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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


New Zealand

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TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 2.5 5 5.5


1. Constitutional, legislative or parliamentary affirmation of multiculturalism at the central and / or regional and municipal levels and the existence of a government ministry, secretariat or advisory board to implement this policy in consultation with ethnic communities

   Limited. No explicit affirmation, but there is a government body that oversees ethnic affairs.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0.5 0.5 0.5

Evidence:

  • The Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand’s founding document. It was signed in 1840 by the British and more than 500 Maori chiefs. It is based on the principle of biculturalism (Spoonley 2005).
  • Successive waves of immigration to the country have generated increased discussion about multiculturalism in New Zealand. Nonetheless, as Spoonley (2005, 22) points out, “Biculturalism has occupied the pre-eminent place of political and policy debates, and there has been little room for multiculturalism.” He points out that the Maori—who wield significant political power—are unlikely to allow bicultural principles to be supplanted by multicultural ones. Moreover, he suggests that most attempts to develop a framework for multiculturalism tend to include, as a “first principle,” an acknowledgement of the Maori as the country’s first peoples; any movement toward multiculturalism would have to respect this principle.
  • Nonetheless, there is a government body, called the Office of Ethnic Affairs, which was launched in 2001 and provides advice to governments on ethnic communities. Its purpose is “to contribute to a strong, self-directed ethnic sector, and to promote the advantages of ethnic diversity for New Zealand (Office of Ethnic Affairs 2010). It manages an interpretation service to facilitate non-English speakers’ access to government services, promotes the development of intercultural competence and cross-cultural dialogue and provides resources and funding to support ethnic communities (ibid.). However, a briefing to the incoming Minister for Ethnic Affairs notes that it is the minister’s job to “advocate for Ethnic communities in government. There is no legislation, Crown entities or statutory bodies associated with this portfolio” (Department of Internal Affairs 2008). The briefing further notes that ethnic communities have lobbied for a multiculturalism act and while there is not currently such legislation, there are protections related to anti-discrimination and human rights.
  • A search of all statutes in New Zealand finds just one mention of multiculturalism. It is contained in the Law Commission Act 1985, which sets the parameters for the agency tasked with reviewing and making reforms to laws in the country. In section 2(a) of the act, it is noted that in making its recommendations, the commission should take into account the country’s Maori dimension and “shall also give consideration to the multicultural character of New Zealand.”
  • In other words, although multiculturalism certainly appears in New Zealand’s discourse and rhetoric, it is not affirmed through any constitutional, legislative or parliamentary instruments.


2. The adoption of multiculturalism in school curriculum

   Yes.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0.5 1 1

Evidence:

  • New Zealand’s social studies curriculum aims to build students’ understanding of the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi, the country’s bicultural heritage, and the multicultural nature of society (Ministry of Education 1997). Although schools design their own curricula, multiculturalism is one of the core values promoted within the country’s national standards for education (Keown et al. 2005).


3. The inclusion of ethnic representation / sensitivity in the mandate of public media or media licensing

   Yes.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • NZ On Air is the country’s broadcasting commission. It is an independent agency, created in 1989 and funded by the government to provide support for the production of local broadcasting content. One of its core values is diversity in projects, people and platforms, and it is committed to “promoting difference and competition to support the best ideas for the widest range of New Zealanders” (NZ On Air 2010).
  • The creation of NZ On Air was mandated in Part IV, section 36 of the Broadcasting Act 1989. The act tasks the agency with ensuring programming reflects New Zealand’s culture and identity. This includes the promotion of the Maori language and culture, as well as ensuring that broadcasting reflects the interests of women, children, youth, persons with disabilities, and ethnic minorities. There are also provisions to ensure broadcasting is reflective of the country’s diverse religious and ethical beliefs.
  • The act also created the Broadcasting Standards Authority, which oversees complaints about programming in New Zealand.


4. Exemptions from dress codes (either by statute or court cases)

   Some, although there are limitations and evidence of disputes.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0.5 0.5 0.5

Evidence:

  • New Zealand courts prohibit headwear inside courtrooms, although an exemption is allowed for religious headwear, most notably the turban (Kumar 2010). Nonetheless, in 2009, a Muslim woman was banned from a courtroom when she refused to remove her hijab; the judge later admitted he had made a mistake, noting that he had interpreted the hijab as a symbol of protest and thus ordered the woman removed (Thomson 2009).
  • New Zealand Police also have a uniform exemption for religious headwear (Human Rights Commission 2010b).
  • Still, in June 2010, a Sikh man was denied access to Auckland’s Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club because he was wearing a turban in breach of the club’s no-headwear policy. At a subsequent club meeting, only five of the club’s 304 members voted to amend the policy and allow an exclusion for religious headwear (Times of India 2010).


