All in Interviews

Celebrate the fact that we are all Kiwis: Melisaa Lee, National’s List MP based in Mt Albert, and also the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities

Born in Korea, and brought up in Malaysia, Melissa Lee moved to New Zealand as a young adult in 1988. What followed was over two decades of journalism in both print and television, including fifteen years as the presenter and producer on TVNZ’s Asia Dynamic and Asia Down Under with 600 episodes to her credit. In 2008, she entered Parliament as a National list MP, making her New Zealand’s first Korean MP. Alongside, she held positions as a Vice President of the Korean Society, Vice-President of the Korean Womens’ Association, Board member of the Asia-Pacific Producers’ Network, advisor to the National Unification Council of Korea, and an Asian advisor to the Auckland Police.

Integration vs assimilation: In conversation with Patrick O’Connor, director of PEETO, the Multi-Cultural Learning Centre, Christchurch

"I absolutely despise the word assimilation. I think it should be consigned to the dustbins of history. A similar such word is tolerance. These words inherently mean that there is one preferred way of doing things, and everyone should adhere to that. Among developed nations, France is the only one, which went on the path of assimilation due to its cultural arrogance and it’s been an absolute failure there. What we should do instead, is integration and acceptance. A rather simplistic analogy is that of a soup and fried rice. In a soup, you can’t taste the ingredients separately, which is possible in fried rice. I want our New Zealand society to be like fried rice."

Health and non-profit: In conversation with Kate Russell, chief executive of Canterbury Medical Research Foundation and commercial director of NZ Brain Research Institute

"Certainly not. Over 27,000 charities for a country our size, doesn't make any sense. Duplication and proliferation are the two major issues here. Firstly, we have to understand and acknowledge that a lot many charitable trusts are formed for tax avoidance purposes. The problem is once a charity passes the public benefit test in New Zealand, it doesn't have to pay any taxes. This is absurd. We need to change that. A charity should be able to accept donations and people who donate get tax reliefs. But the charity itself is not tax exempt. We need to divorce these two things."

Hit and Run: My book is dedicated to New Zealand military - Nicky Hager, author and investigative journalist

Nicky Hager, author of Hit and Run, co-written with war correspondent Jon Stephenson, addressing the gathering on April 6, at the Transitional Cathedral in Christchurch. The public meeting was organised by the Christchurch Progressive Network led by last year's mayoral candidate John Minto. "The book is about what the New Zealand military – and especially the Special Air Service (SAS) – did in Afghanistan in response to the first New Zealander dying in combat in August 2010," said Hager while releasing the book in March. 

Interview: 2017 will be a landmark in regenerating Christchurch: Albert Brantley, Chief Executive of Otakaro, and a migrant himself

Highlights: it's important to tell the story; we need to get the community and people more involved; all new anchor projects will be inclusive, will appeal to everyone and everybody; Christchurch will be the city of future; we encourage diversity of thoughts at Otakaro; diversity of cultures and migrants have been great for New Zealand

In conversation with Sophie-Claire Violette, Coordinator of Mid Canterbury Newcomers Network, Ashburton

"Over the years and through the dedicated leadership of several coordinators and the work of passionate volunteers, the Mid Canterbury Newcomers Network has grown into a dynamic, community-led and community-driven organization and developed a 300+ person strong network of friends, community contacts, cultural ambassadors and grass-roots community leaders and initiatives that contribute at different levels of community building and organising. We support newcomers who have come from all over New Zealand and the rest of the world who have chosen to settle into Mid Canterbury. We are a starting point of sorts for them."

Help: We want to engage more and more with migrants and refugees, Mollie Howarth, CAB manager for Christchurch

Mollie Howarth's involvement with CAB is almost a decade old; six years out of which, she has been the Christchurch manager of the organisation. Now, she heads a team of two part-timers, and 105 trained volunteers, all of whom team up to operate three branches and two satellites help desks across the city. “What we do can best be summarised as a personalised information help desk, which is open for anyone in New Zealand. You may be on a work visa, resident, citizen, or just a visitor, our trained volunteers are always at hand to provide the desired information to the best of their abilities,” she says.

