By 1 February 2012, there will be 1.5 million people living in Auckland, New Zealand, according to latest reports.
In 2011, of every 100 Aucklanders, 22 of them are of Asian decent. That’s more than the 11% of Maori and 16% of Pacific communities.And by 2021, Auckland is expected to have 27% people of Asian decent.
Yet Auckland is not ready for the number of Asians living here. Asians living here in Auckland is a mixture of older descendents and new migrants, all of which had different social and economic needs.
Having the Lantern and Diwali Festival is not the answer to promote better intercultural understanding between Asians and non-Asians. As a matter of fact, it continues to show Asians as “singing and dancing” communities.
As a matter of fact, the truth meaning behind the Lantern and Diwali Festivals are lost because they were organised by people who have little understanding of the history and culture behind the festivals.
The Auckland Council had an Auckland Plan that looks at the Auckland in the next 30 years. In it, it raised the importance of the changing diversity of Auckland, which included the growing Asian population.
With the lack of good understanding about the Asian population in Auckland, it failed to look at the following:
- Economic potential of the Asian Population:
- The Asian population in Auckland are mainly small to medium enterprises that have a trading relationship with Asian countries. They have the skills and knowledge to facilitate the trading relationships. Their economic contribution to this city is not recognised.
- For years I suggested that New Zealand companies should be working with Asians living in New Zealand, not just New Zealand companies who have worked in Asia. Many subtle cultural practices and behaviours are best advice by Asians who have an understanding of both worlds.
- Of the four BRICs, two of them are Asian countries. Asia is economically more reliable in 2012 than European countries. The potential is huge and it is understood that the economic growth in China is showing no signs of slowing.
- With the growing number of Asians living in Auckland, it also provided an internal business opportunity that Auckland businesses can do to maximise their economic growth.
- Language and cultural conservation:
- The Auckland Plan showed the importance of protecting and promoting Maori and Pasifika languages. The Cantonese language is dying, despite the efforts by Poll Tax Heritage Trust. The Chinese schools running in Auckland are all running at a lost because they are all community run. Little are there to look at protecting and promoting Asian languages here in Auckland.
- For years, many knows that the Lantern and Diwali Festivals are not change-makers. Asians are not all singing and dancing. The public sees Asians as Festivals. A lot more can be done.
- Growing needs of aged population:
There is a growing number of aged population, particularly those who are new to this city. They often have communication problems, and need proper aged care support. Aged care support in Auckland for the ethnic community is lacking and the service is poor. My colleague Jeet Sachdev is working on building a culturally appropriate aged care service for the South Asian communities, however, free and lack support from the mainstream.
- Economic impact of Asian population overseas:
What happens in Asia has an impact in New Zealand. For example, the growing number of Dragon Babies in Asia is going to have an economic and social impact to Kiwis in Auckland. Unless Aucklanders is taking notice of it now, it could become a problem.
Auckland is not doing much at the moment to prepare a plan for the growing Asian population and continues to see them as “foreigners”. From economic and social perspectives, there can only be more good than harm to prepare and plan now.