Celebrating Diversity in our kitchens and our communities

Celebrating Diversity in our kitchens and our communities

March 13, 2015

The Human Rights Commission is encouraging New Zealanders to share their culture and food to celebrate race relations day this year.

“We live in one of the most ethnically diverse nations on earth and luckily for us that also means we can share and enjoy some of the best foods on the planet,” says Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.

“Sharing a potluck meal with your workmates is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to celebrate race relations day this year.”

As part of its programme of activities this year the Human Rights Commission’s set up a Facebook Page, “Food Culture” that encourages Kiwis to share and enjoy multicultural meals.

Dai and Dal – semi finalists in My Kitchen Rules New Zealand – have come on board to promote the celebration of diverse kitchens and diverse communities.

Dai Phoneviley’s family arrived in New Zealand in 1984, they’d spent two years in a refugee camp after fleeing their unsafe homeland of Laos.

“When we arrived we had nothing but we had everything.  We were just so grateful to live in a country where there is freedom,” said Dai.

“I was lucky to grow up in Porirua, I embraced Maori culture and Pasifika culture and consider myself a true blue Kiwi with an Asian heritage.”

Dai and Dal are also holding cooking demonstrations in many multicultural festivals and markets to celebrate race relations including tomorrow’s Upper Hutt Multicultural Festival and tonight’s South East Asian night market in Wellington.

“From Pasifika to Matatini, Chinese New Year to Diwali: we live in a super diverse nation and sitting down to share a meal together is one of the oldest but most successful ways to understand  one another,” said Dame Susan.

This year’s Race Relations Day theme, Big Change Starts Small – was created by a Vietnamese Kiwi who had lived in Auckland for less than a year when he won last year’s national Race Unity Speech Award.

The theme’s te reo Maori theme is the proverb “Itiiti Rearea, Kahika Teitei, Ka Taea” – the smallest bellbird is able to climb to the heights of the tallest Kahika tree.

“Thai An Vo’s winning speech captures the spirit of positive race relations and human rights: Big change starts small. Positive race relations don’t just live in a document at the United Nations – they must live in our communities, suburbs and lives,” said Dame Susan Devoy.

“Young Maori and Pacific Kiwis are a growing demographic, with Auckland home to the biggest Polynesian population on the planet. Today one in ten Kiwis are Asian Kiwis, in Auckland one in four of us are Asian.”

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