Equal footing for Chinese companies in New Zealand is desired: Consul General Jin Zhijian in Christchurch

China-NZ relations have grown impressively since the FTA of 2008; It's a comprehensive and strategic partnership now; Challenges on One China policy and South China Sea remains; Consulate General's office in Christchurch represents the Chinese Government in the South Island; The Chinese community in New Zealand doesn't face widespread discrimination; It's not racism. It's not a widespread problem. Just few cases here and there; We are concerned about the recent physical attacks on the Chinese community and want to see those cases dealt with promptly by the New Zealand Government organizations; It's in everyone’s interests to see more Chinese visitors coming to New Zealand and the New Zealand government has made it very clear that they welcome all foreign visitors including Chinese visitors here

End violence against women

This Friday, November 25, was White Ribbon Day, a UN-recognised international day urging all to eliminate violence against women. It all came about through a men’s movement in Canada drawing attention to the issue in 1991 that led to the UN designating a world day to call on global efforts to tackle the issue of gender-based violence.

A passionate advocate

"I am a competent confident New Zealand-born Kiwi woman. Yet, I too stayed in a violent relationship for six years. Thus, I can feel what all domestic violence victims feel. I also understand why some women choose to stay in a violent relationship. First - is the feeling of guilt. That somehow women start believing it's their fault. Second - is the shame of explaining to everyone why they put up with such abuse. Third - is after a while women loose confidence and their sense of individuality. Fourth – is hope. Hope that things will change. Hope that the man will realise his mistake. That's why organisations such as Shakti do such an amazing job. This is a cross-party issue and I believe the Justice Minister Amy Adams is doing a good job handling it."

In conversation with Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse

Immigration policy is demand driven, skill based and humanitarian; Tackling unconscious bias by NZ employers is a broad issue for the Government; Deportation of Indian students has some element of victimisation but they have to take responsibility for the information they provided; Migrants need to come out against exploitation; We are not giving up on young New Zealanders; South Island immigration policy details will be announced soon

In conversation with Minister for Ethnic Communities, Peseta Sam Lotu-liga

Ethnic communities are very important to NZ; Challenges are there, but my ministry collaborates with other agencies to help migrants settle-in; We are open to any proposal to assist in translating civil defence material into ethnic languages; Tackling pacific youth suicides is a priority for this Government
Several reasons for declining voting in local government elections

Details on South Island immigration policy soon: Craig Foss

Following up on Prime Minister John Key's announcement made mid last year of granting skilled migrants and entrepreneurs more points towards residency if they agree to live in the regions, the Government will be announcing the policy details early next year. Minister of Small Businesses, Craig Foss, who is also the Associate Minister for Immigration informed this while attending the Small Business Roadshow organised by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, on November 7, in Christchurch.

Indian and Chinese MPs in the Labour Caucus after 2017 elections: Andrew Little

Calling Labour anti-migrants is desperation on part of the PM; Labour has no magic number for immigration; depends on circumstances; The Government has turned a blind eye to what private education institutes are doing; We will put the onus back on education institutes; Co-ethnic exploitation is an issue; More labour inspectors are needed; Crime can be prevented by having more frontline police officers from ethnic communities

Youth: Two Korean siblings make history in Christchurch's local elections

This can be the story of these local elections. Two young Korean siblings Linda Chen and Catherine Chu - daughters of Korean immigrants who came to New Zealand almost two decades back - winning their respective community board elections is not an everyday occurrence. Linda who gathered 3391 votes won the Harewood Ward of the Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board. While Catherine came out as a victor in the Riccarton Ward of the Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board with 2074 votes.

Interpreting: challenging but a very satisfying job: Rosibel Alcolea, Interpreting Canterbury

Rosibel a trained Spanish-English interpreter working with Interpreting Canterbury for the past one year moved to Christchurch six years back from her native Mexico City after marrying a Kiwi. Here she shares her initial struggle, her path to becoming a trained interpreter, and the challenges and rewards her job brings everyday.