Submission of Multicultural New Zealand, the Federation of Multicultural Councils to Statistics New Zealand on the Objectives of the Civic and Cultural Participation supplement to the New Zealand General Social Survey 2016.

28 January 2015

Thank you for the further opportunity for input into the development of the proposed NZGSS 2016 supplement on civic and cultural participation, specifically in relation to the objectives of the supplement.

Multicultural New Zealand welcomes your decision to select civic and cultural participation as the topic for the supplementary module. As we indicated in our initial submission, the information gathered through the survey will be most useful in informing our policy development and advice for a multicultural New Zealand.

We are impressed in general with the thoroughness of the work done by you in developing the objectives and priorities for the module, and the extent to which you have obviously had regard for input from stakeholders.
We have a number of comments and suggestions for your consideration:

  1. We wonder whether there is a place in the survey for participation in school boards of trustees and district health boards, as publicly elected bodies. While the latter might be included under local government, they could nevertheless be more specifically identified alongside councils. We note that while the Ministry of Health publishes data on the ethnic composition of boards, this only reflects successful candidates and not participation in the process as a whole. The Ministry of Education publishes data on the ethnic composition of school boards of trustees and of candidates standing for election, but a greater understanding of participation and barriers to participation by ethnic minorities would be valuable. The triennial school boards of trustees elections are we believe the most extensive public election process that takes place in New Zealand, and are a form of civic participation.
  2. We also have an interest in obtaining data on the participation of ethnic minorities in decision making bodies on allocation of community funding, e.g. for community development and cultural projects (COGS, Community Trusts, local council community and cultural grants committees, etc). We have a suspicion that ethnic minorities are underrepresented in these bodies and would like to know whether this is true, and why.
  3. Re Table I, priority ratings for topics in output stream 1: We would like to see priorities 1.5 (maintenance of heritage language and culture), 1.6 (skilled migrants’ intentions) and 1.7 (language barriers to participation) moved up the ladder of priorities. We appreciate the difficulty you face in allocating priorities, but can only submit that these are very important to us. In particular, 1.7 (language barriers) has been the subject of a lot of anecdotal evidence and is important to inform efforts to ensure equal access to public and community services.
  4. Re Table 2: priority ratings for topics in output stream 2: We welcome the inclusion of questions relating to local councils and local democracy. As noted above, we believe the inclusion of school boards of trustees and district health boards should be considered here as well. We would like to see priorities 2.9 (understanding of national political processes) and 2.10 (understanding local government decision making) moved up the ladder. Annual school returns on Education Counts, and MoH data on the composition of DHB’s can be added to the summary of available data.
  5. Re Table 3: Proposed priority ratings for topics in output stream 3: We welcome the inclusion of sports and recreational activities in this section, as there is considerable anecdotal evidence of barriers to ethnic participation particularly in mainstream sports. We would therefore suggest that priority 3.10 (participation in sport if inhibitors are removed) be moved up the ladder. We also welcome the inclusion of question 3.11 concerning sport and recreation on conservation land, as again there is anecdotal evidence that conservation areas are predominantly used by the majority ethnic group.
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