1st March 2012 marks the first anniversary of the establishment of the Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel and the Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel for the Auckland Council. Under the Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill, the Panels were established to make sure that the voice of the Ethnic and Pacific communities be heard. With the help of the Office of Ethnic Affairs and Ministry of Pacific Islands Affairs, 12 and 13 people were selected respectively, and appointed by the Mayor. The 25 people do not represents specific ethnic communities, and they are chosen for their skills, knowledge, connections and abilities to offer unbiased strategic and governance.
The Panels are to provide advice to the Council and Mayor on issues related to the ethnic and Pacific communities, from economic development, social development, youth, engagement, and policies. They do not have decision making powers and these positions are not paid. The Panels meet monthly and have hosted additional hui where necessary. Annual reviews take place to advice the Council and the government on how it has operated and provide advice on future developments.
The Panels are delighted to be invited to various ethnic events and in the recent months, the different Chinese New Year events across town and organisations, Indian festivals and the Japan Day. This allowed the Panel to engage with the communities and reassured them with our presence.
2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relationships between China and New Zealand; and the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relationships between Japan and New Zealand. Members of the Ethnic Panel attended the launch of the NZ Inc China Strategy by New Zealand government recently. China is now the second largest trading partner with New Zealand, behind Australia. Trading between primary resources and people are equally important.
The Mayor will be visiting China in April to further strengthen the relationships between cities. Various New Zealand sectors are increasingly aware of the Chinese presence here locally and are exploring how business opportunities could be further developed.
The relationship between different communities in Auckland and overseas will continue to grow. Better understanding between both places are increasingly important for both social and economic development. As the youngest member of the Panel, I am honoured to have this opportunity to partake in this historical milestone for Auckland and New Zealand.
*Disclaimer: the view expressed here is my own personal view and does not represents those of the Panel, the Auckland Council or the government.