to them effectively.

New Zealand is enriched by the contribution of its ethnic communities.

However, the promise and potential are far greater than what has been realised so far. There are still many areas in which our ethnic communities do not feature prominently.

Ethnic communities are interested in every aspect of New Zealand life and the time has come for them to shine even more brightly than has been the case so far.

It will be my job to focus on this intensively and I look forward to quickening the pace that election year brings.

Labour’s commitment to our ethnic communities has been historically strong.

However, we also need to focus on other New Zealanders and the mutual impact we have on each other to create a vibrant, rich and mutually satisfying society that we can bequeath to future generations.

I am committed to this goal and to teasing out the details as this year progresses.

This is a promising time to be in New Zealand and to engage in shaping it for tomorrow. At Labour, we want to take this aspect of our society to the next development level that will make it the leading example of diversity, participation, and inclusion.

I hope to discuss these plans progressively through Indian Newslink this year.

Dr Rajen Prasad is Member of Parliament on Labour List and the Party’s Ethnic Affairs Spokesperson.

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