The Office of Ethnic Communities Christchurch organised the Civic Participation Consultation Forum at the Office of Internal Affairs on Friday, December 7.

Community Leaders and Ethnic Agencies Representatives were invited to attend and present their views on and experiences of Civic Participation in New Zealand.

The purpose of the forum was to support the creation of an environment that facilitates and encourages ethnic communities to participate fully in society.

The Civic Participation aims to support Ethnic Communities to participate civically by creating opportunities and remove barriers.

Over 40 ethnic group community leaders and ethnic agencies representatives attended a consultation forum on Civic Participation.

The attendees were divided into eight breakout groups and supplied with a questionnaire to refer and discuss upon.

Some of the questions part of the discussions were- what are their views on civic participation, barriers for the ethnic communities that prevent them from participating civically, motivations for the participation, how can civic participation made more accessible for the communities and any broader issues that the reps would like to address at the forum.

President of Christchurch Multicultural Council Surinder Tandon and Community Board Member from Waimairi, Shirish Paranjape were among the invitees from the Indian community to share their own journeys of increasing the involvement in various activities and roles for civic participation over the last two decades.

“The aim was to support the creation of an environment that facilitates and encourages ethnic communities to participate civically fully in society in order to increase ethnic representation and to promote multicultural values and cross-culture integration, respect and harmony,” Mr Tandon said.

“Some of the key barriers that we discussed were cultural understanding of the people, language, lack of knowledge and education amongst the community members about the civic elections and process of participation, their contributions in the civic elections etc.,” Mr Tandon told The Indian Weekender.