New Zealand had much to celebrate on Race Relations Day including latest research showing race relations as the top issue New Zealanders felt optimistic about, says Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter.
This year’s UMR Mood of the Nation survey, included in the Human Rights Commission Race Relations Report released earlier this month, contrasts with a survey in 2002 that assessed race relations as New Zealanders’ greatest concern.
As well, formal complaints of racial discrimination to the Human Rights Commission have decreased.
“These are very real signs that anxiety over migrants and other cultures in New Zealand has lessened and that New Zealanders are becoming increasingly comfortable with a range of different cultures and ethnic groups,” Chris Carter said.
“In my role as Minister for Ethnic Affairs, I regularly experience the vibrancy and energy of different cultures and it’s great to see more and more New Zealanders visiting so many cultural events and festivals every year.”
The Race Relations Report highlighted the importance of the new curriculum in fostering positive inter-cultural relationships. It requires schools to recognise cultural diversity and encourages them to work with their local communities to achieve relevant learning programmes.
“The curriculum changes are very timely, one quarter of babies now born in New Zealand have more than one ethnicity,” Chris Carter said.
But the report did show areas where improvement was needed, including a lack of ethnic diversity in the media and not enough involvement by ethnic groups in public decision-making.
“Pacific and ethnic groups need to be encouraged to put their hands up for election or selection for everything from community boards to school boards of trustees so their voices can be heard,” Chris Carter said.
“But overall the picture of race relations in our country is a positive one and we have a lot to be proud of,” Chris Carter said.