NGO calls for action plan to address family harm

Transport, Workplace Relations and Safety and Immigration Minister Michael Wood (seated third from left) with MNZ President Pancha Narayanan (seated second from left) and other attendees of the Forum held in Auckland on July 2, 2022 (Photo from MNZ Website)

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Wellington, July 9, 2022

Wellington-based Multicultural New Zealand (MNZ) has called on the government to present a clear plan to address issues of family harm in migrant and former refugee families.

The violence stemming from gambling and the use, and abuse of alcohol should be tackled, it said at the  Tamaki Makaurau Multicultural Leadership Forum 2022 held on July 2, 2022.

President Pancha Narayanan said that as a senior, pan-ethnic volunteer organisation, MNZ invited community leaders in Auckland to provide insights on addressing three topical issues facing Auckland and the rest of New Zealand.

The issues were (1) Safety of migrant and former refugee families in Auckland communities (2) Communities connecting with their mana whenua (3) Foreign influence in the upcoming local body and central government elections and the impact on communities.

Minister apprised of concerns

Transport, Workplace Relations and Safety and Immigration Minister Michael Wood attended the event held in Parnell along with 30 migrant and former refugee community leaders.

Mr Wood reiterated the government’s commitment to addressing the serious transport issues in Auckland and worker exploitation by employers. On immigration, he said that he had prioritised nurses and was looking forward to the completion of the one-off special residence visa announced in 2021.

The Forum also celebrated the improved community engagement with Ethnic Liaison Officers of New Zealand Police and for expanding the network of community patrols around the motu.

Community leaders who attended the forum unequivocally expressed concern over the impact of drug and alcohol use and gambling on family violence.

With the announcement of a new funding strategy of the government to minimise gambling harm, the weekend’s Hui with community leaders demonstrated that they had the finger on the pulse when it comes to such issues.

Gambling and resultant problems 

Mr Narayanan said that minimising gambling harm will also address issues like financial problems, relationship problems, family violence, and alcohol abuse.

MNZ recognises that these leaders can make a significant contribution toward positive actions in their respective communities.

“It is time for a transparent, joined-up, all-government approach including the New Zealand Police, Ministry of Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Ministry of Justice, and Department of Internal Affairs working with communities in tackling these issues in Auckland and around the motu.  A Te Ao Maori induction programme for newly arriving settlers was a key expectation of MNZ of this government as part of its commitment to improving the settlement outcome for more recent settlers,” he said.

The Forum advised the Minister that this endeavour to build a cohesive and connected Aotearoa New Zealand must be supported by an improved, community-facilitated approach to aiding new settlers early in their settlement journey.

Mr Wood said that he was aware of the request of MNZ for such a programme as part of the New Zealand Immigration Policy. He said that he valued the sentiments and was looking at some strategies as part of achieving better settlement outcomes for migrants.

The session commenced with a haka by Te Uku Toia, followed by a detailed talk on mihi whakatau practice from group member Maria Rangi.

The challenges in Auckland for migrant and former refugee communities in engaging with Tangata whenua were discussed.

Five-point guidelines

The guideline for engagement with mana whenua and how do we go about this includes (1) Whakamana Te Tangata (Respect) (2) Whakapapa (Kinship) (3) Whanaungatanga (Relationship) (4)  Manaakitanga (Caring For Others) (5) Kotahitanga (Unity)

MNZ’s Huarahi Hou initiative was applauded as a promising concept and plan for a community-facilitated approach to connecting with local mana whenua.

The leaders welcomed the introduction of Huarahi Hou to MNZ’s support efforts for Auckland.

Foreign influence in the upcoming local body and central government elections and the impact on communities was a subject of the Forum.

This session discussed how social media appealed to the emotions of people and how it was dividing the communities based on their religions, associations, and connections. The need for legislation was felt to rein in social media.

The community leaders mentioned that they would encourage their communities not to forward unnecessary information on social media unless they were sure about the source of information.

“Foreign influence was another issue that was discussed at the Forum with the community leaders. Because of the upcoming local body elections, community members should be vigilant and more informed about the potential offshore interference. A similar watchfulness is required for the general elections next year,” Mr Narayanan said.

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