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Inter-Cultural Assembly gets go ahead from community

26 March 2003

Christchurch’s Inter-Cultural Assembly (ICA) was established last night at the Civic of Canterbury, with the aim of securing Christchurch as a peaceful welcoming place for people of all nations.

Somalian, Egyptian, Russian, Irish and Pakistani people were among those who spoke in support of the Assembly, which has arisen out of a report requested by Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore’s Working Party on Ethnic Relations.

Mr Moore said, “he was delighted with the willingness of people to share their experiences and give their support to ensuring that cultural diversity is nurtured and encouraged in Christchurch. ”

Establishment of the Assembly was also given the wholehearted backing of guest speakers; Mark Solomon, Kaiwhakahare of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu; Minister of Immigration, Lianne Dalziel; Race Relations Commissioner, Joris de Bres and Federation of Ethnic Councils President, Weng Kei Chen.

Mr Solomon emphasised the importance of talking and listening in the development of a better society, which was reiterated by Mr Moore, who likened the ICA to our local United Nations.

Ms Dalziel said that no-one in Christchurch was excluded from the ICA. There is not one New Zealander who does not have a migrant story in their past, she said.

Christchurch was challenged to adopt a season of cultures by Mr de Bres - a time of year when all cultures could be celebrated. He also recommended the writing of a book about the city’s cultural diversity.

Weng Kei Chen said he was proud to be a resident of Christchurch. “ This Inter- Cultural Assembly is a means by which we can acknowledge and understand each other and find common ground. ”

At the end of the evening, which included entertainment from Ethiopian and Filipino dancers, the 70 guests were invited to the ICA’s next meeting on Wednesday 14 May at Our City O-Tautahi.

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