5. Allows dual citizenship

   Yes.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Nothing in the Citizenship Act 1977 prevents the holding of more than one citizenship, and New Zealand allows its citizens to hold multiple citizenships. This may be affected if such provisions are not upheld by the other country, however (Department of Labour 2010b).


6. The funding of ethnic group organizations or activities

   Limited.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 0.5

Evidence:

  • The Connecting Diverse Communities program is a whole-of-government approach to social cohesion that was launched in 2007. It aims to increase cross-cultural understanding and to strengthen relationships between the country’s diverse ethnic and religious communities. Although it brings together a number of programs and initiatives that have been undertaken by several government departments to further these goals, very few of the programs are specifically aimed at funding ethnic organizations. Much of the focus is on public engagement and the compilation of best practices, rather than targeted funding per se (Ministry of Social Development 2010).
  • Some funding is available, however, through the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust. The trust was established in 2005 as a gesture to Chinese migrants who had paid a head tax. The trust is administered by the Department of Internal Affairs and is intended to “strengthen the unique identity of Chinese New Zealanders” (Department of Internal Affairs 2010a). Applicants need not be Chinese or poll-tax descendants of early settlers, but proposals must have the support of the Chinese poll-tax descendent community and must be related to the objectives of the trust. Two rounds of funding are distributed each year, and projects may be related to the learning of Cantonese, recording and preserving Chinese history in New Zealand, raising public awareness about the contributions of ethnic diversity to New Zealand with an emphasis on early Chinese migration, and promoting Chinese arts and culture (Department of Internal Affairs 2010a). Grants are small and typically less than $5,000.
  • The Migrant Levy Fund is administered by the Department of Labour using funds assessed on immigration applications. It funds the provision of various settlement services, including language classes and interpretation, some of which are administered by ethnic organizations, most notably within the Chinese community (Department of Labour 2010a).
  • The Local Government and Community Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs also administers several community grant and funding schemes. These support various community organizations and local initiatives, although they are not explicitly aimed at ethnic organizations (Department of Internal Affairs 2010b). There are also a number of grants available through the Lottery Grants program, although again these are not explicitly targeted at ethnic organizations (Department of Internal Affairs 2010c).


7. The funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction

   Yes.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 1

Evidence:

  • New Zealand’s Curriculum Framework includes learning languages other than English. Schools may thus adopt second language programs for students. At present, these include programs in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Pasifika, Maori, Spanish, Korean and Indonesian. The government also supports an online community for language learning teachers, as well as a certificate program that is funded by the Ministry of Education and aimed at developing teacher competency and supports schools that have adopted language learning programs (Ministry of Education 2010).


8. Affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups

   No.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • New Zealand does not have an explicit affirmative action policy, but the government and other public sector employers are required to implement equal employment opportunity (EEO) policies within their workplaces. These do not consist of quotas or preferential hiring schemes, but aim to reduce workplace discrimination on the basis of gender, race and ethnicity, age and ability. This might include initiatives to help employees achieve a better work-life balance, to improve morale, or to adapt workplaces to accommodate diverse personnel. In practice, the EEO target groups in New Zealand have tended to be women, Maori, Pacific peoples, and persons with disabilities. Nonetheless, a report on New Zealand’s EEO strategy recommended greater attention be given to new migrants (Mintrom and True 2004).
  • New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission works to encourage employers to adopt EEO practices within their workplaces and adjudicates human rights complaints (Human Rights Commission 2010a). Note, however, that while New Zealand encourages EEO practices and has legislation related to human rights, policies related to employment equity are not codified in legislation but rather in a framework (Mintrom and True 2004). A recent report on EEO in New Zealand recommended the creation of a stronger monitoring agency (ibid.).
  • However, the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust does receive funding from the government of New Zealand to aid employers in their implementation of EEO practices and to raise awareness of diversity issues in the workplace (Equal Employment Opportunities Trust 2010).

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