Speech - Lunar New Year 2024

Annyeonghaseyo, greetings and welcome all.

It is my pleasure as the Minister for Ethnic Communities to welcome you to the first Lunar New Year Event in Parliament.

Thank you to our emcees for greeting us in the different languages that represent the many cultures that celebrate the Lunar New Year. So, I am honoured to greet you in my mother tongue, Korean. Saehae bog manh-i-bad-euseyd.

I would first like to welcome and acknowledge our guests:

  • The Rt Hon Christopher Luxon, Prime Minister of New Zealand
  • Ministerial and Parliamentary colleagues. 
  • The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Dr Wang Xiaolong
  • Diplomatic corps from Singapore, Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Fiji, Viet Nam, and Thailand. 
  • Mrs Jenny Too, National President of the New Zealand Chinese Association
  • Mr Mervin Singham, Chief Executive of the Ministry for Ethnic Communities
  • The many community leaders present from across the country
  • Our co-emcees, Nancy Lu and Dr Carlos Cheung
  • And the many wonderful performers who join us this evening. 

In the Year of the Dragon, we come together for the first time to celebrate this auspicious event in Parliament as Lunar New Year. The Year of the Dragon symbolises bravery, honour, creativity, and innovation. It is a time to reflect and celebrate the rich cultures that are an important part of New Zealand.

Cultural celebrations hold immense importance for communities and nurture a strong sense of belonging. They recognise and welcome diversity, while also giving the wider population an opportunity to embrace other cultures.

I am thrilled that this year’s event is expanded to include the various communities celebrating the Lunar New Year. New Zealand is known for its incredible diversity. As a nation, it is important to acknowledge the traits we share and celebrate them.

Tonight’s event is a great example of how our similarities and differences can bring us together.

As the Minister for Ethnic Communities, I am eager to continue expanding these events, aiming to make them as inclusive as possible. By sharing, we promote understanding and acceptance which will translate to belonging.

For generations, Asian communities have had a long and significant presence in New Zealand’s history. Trade and immigration between New Zealand and Asia have existed since the 19th Century.

Your significant effort and unwavering dedication have played a crucial role in contributing to our nation’s economic, social, and cultural advancement. Additionally, your support during global events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, has been instrumental in aiding and uplifting our communities. 

We recognise the work of long-standing organisations like New Zealand Chinese Association, with their 80 years of uninterrupted history. There are also many other organisations who support Asian communities, such as The Asian Network Incorporated, who celebrated their 20th Anniversary in 2023, and Korean Positive Ageing Charitable Trust, who also celebrated their 10th Anniversary in 2023. We continue to be inspired by the stories of community achievements; despite the challenges they face.

We can expect the contribution and value of Asian communities to our nation to only grow, with Stats NZ projecting Kiwis of Asian descent to make up a quarter of New Zealand’s population by 2043.

According to Asia New Zealand Foundation’s 2022 Annual Survey, entitled “New Zealanders’ Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples”, New Zealanders are increasingly aware of the importance of Asia. Four in five people in New Zealand (80%) said that developing political, economic, and social ties with Asia is important. This has increased from 73% in 2020 and substantially increased from the 2019 result when 3 in 5 people in New Zealand (67%) held this view.

New Zealand is well equipped to receive our growing Asian community and support them, with the Ministry for Ethnic Communities in place to continue working with ethnic communities across the country. 

We want communities to experience and contribute to our economy, to flourish socially, and to feel safe and valued in New Zealand. 

The Ministry’s role is to ensure that your voices, needs, and perspectives are heard across government agencies. 

The Ministry administers the Ethnic Communities Development Fund, which supports communities to:

  • Promote the value of diversity and improve the inclusion of ethnic communities in wider society.
  • Ensure government services are provided fairly and are easily accessible for ethnic communities.
  • Improve economic outcomes for ethnic communities and look at the barriers to employment.
  • And connect and uplift ethnic community groups.

It is my pleasure to welcome you all tonight. I hope you enjoy the programme ahead. 

I wish you all a healthy, prosperous, and harmonious Year of the Dragon.

Saehae bog manh-i-bad-euseyd, Xin Nian Kuai Le, Sun Nian Fay Luo, Chúc mừng năm mới! 

Happy Lunar New Year 2024!

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