The Christchurch Multicultural Council joined with guests to mark 30 years in Christchurch city

Celebrating united diversity

by Ann van Engelen

Members of the Christchurch Multicultural Council marked 30 years of helping migrants and former refugees to achieve better outcomes while settling into their respective communities across the region recently.

“For the last 30 years, CMC has been providing advocacy to migrants and community groups for settlement and integration while celebrating diversity and strengthening diverse communities,” says Christchurch Multicultural Council president Surinder Tandon.

“We foster unity in diversity, promote social inclusion, equality, integration and respect in diversity. The group encourages migrants for greater civic participation and lobby for greater ethnic representation on boards and trusts. We have been collaborating with several service partners and community groups for achieving tangible outcomes for the wider society.

Despite the major earthquakes, the related damage to the city, and the terror attacks of March 15, a large number of migrants and international students are still coming to the city as it treads towards full recovery.

“The time after the attacks showed us our strong united diversity and harmony, which brought out immense solidarity, compassion, love and empathy from people of diverse cultures and faiths. Christchurch and city council is leading the fostering of diversity and multiculturalism nationally.

It is a role model in terms of its work on diversity. We need to keep fostering diversity for enriching harmonious relations, and respect and love for one another’s cultures and faiths, and to reap the social, cultural and economic benefits of the greater Christchurch’s rich diversity.

“Christchurch is a beautiful multicultural city and represents more than 170 ethnicities. Migrants contribute to our society in every field — public service, business, industry hospitality, science and education. We enjoyed celebrating together and look forward to more community interaction in the future.”

Mr Pancha Narayanan, president of NZ Federation of Multicultural Councils Inc, acknowledged the forebears of Christchurch including professor Kuan Goh, Dame Grace Hollander, Jim Fraser and others for their pioneering efforts.

“I also acknowledge our Life Member of MNZ and past president Weng Kei Chen. These are our stalwarts who built not only the Christchurch Multicultural Council but also Multicultural New Zealand.

“CMC was one of our very first multicultural councils then called Ethnic Council in NZ. Without their efforts, I am not sure we would have gotten to where we are today.”

Councillor Jimmy Chen says: “President Surinder Tandon’s outstanding leadership fosters the cultural diversity in Christchurch. I was delighted to attend the event with the minister Christchurch East MP Hon Poto Williams, Christchurch Central MP Dr Duncan Webb, Cr Anne Galloway and other dignitaries.”