Cultural plurality challenges traditional values

Are interracial marriages in consonance with the changing face of our society? Do they run antithetical to the penchant of people who are keen on preserving their culture and heritage?

How far should religious tolerance extend at the workplace? Should individuals have the freedom to ‘look and dress’ according to their religious and cultural beliefs?

Should owners and managers of companies revisit their corporate culture to keep pace with the evolving trends in our communities?

How can a small country like New Zealand cope with the growing multicultural and pluralistic society?

These and many other questions will be asked and perhaps answered by the speakers and participants at a Conference of the Women’s Forum of the New Zealand Indian Central Association (NZICA) scheduled to be held at the Ellerslie Convention Centre in Auckland on February 15, 2014.

The Conference, second in an annual series has ‘Colour & Spice’ as its central theme this year.

Judith Collins

Ethnic Affairs Minister Judith Collins will inaugurate the Conference at 8 am, recounting her personal experience as a young bride of European descent when she married David Wong Tung, a part-Samoan. Her married life is an example of understanding, love and respect for each other.

Mr Tung is reported to have realigned his priorities to enable his wife to fulfil her political ambitions.

Edwina Pio

AUT Professor of Diversity Edwina Pio is the keynote speaker. An expert in multiculturalism, she has received media attention for her research and her role as an ethnic minority educator in one of New Zealand’s most contemporary universities.

Reviewing her book, ‘Sari: Indian women at work in New Zealand,’ in our May 1, 2008 issue, we had written that Dr Pio was keen to explode the myth that Indian women in New Zealand were just homemakers and at the most seen behind counters in dairies and the ubiquitous convenient stores; that they do not speak English and are a mere chattel of their all-powerful husbands.

Women’s Champion

Embodying her passion for interdisciplinary scholarship, her current emphasis is on ethnic entrepreneurship, migrant women at work in New Zealand and Eastern epistemologies for Western management.

Her interests also pervade ethnic studies, migrant women at work (employees and entrepreneurs), spiritual capital (particularly Eastern perspectives), human resources management and labour intensive organisations in developing countries.

Her accolades include the Duke of Edinburgh Fellowship, Research Fellowships at Boston College and at Jonkoping International Business School, Sweden.

She is on the Board of the Australia New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM), the MPhil/PhD Committee of the Business School at AUT University, and till recently served as a Board member of Home & Family Counselling, Auckland. She works with women and children of domestic violence on a voluntary basis and is registered with the New Zealand Association of Counsellors. She is currently completing another book.

Interactive workshops

Women’s Forum Chairperson Ranjna Patel said that the one-day Conference will provide ample opportunities for participants to voice their opinions on issues of relevance and be ambassadors of change.

“The programme will include interactive workshops with colourful occupations derived from passion. New Zealand women have proved their expertise in almost every field of their involvement, ranging from politics, law, medicine, engineering, entrepreneurial ventures, photography and many other vocations. As well as conducting cooking classes, they have excelled in their role as even law enforcement and Corrections Officers. We need to encourage more women to contribute to the progress of New Zealand and wellbeing of all New Zealanders,” she said.

Mrs Patel said that the Conference will be enlightening for the young and the old and that the perspectives of infusion of culture and religion will prove to be an invaluable insight into the country’s multicultural society.

Details of the Registration fee for the Conference are as follows:

Members $50 and Non-Members $55 per person

Conference Dinner: Members $45 and Non-Members $50 per person

Further details can be obtained from

The picture here shows Judith Collins with (from left) Gurpreet Kaur, Gina Dellabraca, Pritam Singh, Ranjna Patel, Mona Bhana, Hansa Naran, Damanjit Bains and Champa Patel at the Conference held in Rotorua on April 6, 2013.

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