Community leaders from around the motu converged at Tamaki Makaurau on May 6th for MNZ’s two-day Huarahi Hou Conference - Te Tiriti-based Multicultural Aotearoa towards 2040. The kaupapa for the weekend was to address concerns about immigration, settlement and colonisation from a Tiriti-based perspective, as we approach 200 years of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
With over 100 attendees from communities in Tamaki Makaurau and around the country, these topics were discussed through a series of panels that encompassed views of academics, politicians, tangata whenua, community leaders and public servants, culminating in a Conference Declaration on the Sunday morning. Many attendees remarked on the powerful, educational and diverse nature of the whakaaro shared, and the insights granted into communities beyond their own.
- The first panel, facilitated by Professor David MacDonald and comprised of Lupematasila Misatauveve Dr Melani Anae, Tā Mark Solomon, Harry Tam, and Dr Ganesh Nana, discussed the current direction our immigration policies will take us, and an argument for a longterm Tiriti-based population strategy.
- Following this was an interview with Immigration Minister Hon Michael Wood, again facilitated by Professor MacDonald, where the Minister was asked about issues including Hate Speech and racism, Māori involvement with immigration policy and approach, infrastructure in Auckland and immigrant exploitation in the labour market.
- The second panel, facilitated by Professor James Liu and made up of speakers Butch Bradley, Dr Negar Partow, Meng Foon and Pancha Narayanan, discussed different aspects of what robust cultural infrastructure would look like in NZ to successfully support a growing and diversifying population under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
- The last session of the day saw attendees break out into parallel sessions to reflect on the korero of the day from the perspectives of Women, Seniors, Youth and LGTBQI+ respectively. This gave attendees time to process the content of the day and understand how it may apply to the different areas of their communities.
- Tina Ngata and Paul Hunt started the Sunday off with an incredibly compelling discourse on colonisation. Tina unpacked the story and ongoing effects, trauma and inequalities of colonisation that have been internalised within the New Zealand way of life, followed by reflections from Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt. This korero resounded with everyone in the room in a way that it was carried with us for the rest of the day.
- The second panel of the day brought stories from some of MNZ’s partners in government – Sally Clarkson from MSD and Rakesh Naidoo from NZ Police, who provided a valuable perspective on how change can be incorporated and implemented through government departments.
- Before breaking for lunch, the Conference Declaration was announcedc – a summary of the key themes and calls to action that had come from the conference. This will provide the basis for a declaration book to be published in time for MNZ’s AGM and the general election later this year.
- The final session of the conference was a political forum, where representatives from Labour, National and the Greens party were presented with a copy of the Declaration and asked to speak to the themes of the conference. Vanushi Walters, Melissa Lee and Ricardo Menèndez March all gave informative context for how their respective parties and policies could support the community’s vision for a Tiriti-based Multicultural Aotearoa.
With so much to take away from this gathering, it is MNZ’s wish to see communities bring some of the calls to action back into their spheres, and for us all to remember the shared aspirations for safe, healthy and flourishing lives for our children and grandchildren, that connect us all. MNZ will now be working with professors David MacDonald and James Liu to develop the Declaration in time to launch in September 2023.