Community leaders, volunteers, members of parliament and patron gathered last week at Madam Kwong's restaurant in Christchurch to celebrate the existence and services provided by Christchurch Multicultural Council Inc (CMC).
Started in 1989, the community organisation evolved, grew manifold and offered its services to the migrant community living in the city.
The organisation that represents 170 ethnic groups living in New Zealand called in to observe the event not just as a celebration but as a reflection back on its services provided to countless number migrants and migrant communities living in the southern part of the country that brought minor to significant life-changing experiences for the people.
"This is a significant moment of pride for all of us present here," president of CMC, Surinder Tandon said at the event.
Surinder Tandon joined CMC in 2000 and became its president in 2009, and he also received Queen's honour Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in 2014 for his services to the community and textile research in NZ.
Present at the event were President of Multicultural New Zealand (NZ Federation of Multicultural Councils Inc.), Ethnic Advisor to Sir Mark Soloman Ngai Tahu- Sally Pitama, Minister Poto Williams, MP Dr Duncan Webb, Christchurch City Councillors Jimmy Chen, and Anne Galloway, Deborah Lam and Eileen Yee (OEC), Sarah Denny (Hagley College), Ahmed Tani (Canterbury Refugees Service & Resource Centre), CMC Life Member Wim de Winter and volunteers amongst the other guests.
President of Multicultural New Zealand Pancha Narayanan lauded the team of CMC for making it into its 30th anniversary and congratulated the organisation for its role and influence in making Christchurch the very first Treaty-based Multicultural City in New Zealand.
"I would like to acknowledge our Life Member of MNZ and Past President Weng Kei Chen and others, as these are our stalwarts who built not only the Christchurch Multicultural Council but also Multicultural New Zealand- without their efforts I'm not sure we would've got to where we are today," Mr Narayanan said at the event.
Christchurch Multicultural Council over the last three decades has been providing advocacy to migrants and community groups for settlement and integration, celebrating diversity, strengthening diverse communities, fostering unity in diversity, promoting social inclusion, equality, integration, encouraging migrants for greater civic participation, lobbying for broader ethnic representation on boards and trusts etc.
CMC has partnered and collaborated with several different community organisations, local and national government bodies, media organisations, sports clubs etc. so to reach out to as many migrants and ethnic groups and assist them with settling in New Zealand and provide any help if they may need.
"Our strategic partners include Christchurch City Council, Selwyn District Council, Waimakariri District Council's Migrants & Newcomers Group, NZFMC/MNZ, Ngai Tahu, OEC, NZ Police, Immigration NZ, MSD, Electoral Commission, Canterbury Interfaith Society, Hagley College, Christchurch Metro Cricket Association, Pegasus Health, Revel Events, Shakti, Christchurch Resettlement Service, Refugee Centre, Network Waitangi Otautahi, Plains FM96.9, Rotary Clubs, all community groups and others," Mr Tandon added.
CMC, like the Refugee Centre, has been supporting Hagley College for the development of NZ's first multicultural hub for which the Christchurch City Council has already agreed to fund its construction.
"The need for a multicultural hub is even greater now after the March 15 terrorist attack on the two Mosques. It was an attack on our diversity, both religious and cultural, on our harmonious relations.
"But the time after the attacks showed us our strong united diversity and harmony which brought out immense solidarity, compassion, love and empathy from people of
diverse cultures and faiths towards the victims' families and the Muslim community throughout NZ," Mr Tandon said.
The 30th-anniversary event on Saturday, February 1, had the speeches by dignitaries and guests at the event, cake cutting ceremony, reflections by CMC Founding member Weng Kei Chen and an address by CMC president Surinder Tandon.
The event also has entertainment celebrating the occasion including a classical Indian dance performance by Kaushalaya Devi, a song of peace by Filipino duo by Yna Martinez and Marielle Ariola, Tribal belly Dance to Macedonian music by Yulia and Petra and Chinese musical performance on Erhu by Jeffrey Zhao, Christchurch Shandong Association.
CMC’s major achievements over 30 years include:
- Contribution to the establishment of the Office of Ethnic (Affairs) Communities
- Ongoing support to OEC and other partners
- Contribution to the establishment of the Race Relations Office
- Contribution to the development of Christchurch Multicultural Strategy
- Support for the annual Lincoln/Selwyn Multicultural Festival
- Global 7s cricket tournament and now All Nations T20 Cricket Tournament with ChCh Metro Cricket Association for Hagley Multicultural Hub
- Advocacy for settlement of migrants/refugees
- Living in Harmony project for women
- Strengthened intercultural and interfaith harmony. Fostered unity in diversity
- Social and cultural wellbeing of ethnic people of all age groups and genders
- Greater participation in decision-making roles/submissions at Local and Central Government levels.
- Encouraged migrants for greater civic participation
- Lobbying for greater ethnic representation on boards/trusts/councils etc.
- Strategic partnerships with several organisations/groups for ethnic communities
- Significant participation in, and contribution to, CCC INFoRM and ICA groups
- Significant support provided post-earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and mosque attacks of 15 March 2019
- Promoted the White Ribbon campaign for the elimination of violence against women (domestic, family violence)