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Ethnic plurality enhances National values

New Zealand has over 200 ethnicities – more than the number of countries in the world – and a quarter of our population was born overseas.

As a result, we are very welcoming towards migrants as we recognise the wealth of cultural and language knowledge, skills and experience that they bring to our country.

Our ethnic communities help us tap into overseas markets, expand our businesses and offer fresh and innovative ideas and perspectives.

In the year to July 2014, we had 37.7% increase in the number of permanent long term migrants from India, who led the charge against other migrant populations entering New Zealand with a total of 7700.

Education boost

Migrants from India and China were most commonly travelling to New Zealand on a student visa to study.

As a result of this demand, with 3113 additional student enrolments, our education institutes are seeing an increase in student numbers of between 9% and 13%.

This is fantastic news, particularly in Christchurch where Canterbury University suffered 15% fall in numbers following the earthquakes in 2012.

Auckland and Christchurch are currently our most common destinations for international students, and the local economies benefit to the tune of about $100 million per year.

We also see international education as a very important role in strengthening New Zealand’s economic, cultural and social links with the wider world.

Key ambassadors

Our international students and visitors are key ambassadors for New Zealand in China, India, South East Asia and South America. As well as strengthening our education system, international education contributes to our goals for research, innovation, trade and tourism.
As the number of migrants moving to New Zealand to live increases, the Government is looking for ways to grow their participation in our economy, in governance roles and in our communities.

Language support

Our Office of Ethnic Affairs (OEA) wants to ensure that ethnic New Zealanders have the tools and opportunities they need to get ahead. For example, we have ensured that the SuperGold Card information is translated into Chinese, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Korean, Samoan and Tongan languages.

We have expanded the Language Line to provide telephone interpreting in 44 languages to 90 public sector organisations and more recently to the private sector, an initiative which received 54,822 requests for interpreters during 2013-2014, the highest so far.

We are also continuing to work with ethnic communities to ensure that they are supported to engage and contribute in New Zealand’s communities and economy through the annual EPIC and Ethnica Conferences and the Muslim World Forum.

Business Workshops

To support the integration of migrant communities into the workplace we have established workshops for local businesses to promote the value of diversity in the workplace, and programmes to increase cultural awareness with organisations and City Councils. The Office of Ethnic Affairs also runs leadership workshops to help members of ethnic communities build on their skills and prepare them for leadership positions out in the community.

Workers’ Rights

We are also looking at ways to protect migrants through our Immigration Amendment Bill (No 2) which will introduce heavy penalties including deportation for migrant bosses or business owners who exploit workers. The government wants to enforce the rights of migrant workers, regardless of their immigration status whilst cracking down on exploitation. We have committed $7 million over the next four years to tackle migrant exploitation in Canterbury in particular.

We want all New Zealanders to be engaged and active members of our society. Diversity is one of our strengths and National is working hard to foster and grow the potential this brings culturally, socially and commercially.

New Zealand is on track, growing, and the future is bright.

A third term would allow us to make the most of the once-in-a-generation opportunity that the National Government and New Zealanders have together created to lift our country’s performance.


Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi is Member of Parliament on National’s List. He is seen here with National Party Leader and Prime Minister John Key.

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