Office of Ethnic Affairs

The Office of Ethnic Affairs is part of the Department of Internal Affairs. We provide advice and support to government, business and ethnic communities on the opportunities, challenges and benefits of ethnic diversity

Our three key priorities are:

  • Supporting ethnic businesses to make a contribution to New Zealand, drawing upon their local and offshore connections to improve New Zealand’s competitive edge in the global economy,
  • Facilitating the development of government policy and services that meet the needs of ethnically diverse people in New Zealand
  • Promoting participation of ethnic people in all aspects of society to help foster respect for diversity and social inclusion.

What we do

The Office of Ethnic Affairs provides ethnic diversity advice and support in a range of ways:

  • Increasing access to economic development opportunities and employment for ethnic communities
  • Offering expert advice on the benefits and challenges of ethnic diversity and how to manage diversity effectively
  • Building and maintaining strong connections between ethnic and mainstream communities, government agencies, non-government organisations, iwi and the private sector
  • Helping build capability across the ethnic sector and encouraging people to actively participate in all aspects of New Zealand life
  • Raising intercultural awareness, competences, and skills.

How we work

We take a partnership approach with our stakeholders facilitating engagement and connections, and offering advice and support.  We aim to provide leadership in the ethnic affairs sector and a voice on the latest issues relating to ethnic diversity.

The Office of Ethnic Affairs is committed to helping maximise the benefits of an ethnically diverse community.

Projects 2012
EthnicA Conferences

First held in Auckland and Wellington in 2011, four EthnicA Conferences will be held in 2012 as follows:

  • Auckland – Saturday 31 March 2012
  • Hamilton – Sunday 1 April 2012
  • Christchurch – Saturday 28 April 2012
  • Wellington – Saturday 26 May 2012

The conferences provide an innovative, savvy and cutting edge arena discussing the latest issues and topics regarding ethnic affairs.

Death and Diversity exhibition

The Office of Ethnic Affairs has worked with the Museum of Wellington City and Sea to develop an exhibition that explores the diverse customs and traditions surrounding death. The Wellington Assyrian, Chinese, Colombian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Mexican communities will share their stories about the grieving process and their recent developments in funeral and mourning practices.

This is the first time that ethnic communities open up their private world to share their intimate and emotional journeys of life and death with mainstream New Zealanders. It offers people a chance to explore the experience of death through the eyes of others.

The exhibition opened in December 2011and is expected to attract more than 10,000 visitors before it closes in June.

A public programme of events and debates is being scheduled to run concurrently with the Death and Diversity exhibition. It will begin in February 2012. Four of these programmes will focus explicitly on the experience of ethnic communities and will provide an opportunity for people to share and celebrate the diversity and sameness of the passage of death and dying, and ultimately of life, through their settlement journey in New Zealand.  These sessions will be held between late April and June 2012.

Asia Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue

The Office is facilitating the participation of a group of New Zealand faith community leaders in the sixth Asia-Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue to be held in Indonesia in March.  The New Zealand government has co-sponsored the dialogues with the governments of Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

 Celebration of diversity events

The Office supports the Minister in hosting official functions to mark the Chinese New Year, Race Relations Day, Eid and Diwali.

Business Database

The Office will develop a new database to connect ethnic and mainstream businesses.


A programme of workshops will be held on cultural diversity in the workplace, improving small business know-how and the constitutional review. A business symposium is planned for May.

Language Line

The Office will continue to provide the Language Line telephone interpreting service, which is used by government and other organisations delivering public services and provides access to interpreters in over 40 languages.

Ethnic Perspectives in Policy

The Office will refresh its guidelines on Ethnic Perspectives in Policy for government departments.

Social Innovation and Enterprise

The Office is undertaking a three year project on social innovation and enterprise for ethnic community organisations, aimed at building their capacity in a fiscally constrained environment.

ASB Polyfest

The Office will support a diversity stage at the annual ASB secondary schools Polyfest in Auckland in March.

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