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Christchurch City Council Media Release 20 March 2002

Focus On City’s Cultural Diversity

Celebrating Christchurch’s increasing cultural diversity and promoting understanding of cultural difference is the focus of a new City Council subcommittee.

The Multi-Cultural City Subcommittee, which met for the first time in January, aims to give practical effect to the Council’s vision that, “all people, of whatever background, feel welcome here”.

Chairperson Anna Crighton says Race Unity Day, to be held on March 21, is a nationwide event to celebrate New Zealand’s diversity. It highlights the need to increase understanding at a local level of cultural diversity, and similarities.

“We have a rich tapestry of cultural diversity in Christchurch, and will continue to do so. The city celebrates this diversity every day through music, theatre, museum exhibits, restaurants, tourism and art exhibitions.

“However, we need to provide a formal framework to further our commitment in recognising Christchurch as a multicultural city, and the issues that raises around education, employment, race relations, cultural festivals and events,” she says.

The subcommittee, in adopting its terms of reference (the rules by which it operates), has picked up on the work of the Mayor’s Working Party on Ethnic Relations.

“Over the last two years the Mayor has led a working party on ethnic relations. Arising from that work are some key initiatives that this subcommittee is now progressing,” says Cr Crighton.

One is the development of a multi-cultural centre to act as a focal point for cultural activities and issues in Christchurch. Called Everybody’s Cultural Centre, the concept is being progressed through a community trust.

Another is the establishment of an Inter-Cultural Assembly to bring ethnic groups together during the year to share information, discuss issues of relevance and work together on projects.

Cr Crighton says items up for discussion by her subcommittee include looking at initiatives to welcome all refugees and migrants who come to live in Christchurch, and promoting employment opportunities for them, by making employers aware of the different talent that is available.

“Measures to assist in overcoming language barriers and a database of information as a means of assisting new migrants, are also priorities,” she says.

For more information: Contact Christchurch City Councillor Anna Crighton on 366 –2557.

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