Workshops exploring cultural diversity
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.
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.