When Eric Chuah left his job as Head of Migrant Banking at ANZ Bank to establish ‘Cultural Connections’ (Indian Newslink, March 1, 2017), his commitment was distinct and determined: intrinsic engagement with migrant communities, conduct research and enhance the social value and standards of all New Zealanders.
A tall order it seemed, but less than three months later, having established his ‘connections’ well, Mr Chuah is ready for bigger things.
Cultural Connections Research
He has just launched his Social Research Programme jointly with Multicultural New Zealand (also called New Zealand Multicultural Council) to prepare a detailed study that will articulate the role of the government, public and private sector companies, community organisations, media and individuals. Such an interaction, he believes, will lead towards an inclusive Multicultural New Zealand, “regardless of whether a person is a migrant or a born in the country.” What matters is that ‘New Zealander’ would embrace every person resident here as a part of a wholesome society.
“The objective is to deliver a positive tone and forward thinking about multiculturalism,” he said.
The starting point of Mr Chuah’s research was a document published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) in 2015, which said that 1 out of 3 Kiwis felt that migrants were not properly integrated into the socio-economic fabric.
“While the Report captures a snapshot of migration interaction from a friendship and cultural festival perspective, it did not expand further to understand how integration gap can be addressed,” he said.
The Challenge and Effect
In that sense, the ‘Cultural Connections Social Research 2’ would address the challenge of finding ways of achieving a more meaningful integration if the benefits of immigration and the resultant multiculturalism are to be optimised.
“My Research aims to understand Migrants’ working life – current employment and satisfaction with their job; their sense of belonging to New Zealand; their overall satisfaction with living in New Zealand; and their sense of being treated fairly by employers and by the country in general,” Mr Chuah said.
The Social Research Programme of Cultural Connections will also attempt to measure the attitudes of ‘New Zealanders’ to migrants.
It would present the findings from a Migrant survey designed to measure migrants’ settlement experiences. In particular, the research aims to understand awareness, knowledge and community perceptions of migrants, including (a) Overall attitudes towards migrants and migration (b) Specific differences in attitudes towards migrants from different countries (c) Attitudes surrounding migrant numbers (d) The contribution of migrants to New Zealand’s productivity, culture and society.
“In recent times, particularly leading up to election, certain politicians are sensationalising racial cards to gain relevance, attention, and ultimately win votes. Whilst there are other research papers dating from 2005 on social cohesion, they tend to centre around high level public policies, snapshot at that point in time, and do not outline actionable insights. They are also quite broad and cover other diversity groups such as LGBTI and disability groups,” Mr Chuah said.
Mr Chuah has asked us to outline the role of the media in the process of integration of people for multiculturalism to succeed.
He said that the media follows several means to build a multicultural New Zealand. These include (1) regular cultural segment such as food, music, travel and events (2) educating readers on cultural learning (3) organising cultural events (4) Online forum discussions and (5) Cultural research and surveys.
We will offer assistance and support his research
Indian Newslink believes that efforts to achieve true integration of communities and establish an effective multicultural society should adopt some norms, at the beginning of which is the definition of the term, ‘migrant.’ As Mr Chuah rightly pointed out, a ‘migrant’ is a person born overseas and is now a permanent resident or citizen of New Zealand. Their children should not carry the ‘migrant’ tab, rather the term, ‘Kiwi,’ which currently denotes, erroneously though, people of European origin.
Mr Chuah’s new research would hopefully lead to everyone grouped under nationalism and not ethnonym.