Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies

Multiculturalism Policies

in Contemporary Democracies

Multiculturalism Policies

in Contemporary Democracies

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New Zealand

flag of New Zealand
   
TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 2.5 5 5 6 6.5

 

* A NOTE ON CHANGES TO NEW ZEALAND'S 2010 SCORES
The 2016 Revised Edition of this paper previously scored New Zealand as 0.5 on Exemptions from Dress Codes. However, research uncovered in the current edition revealed that some notable changes to laws regarding religious headwear were instituted prior to 2010. This includes the accommodation of religious dress in police uniforms in 2008, and the 2005 decision to allow Sikhs to wear the turban in place of a helmet on motorcycles (Spennemann 2020). As such, the 2010 score for exemptions is now listed as 1.0 to reflect such policy changes. 

 

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.

   
Affirmation Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0.5 0.5 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 and provides the basis for bicultural recognition of the state with respect to the Maori (Spoonley 2005, 19-21).
  • The 1985 Law Commission Act requires the Law Commission to review laws while taking into account both the special place of the Maori in New Zealand and New Zealand's multicultural character. 
  • 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. As Simon-Kumar (2019) aptly describes: “In many institutional spaces, biculturalism is framed as an equity issue, and multiculturalism as a diversity issue: the former requiring political restitution and the latter sociocultural accommodation. Formulas have been advanced to negotiate a common ground—frameworks such as ‘treaty-based multiculturalism’ or ‘bicultural multiculturalism’ among them—that demarcate the distinct political spaces for Māori and new migrants. These measures notwithstanding, the bicultural-multicultural dilemma is still unresolved.”
  • Nonetheless, a government body, called the Office of Ethnic Affairs, was launched in 2000 to provide advice to governments on ethnic communities. In 2015, it was renamed the Office of Ethnic Communities, and it remains “the government’s principal advisor on ethnic diversity in New Zealand” (Office of Ethnic Communities 2020). 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.). A recent Briefing to the Incoming Minister of Ethnic Communities (Office of Ethnic Communities 2017) describes the minister as playing a lead role in shaping policy priorities pertaining to diversity, and outlines the minister’s responsibility to connect with ethnic communities to ensure their perspectives are at the forefront of policy development. 
  • A search of all statutes in New Zealand finds just one mention of multiculturalism. It is contained in the Law Commission Act 1985, whichsets 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 thatin 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 effect, 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.

   
School Curriculum Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0.5 1 1 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. The Ministry of Education (2020) asserts that cultural diversity in school curricula “reflects our linguistically and culturally diverse nation; affirms students’ different cultural identities; incorporates students’ cultural contexts into teaching and learning programmes; is responsive to diversity within ethnic groups; helps students understand and respect diverse viewpoints, values, customs, and languages.”
  • The National Education Guidelines of 1989 require that schools develop charters that reflect both New Zealand's cultural diversity, and the special place of the Maori (Ministry of Education 2012). Curriculum reports in New Zealand in 1994 and 1997 note the active adoption of multiculturalism in the English and Social Studies Curriculums respectively (Keown et al. 2005, 131-145). In 2004, respect for diverse ethnic and cultural heritage in New Zealand was included as a National Education Goal (Ministry of Education 2009).
  • The Ministry of Education’s (2018) Statement of Intent 2018-2023 discusses the importance of inclusion and equality in New Zealand’s curricula. It highlights the changing demographics in the country and the continued need to incorporate cultural diversity into all aspects of school programming. 

 

3. THE INCLUSION OF ETHNIC REPRESENTATION/SENSITIVITY IN THE MANDATE OF PUBLIC MEDIA OR MEDIA LICENSING

    Yes.

   
Media Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 1 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • The 1976 Broadcasting Act did not include ethnic or cultural diversity in the principles that should guide either public or general broadcasting (Broadcasting Act 1976, 1981).
  • The 1989 New Zealand Broadcasting Act requires the Broadcasting Commission to ensure that programing reflects New Zealand's diverse religious and ethnic communities (Broadcasting Act 1989, 2013). The Television New Zealand Act 2003 also asserts that television should “promote understanding of the diversity of cultures making up the New Zealand population” (Section 12(b)). A similar mandate is written in the Radio New Zealand Act 1995 (Section 7(1b)), which upholds that radio services offer “a range of New Zealand programmes, including information, special interest, and entertainment programmes, and programmes which reflect New Zealand's cultural diversity, including Maori language and culture.”
  • NZ On Air is the country’s broadcasting commission. It is an independent agency, created in 1989 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, and it funded by the government to provide support for the production of local broadcasting content. One of its core values is diversity, including 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.
  • NZ On Air recently published a Diversity Report, “as both a response to, and a contribution towards, discussions about gender, ethnicity and regional production representation in the local screen sector” (NZ On Air 2020, 3). The report notes that although there have been some improvements in the representation of marginalized groups on screen, persons of Asian descent remain underrepresented as directors, producers, and writers. In response to this finding, the report asserts that NZ on Air will continue to prioritize programming that supports diversity and inclusion, especially projects that engage with Asian audiences.  

 

4. EXEMPTIONS FROM DRESS CODES (EITHER BY STATUTE OR COURT CASES)

    Yes.

