World Cup inaugural betrays cultural plurality

I am a proud New Zealander like our Governor General, Prime Minister and members of the New Zealand Rugby Union. I would not dream of anything other than an All Black triumph in the final match in October at the same venue.

There were moments of pride during the Opening Ceremony that we were a unique country. The technology, the conch, the drums, the karanga, the hakas, the sails, the Canterbury tee-shirt, the wakas were just a few features that reflected those moments of pride.

As the ceremony progressed, I began to feel that there was something missing.

The penny dropped when the commentator said something about “this country being multicultural” but instantly moved on to another topic.

We (largely politicians and agencies) profess loudly that we are a multicultural country but significantly fell short of the ideal at the inaugural.

In my view, there are two sides to the coin.

Head – the organisers were not able to reach the migrant and refugee communities that make up nearly a fifth of New Zealand’s population.

Tail- these migrant and refugee communities have not been resourced and inducted adequately into engaging strongly with the organisers.

Missed colours

I missed the African Drums, the Chinese Lion Dance, the Indian Bhangra and the South American Champeta, to mention a few. If one needs to be biased to the male dominated sport that Rugby is, then it is still reasonable to think that these ethnic items are equally masculine and may have suited the convenience of the organisers if they had chosen to look closer into the real New Zealand.

Tangata Whenua welcome these cultures through the Treaty of Waitangi.

In all instances, these emerging communities continue to respect Tangata Whenua as the first people of this country.

Lip Service

It is sad that Rugby as a sport still remains entrenched in colonial values with its inability to open up and reach out to the new generation of New Zealanders who are not necessarily from countries that used to be our traditional sources of immigrants.

Continuing to promote New Zealand as a multicultural society without a real cultural infrastructure is tokenism.

This infrastructure cannot simply be built simply on goodwill.

It requires visibility and proper framework for inclusion at all levels.

With diversity comes innovation and let us practice it as a nation.

For a start, it would not be unreasonable to ask that our multiculturalism be exhibited in the Closing Ceremony of the Rugby World Cup.

Pancha Narayanan is an advocate of multiculturalism. He is the Past President of the Wellington based New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils and a Member of the Community Sector Taskforce.

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