This report summarises the findings of the ‘Connecting Diverse Communities’ public engagement process. This process involved fifteen meetings held throughout New Zealand between August and November 2007, followed by a written survey that was sent to relevant organisations and available publicly. The majority of this report summarises the feedback received at the community meetings, while the responses from the survey can be found at Appendix 4.
The meetings were organised by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and the Office of Ethnic Affairs (OEA) and were held in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin. More than 500 people attended the meetings in total. The key objectives of the meetings were:
- to engage with representatives of diverse communities around New Zealand (including ethnic and religious communities, iwi/hapū/Māori, Pākehā and Pacific Island peoples) as well as members of different communities including youth, the elderly, people with disabilities and people with different sexual orientations
- to seek participants’ views on what more could be done to strengthen relations between diverse communities in New Zealand, and to prevent increasing ethnic and religious diversity in New Zealand becoming a catalyst for the kinds of negative events that have taken place recently in other countries (such as the Cronulla riots in Australia).
This public engagement process built on other government work within the Connecting Diverse Communities (CDC) project to enhance social cohesion. The CDC project was started in early 2006 in response to New Zealand’s increasing ethnic, cultural and religious diversity along with concerns about the potential impacts of ethnic and religious division on New Zealand. The project is concerned with relations between all groups, including recent immigrants, Māori, Pacific Island communities, Pākehā and other ethnic communities.
This report brings together participants’ views on what social cohesion is, what can be done to enhance it, and the degree to which diverse communities currently connect with each other. Participants shared their views on what is happening in their regions, what does and doesn’t work in their view, and what more could be done. This report captures a rich collection of material and suggestions from across the country.
The information shared with officials through this process and the suggestions made by participants are being fed into the CDC work programme and reported to Government Ministers for consideration to support development of a cohesive New Zealand society. The material here presents a good opportunity for many government agencies to read and assess views expressed in the public meetings, and to respond appropriately. For example, there are many instances in which comments made indicate a lack of awareness of activities or programmes sponsored by government that are already in place. Part of the appropriate response could involve improving communication with key stakeholders and the general public.
This report summarises the findings of the ‘Connecting Diverse Communities’ public engagement process. This process involved fifteen meetings held throughout New Zealand between August and November 2007, followed by a written survey that was sent to relevant organisations and available publicly.
In summary, participants generally argued for further integrating and ‘fusing’ the interests of the diverse communities within the larger New Zealand community, without eroding each community’s sense of identity in that process.