Work­shops ex­plor­ing cul­tural di­ver­sity

The Leader (Tasman) - - GARDENING - TIM O'CON­NELL

Nel­son Mul­ti­cul­tural Coun­cil is seek­ing some an­swers into the grow­ing di­ver­sity of the Nel­son Tas­man re­gion.

The coun­cil has com­mis­sioned a se­ries of 11 work­shops be­tween Nel­son and Golden Bay to con­duct a needs as­sess­ment, iden­ti­fy­ing is­sues of im­por­tance for new mi­grants and for­mer refugees so they can thrive and flour­ish in our coun­try.

The NMC con­tracted Vic­to­ria Univer­sity’s Cen­tre for Ap­plied Cross-cul­tural Re­search to con­duct the work­shops and pro­duce a re­port.

The work­shops be­gan in Au­gust and will run un­til the end of Novem­ber.

These will be fa­cil­i­tated by staff from Vic­to­ria Univer­sity and as­sisted by a vol­un­teer from the Nel­son-Tas­man mi­grant com­mu­nity.

The in­for­ma­tion gath­ered will help guide NMC and other agen­cies about the sup­port they can of­fer new ar­rivals and those who have been liv­ing here for some time.

Work­shop co­or­di­na­tor Brigid Ryan said that given the re­gion’s di­ver­sity had grown sig­nif­i­cantly in the last decade, the ‘‘ac­tion re­search’’ pro­ject also served to pro­vide a timely up­date on a re­port pro­duced in 2004.

While not the most cul­tur­al­ly­di­verse, Ryan said Nel­son now had the third high­est per­cent­age of over­seas-born res­i­dents in NZ, while the for­mer refugee pop­u­la­tion had also in­creased to around 1500.

‘‘The thing with Nel­son is it does fly un­der the radar a lit­tle, and that’s an­other thing we’re try­ing to do is raise aware­ness.

‘‘Through the pro­ject we have made con­tact with peo­ple who may be feel­ing iso­lated,’’ she said.

‘‘There are peo­ple who are to­tally flu­ent in english but still don’t know where to start, but we’ve also had peo­ple in the room to­day who said they couldn’t find any­thing wrong, be­cause the ex­pe­ri­ence has been so pos­i­tive.’’

Along with mi­grants from South Amer­ica, Asia and Europe, Bri­tons Eric and Jen Scowcroft were among those of­fer­ing their time to con­trib­ute to the Nel­son work­shop held at Vic­tory Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

Hav­ing ar­rived in New Zealand just over a year ago, the cou­ple said their Kiwi ex­pe­ri­ence had been a good one so far.

‘‘We’ve had not se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial prob­lems but we’ve had great med­i­cal treat­ment – to be hon­est it’s been bet­ter than the NHS back home,’’ Jen said.

‘‘We feel like we live in the safest coun­try in the world, who could not en­joy liv­ing in a place like this?’’

While they were happy in Nel­son and have made some good con­nec­tions through fam­ily and the Nel­son New­bies group, the Scowcrofts ad­mit­ted it had taken some time to ad­just to the higher cost of liv­ing.

‘‘To en­joy a stan­dard of liv­ing sim­i­lar to the one we had in the UK, we’d need to spend con­sid­er­ably more money,’’ Eric said.

‘‘We spent 10 years liv­ing in France where we had a re­stored wa­ter mill on 10 acres with woods and streams, a huge barn and other prop­er­ties on the land, which we sold for not an aw­ful lot more than what we paid for a sec­tion in Nel­son.’’

A Nel­son Tas­man Ad­vi­sory Group has also been formed to guide this pro­ject. This group in­cluded Nel­son City Coun­cil,Tas­man Dis­trict Coun­cil, Red Cross, Po­lice and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Health, Ed­u­ca­tion, In­ter­nal Af­fairs, So­cial Devel­op­ment and MBIE ministries.

LUZ ZU­NIGA/ THE LEADER

Nel­son-Tas­man lo­cal mi­grants from all around the globe par­tic­i­pate in Nel­son Mul­ti­cul­tural Coun­cil and Vic­to­ria Univer­sity re­search to look at the grow­ing di­ver­sity of the re­gion.

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