It’s important every New Zealander feels inspired and has the opportunity to step into leadership roles in our neighbourhoods, workplaces, on boards and in broader decision making authorities. This is one of the reason’s I aspired to become a Member of Parliament.

As a country we are extremely proud of our diversity and it’s increasingly seen as a competitive advantage on so many levels particularly when it comes to business. That’s why we’re working to make sure that we create the best culture and environment possible for this exchange of knowledge and skills.

The 2014 series of EthnicA conferences, which began last weekend, help do just this; stressing the importance of diverse leadership for New Zealand’s success.

Migrant businesses are a wealth of international knowledge for other New Zealand businesses. Likewise migrant businesses are able to learn and feed off New Zealand businesses that have an institutional understanding of operating in our domestic environment.

These conferences are part of a fantastic pool of programmes organised by the Office of Ethnic Affairs (OEA) to tap into New Zealand’s ethnic diversity and find new avenues to develop and strengthen leadership across the board.

At the event a range of speakers told experiences operating ‘in two worlds’ because to be successful we have to learn to navigate and balance both the demands of our working life, with the demands of our home or community life.

As the face and heart of New Zealand becomes more diverse, it’s crucial that leaders in ethnic communities play a more active role shaping decision-making.

It’s a well-known priority of this Government that each and every person is able to participate and contribute culturally, socially and economically. That’s why as a country we are much stronger for it.

I encourage you to be a part in the upcoming EthnicA conferences in Wellington, Christchurch or Auckland, and help us take New Zealand expertise to the world.

The OEA is empowering migrant communities through a number of initiatives. A good example is their Nominations Services, which facilitates the appointment of ethnic men and women to state sector boards and committees. You can submit your CV directly to OEA and they will include your details on their Nominations database and contact you when a suitable vacancy arises.

My office is here to support you to be as involved as you are able to – please don’t hesitate to contact us for support and advice on how to best do this.