New Zealand’s international standing as a community that encourages and fosters all cultures will be bolstered under a Labour Government with an upgrade of the present Office of Ethnic Affairs to a Ministry.
Releasing Labour’s Ethnic Affairs policy, spokesperson Phil Goff said it will enable the growing ethnic communities in New Zealand to be better heard and their needs to be taken into account in the policy process.
“It will mean ethnic communities will be treated in the same way as Maori and Pacific island communities who have their own Ministries.
“The Ministry of Ethnic Affairs will allow better consultation and recognition of the challenges facing ethnic communities. It will assist in the development of better policies and services.
“The latest census figures showed a continuing increase in the number of New Zealanders of Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and other ethnicities. The Ministry will play an important role in ensuring their effective settlement, integration and participation.
“We will have regard to the recommendations of the Auditor-General to Immigration New Zealand on how to better co-ordinate and target support services so that it can more effectively and efficiently support new migrants.
“Labour will also improve services for the refugee and migrant communities to promote fluency in English, through strengthening support and increasing funding for Adult and Community Education (ACE) and to English for Speakers for Other Languages (ESOL) classes, which have been cut back.
“It is equally important for the communities, including the Pasifika community, to be able to retain their heritage language and, through it, their culture. Our objective is that every child in the country will have the opportunity to be fluent in a second language of their choice.
“New Zealand is for the most part a tolerant and harmonious society where people of all races and religious backgrounds are shown respect. However discriminatory practices are exposed from time to time and we need to ensure that these are swiftly addressed and remedied.
“Labour wants a New Zealand community where every individual and family can achieve, make a good life for themselves and contribute to their new home,” Phil Goff said.