Throughout April and May the Office of Ethnic Affairs hosted its annual EthnicA conferences in Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton and Auckland. The conferences bring together diverse cultures, community groups and organisations to share ideas and experiences, encourage debate on diversity issues, and inspire new ways of thinking. Over 500 people attended the events, including three trustees of the New Zealand Association Resource Centre trust and a member of its advisory panel, who attended the Auckland conference on the 24th of May, 2014.

A culturally-diverse range of presenters spoke at the event on their experiences and success of ‘walking two worlds’ – how they adopted an additional ethnic identity without sacrificing their own identities. Speakers included prominent New Zealanders such as dermatological surgeon and author Dr Sharad Paul, lawyer Lyn Lim, and Michelle Kong, general manager of strategy at Telecom. Key themes throughout the conference this year included celebrating diversity, and identifying and working with potential leaders in New Zealand’s ethnic community. Speakers generally agreed that in order to be accepted and successful in a professional sense in a new country, it was essential to develop social contacts with access to, and participation in, local community networks.

One of the highlights of the conference was a sequence of four presentations from young leaders who have participated in the Office of Ethnic Affairs’ newly launched youth leadership programmer to groom Tomorrow’s Ethnic Leaders in Government, came from Chinese, Indian, African and Korean backgrounds, and were well received. They spoke of their achievements in their chosen careers to date in Pecha Kucha presentation style – a Japanese presentation style that features a graphic visual form of presentation which depends on considerable creative input from the participants.
Overall the conference brought together members of a range of ethnic communities as an opportunity to share experiences and meet others. It continues to serve as a good source of information on our increasing multi ethnic communities, their aspirations and needs to assimilate into mainstream New Zealand society. With an expected immigration inflow of up to 38,000 into New Zealand over the next twelve months, events such as EthnicA are increasingly important for our multicultural society.