This year’s renaming of the Office of Ethnic Affairs to Office of Ethnic Communities provided Tūrangawaewae with a good opportunity to interview the Minister for Pacific Peoples and Ethnic Communities, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.
The Minister says the driver for the name change of the office was to bring about greater alignment with New Zealand’s ethnic communities and to promote the benefits of ethnic diversity to New Zealanders.
“It is important that our ethnic communities are empowered to expand their horizons so that they can play a more active role in shaping the New Zealand of tomorrow,” Peseta Lotu-Iiga explains.
“As Minister for Ethnic Communities and MP for Maungakiekie in Auckland, I truly believe that New Zealand is a fair and tolerant society that embraces ethnic diversity and celebrates it.”
The Minister does though think there is always more work to be done to improve our understanding of others’ cultures.
“If you understand and are familiar with another culture, you will not fear it,” he says.
“Getting to know your neighbours, going to cultural festivals and eating at ethnic eateries may sound small, but if everyone makes a small change in their local community, that is a start to greater understanding.”
The Human Rights Commission is developing a National Plan of Action due for completion at the end of June. The Plan includes addressing domestic violence. We asked the Minister about his views on this problem of violence against women and children.
The Minister says domestic violence occurs across all cultures, and Pacific cultures are no exception.
“Domestic violence has no place in our society. There should be absolutely no tolerance for it and there is no excuse for turning a blind eye to it,” he said.
“Education is the key to stopping domestic violence. Offenders need rehabilitation to stop their violence but also, women need to know they are not to blame and have a place to turn.”
“It is important for offenders to know, it is not okay.”
- Read the biography of Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga here.