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Whangarei Steps Up To Support Our Ethnic Communities

Press Release – Multi Ethnic Collective

The Multi Ethnic Collective (MEC) celebrate their success in creating a strong platform for the voices of our local ethnic communities to be heard. One year on, this community voluntary advisory group is proving its value to the wider district through collaboration …

The Multi Ethnic Collective (MEC) celebrate their success in creating a strong platform for the voices of our local ethnic communities to be heard. One year on, this community voluntary advisory group is proving its value to the wider district through collaboration with agencies and the community.

The MEC presently comprises 8 volunteer members who meet monthly to provide a strong view from their lived ethnic experiences, concerns, and aspirations of their communities. This invaluable voice supports the 5 partner organisations (“Partners”); Whangarei Police, Whangarei District Council (WDC), Immigration New Zealand (INZ), Ministry for Ethnic Communities, Multicultural Whangarei (MCW) and most importantly the wider ethnic peoples in the district in which they serve.

On 11 August 2021, with much to celebrate, including the 1-year anniversary of MECW, the establishment of the new Ministry for Ethnic Communities and some positive outcomes from their advice to the Partners; the members reflected on the past year and shared kai and cake.

Under the leadership of Chair Ralph Correa, and Deputy Chair Johnny Kumitau, the group has gone from strength to strength. They are now called upon by other agencies and community organisations to educate on diversity and cultural competency, distribute key messages to their wider ethnic communities and provide sound advice. On this success, Ralph sees MEC as “the future of good and valuable communication with community representatives, with partners around the table, and the wider community.

As a result of the five Partners present bi-monthly at meetings, there is a more efficient utilisation of organisational resources. The partners are better consolidating their efforts in response to the needs of the various ethnic communities whose voices are represented in part by the 8 members of MEC. We are heartened by a significant commitment shown by the WDC, as it is in the process of signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry for Ethnic Communities to anchor their partnership in advancing the growth and development of ethnic communities in Whangarei. Both INZ and the Ministry for Ethnic Communities have both employed Northland Representatives, the last year was also an unprecedented time of active engagement by INZ and Ministry for Ethnic Communities with MEC. Within Northland Police, a number of local initiatives are being proposed. From each meeting, little gems of information are communicated to each Partner, the goal being to promote greater inclusivity of ethnic communities in the Partners’ strategic planning, policies, processes, and services.

MEC members were delighted to be approached by the Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan for a visit. Unfortunately, this was cancelled due to the recent lockdowns. The members welcome her to Northland with open arms, when lockdowns are lifted.

The Partners acknowledge the members of MECW for their time and commitment to improve outcomes and experiences of the Partners’ services, highlighting the intangible benefits and strengthened relationships by working together. Suman Rattan, a MECW member, states emphatically, “I’m an agent for facilitating positive change”. Rob Huys, Whangārei Police’s representative to the MECW, observes that “the Multi-Ethnic Collective is starting to join our community together in the best possible way.”

What sets this rōpū, this ohu apart is the safe space it provides for sharing of what can be traumatic experiences for our ethnic communities. A big focus of the year has been gaining trust between members and the organisations to create unified communities beyond racial and cultural differences. The MECW was established as one of the means to improve communication and nurture cross-cultural relationships in Northland, following the aftermath of the Christchurch Mosque shootings in March 2019. Group member Eva Corne considers the MECW to be “the safest and supportive group for our ethnic community in Whangarei”.

The MECW is looking to increase its membership to further reach and engage ethnic people in Whangarei. For more information on the MECW, including an expression of interest for membership and contact details, please see the following link: https://multiculturalwhangarei.co.nz/services/multi-ethnic-collective

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