   
Exemption Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0.5 0.5 0.5 1 1

Evidence:

  • The Race Relations Act (1971), which came into force in 1972, makes it unlawful to deny people access to public places based on race,ethnic, or national origin. 
  • New Zealand courts prohibit headwear inside courtrooms, although an exemption is allowed for religious headwear, most notably the turban (Kumar 2010). Nonetheless, in 2004, a New Zealand court judge did not allow a Muslim woman to give testimony wearing a burqa, but did allow her to give testimony behind a screen visible to only the judge, counsel, and female court staff (Human Rights Commission 2005). Also, 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 have a uniform exemption for religious headwear (Booker 2008; BBC News 2020; Spennemann 2020).
  • The New Zealand Transport Agency (2020) allows some exemptions on religious grounds regarding the use of bicycle and motorcycle helmets, so long as you can prove you are a member of the Sikh religion and are only travelling up to 50km/h. 
  • Religious headwear is also permitted in visa, passport, and drivers’ license photos, so long as one’s face and hairline is visible (New Zealand Immigration 2020a).

 

5. ALLOWS DUAL CITIZENSHIP

    Yes.

   
Dual Citizenship Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 1 1 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

    Yes.

   
Funding Ethnic Groups Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 1 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • The Community Organization Grants Scheme (COGS) has been in operation since 1986. It provides support to a variety of different community organizations. Ethnic minority organizations are listed as priority organizations for grants dating at least as far back as 2003. Money has continued to go to ethnic minority organizations through the COGS program (Department of Internal Affairs 2020a; Department of Internal Affairs 2004, 5; Bellett and Teague 2010, 42).
  • Since 2004, funding has been available to Chinese community organizations through the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust Fund. This money is part of restitution for New Zealand's poll tax on members of the Chinese community (Department of Internal Affairs 2020b). 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 2020b). 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 2020b). Grants are small and typically less than $5,000.
  • The Ethnic Communities Development fund was introduced in 2016 through the Office of Ethnic Communities. It delivers $4.2 million annually to fund projects that support ethnic communities (including migrants, refugees, long-term residents, and citizens from minority backgrounds) “to grow their skills, celebrate their culture and take part in society” (Office of Ethnic Communities 2020b).
  • The Lottery Community Grants are also available to not-for-profit organizations that aid in improving local communities. Although it is not exclusively targeted toward ethnic communities, the fund prioritizes projects aiming to assist Maori, Pacific peoples, and ethnic communities, including new immigrants and refugees (Department of Internal Affairs 2020c), along with other marginalized populations in New Zealand. 
  • The Migrant Levy Fund was administered by the Department of Labour using funds assessed on immigration applications. It funded 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 Migrant Levy Fund was replaced in 2015 by the Immigration Levy Fund, which supports settlement services that are consistent with the goals outlined in the Migrant Settlement and Integration Strategy (New Zealand Immigration 2020b).  

 

7. THE FUNDING OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION OR MOTHER TONGUE INSTRUCTION

Yes.

   
Bilingual Education Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • Until 2005 New Zealand lacked a strategy with respect to language education. In 2007 and 2008 there was limited policy in place to ensure that immigrants could obtain mother tongue education (Human Rights Commission 2008, 4). However, the 2009/2010 Workforce Advisory Group recommended bolstering New Zealand's capacity in a variety of cultural identities and languages (Ministry of Education 2010a, 18).
  • New Zealand’s Curriculum Framework includes learning languages other than English. Schools may thus adopt second language programs for students. 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 2010b).
  • Much of the focus around language education in recent years has centered on the development of Maori language learning in schools, as outlined in the Ministry of Education’s (2013) policy framework on Tau Mai Te Reo: The Māori Language in Education Strategy 2013–2017. There has also been an uptick in programming targeted toward heritage language education, specifically for Pasifika languages (Seals 2017).
  • The Ministry of Education (2014) also outlines the primary objectives of language learning on their curriculum website. They note the importance of developing communication and language skills, but also highlight the importance of cultural knowledge in strengthening students’ understanding of diverse languages, cultures, and communities.
  • In 2018, the Auckland Languages Strategy Working Group (2018) released a strategy for improving language education in New Zealand. The strategy outlines a 15-year plan for improving access to language instruction in New Zealand schools to ensure the continued development of community- and heritage-language learning. Some of the key steps noted in the document include advancing language learning frameworks in all levels of schooling, and providing greater training and professional development opportunities for teachers.

 

8. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR DISADVANTAGED IMMIGRANT GROUPS

    No.

   
Affirmative Action Scores
Year: 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
Score: 0 0 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, 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 2021). 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 report on EEO in New Zealand recommended the creation of a stronger monitoring agency (Ibid.).
  • However, the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust (since 2016, known as Diversity Works) 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 (Diversity Works 2020).
  • The Office of Ethnic Communities (2020c) established a nominations service in 2018 that maintains a database of individuals from ethnic communities that are qualified to be appointed to State sector boards and committees. The central aim of this initiative is to increase diversity within the public sector but limited information is available on the status of the database and its success in appointing representatives from diverse backgrounds to available positions. A request for information was submitted to the Minister of Ethnic Communities in 2019 inquiring about the success of the program. The Minister noted that, at the time, there were 87 candidates in the database; the Office had received confirmation on the appointment of five candidates to roles on four boards (Salesa 2019).
  •