Multicultural New Zealand’s 31st Annual General Meeting was a historical moment in the journey of NZ’s move to becoming a truly Te Tiriti based nation.  It brought together a unique group of prominent national community leaders along with kaumatua Maori and multicultural delegates from 19 different regions of Aotearoa.

The weekend event was held at Te Wharewaka o te Poneke, and began with a powhiri where delegates were welcomed on by Te Atiawa, some of the mana whenua of Poneke Wellington and the Iwi that MNZ’s kaumatua and patron Ihakara Puketapu belongs to.

Distinguished Service Awards: Award winner Inspector Rakesh Naidoo (right), award presented by Paul Hunt (left)

The first day involved a Wananga with kaumatua Maori o te motu, opened by Wallace Haumaha Deputy Police Commissioner, and facilitated by Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon and E Tu Whanau advocate and Ngati Kahungunu member PJ Devonshire.

This Wananga challenged notions of biculturalism and multiculturalism in Aotearoa and explored what a Treaty-based Pathway to Citizenship would look like to both Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti. MNZ launched their latest Huarahi Hou report, covering the blessings and wisdom received from tangata whenua for this hikoi.

Life Membership Awards (from left): Raveen Annamalai Multicultural Wellington; Cecelia Baxter (represented by Sandra Tonkin), Waitaki Multicultural Council; Pohswan Narayanan Upper Hutt Multicultural Council; award presenter Meng Foon, Race Relations Commissioner; Anita Mansell Hutt Multicultural Council; Ravinder Powar Waikato Multicultural Council; Pushpa Prasad, Multicultural Council of Whanganui/Rangitikei

MNZ’s Annual General Meeting saw the re-election of Pancha Narayanan as President, Prem Singh as Treasurer, Rabeea Inayatullah as Secretary, and a new Vice-President Marion Kerepeti-Edwards from Whangarei.

Community Service awards were presented to individuals from the regions that had demonstrated sincere service to the community. The publication of MNZ’s 2020 Advocacy document was acknowledged as the powerful voice of Aotearoa’s multicultural communities’ recommendations for Government in the lead up to the 2020 Election.

Group photo in the Wharewaka wharenui. Members of MNZ, Regional Multicultural Councils, Kaumatua from Tauranga, Whanganui, Christchurch, Wellington, Upper Hutt, Porirua, Whangarei, Wainuiomata/Lower Hutt, Hawkes Bay. MNZ Kaumatua Ihakara Puketapu, Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon, Former Race Relations Commissioner Gregory Fortuin, NZ Police National Engagement Advisor Inspector Rakesh Naidoo, Ngai Tahu Chief Sir Mark Solomon, NZ Police Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha

The day was closed with a very colourful Community Dinner and Awards Ceremony with an opening kapa haka from Ngati Poneke.

The opening address was provided by Pancha Narayanan, National MNZ President. This was followed by a serious message on racism by Sir Mark Solomon of Ngai Tahu. 

Distinguished Service Awards: Award winner Dr Ashley Bloomfield (right), award presented by MNZ National President Pancha Narayanan. Dr Bloomfield was not able to make the evening ceremony but welcomed MNZ to his office to receive the award.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Paul Hunt, talked about the need to ‘re-imagine’ human rights based on the ‘3-Rs’: relationships; responsibilities – not only the responsibilities of government but the responsibilities of all of us to each other; and rights. Human rights, he said, are not about ‘I’ and ‘me’, they are also about ‘we and ‘us’, and they are grounded in Te Tiriti.

With Wellington down to Alert Level 1 MNZ was able to open the doors to more than 120 people from the community and partners in government and the multicultural sector. Merit Awards and Life Memberships were given to members of MNZ who had shown longstanding commitment and service to their communities and to the organization. The highlight of the evening culminated in the Distinguished Service Awards, given to four esteemed individuals who have demonstrated exceptional and selfless contribution to Aotearoa and its people.

  • Dr Te Maire Tau, University of Canterbury
  • David Dome, Wellington Phoenix
  • Acting Superintendent Rakesh Naidoo, New Zealand Police
  • Kate Frykberg, Te Muka Rau
  • Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, Director General, Ministry of Health

Distinguished Service Awards: Award winner David Dome (right), award presented by Paul James (left)

The message coming up throughout each part of the weekend centred around the same word: Relationship.

“MNZ looks forward to engaging the relationships with its member Regional Multicultural Councils, Tangata Whenua, government agencies, organisations and individuals that are committed to the marutau (safety), kotahitanga (unity) and mana of the rich diversity of communities that call Aotearoa home,” a spokesperson from Multicultural New Zealand said.