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Find out about the history of Rotorua right here.
meeting of the Rotorua Multicultural Social and English Conversation Group
started at Rotorua Library on Wednesday 29 March.
Waitsu Wu from Rotorua Multicultural Council, the group meet at the library on
an informal basis on the last Wednesday of every month from 12-2pm to share
lunch, socialise and practice their English in conversation.
As the 30 group
attendees introduced themselves, the diversity of the group was apparent. Amongst
the home countries of those in the room were Poland, South Africa, China,
India, Wales, Japan, the Philippines and New Zealand. Their stories of
immigration were varied with some coming to New Zealand 40 years ago and others
arriving just 2 months ago. Some came directly to Rotorua while others made
Rotorua their home after settling in other cities and towns initially.
diversity, there were many shared experiences of establishing a new life in New
Zealand. For many, language and cultural differences had made some aspects of
everyday life difficult.
Multicultural Council President Dr Margriet Theron spoke at the meeting about
the benefits of a social multicultural group of this nature.
“New migrants and
residents have the opportunity to meet with locals who can provide specialist
services to the multicultural community. This helps break down language
barriers and provides relevant information about services that they may not
realise are available”.
As well as
learning about specialist services, group members are able to make connections
with each other and promote their own businesses.
One Rotorua Multicultural
initiative is connecting leaders of multicultural organisations with the New
Zealand Fire Service. Firefighter Shane MacKay addressed the group over lunch
to raise awareness of the importance of smoke alarms in homes. The New Zealand
Fire Service offer to visit homes and install smoke alarms for members of the
public but the uptake of this service can be impaired by language differences.
“Speaking at this
group is a great opportunity to reach out and say what we can offer to the
community” says MacKay.
Multicultural Treasurer Alexis LewGor explained that new migrants can be very
vulnerable and that the Multicultural Council had the experience and the links
to be able to support the multicultural community at a grass roots level with
education about New Zealand systems and service referrals where required.
Green MP Denise Roche also attended the lunch. As Green
Party spokesperson for Immigration,
Pacific Peoples, Ethnic Affairs, Roche has visited every Multicultural Council
in New Zealand in order to ask what could help new New Zealanders settle in
better. She has been fascinated by people’s settling in stories and has found
that a lack of services for immigrants in the past has challenged those people
to go on and create services and networks to help others.
Each group will
have a similar format but will be hosted by a different person each time. Last
Wednesday’s group was hosted by Eden Ross a member of Rotorua Multicultural
originally from China. She spoke about her experience in coming to New Zealand
20 years ago and the decision to move to Rotorua and brought spring rolls and
dumplings to share with the group.
“It’s a fantastic
group. Everyone is so friendly and
interesting and there is a chance for real personal attachments” says Ross.
The next group on
Wedenesday 26 April will be hosted by Lily Joy Al Omari. Al Omari is originally
from the Philippines but spent 24 years in Saudi Arabia before moving to
Rotorua just over a year ago. She is opening the new restaurant, TEAL, in three
weeks and will be sharing Mediterranean cuisine with the group when they next
New members are
welcome to come along and can bring their own lunch to eat or some of their
traditional food to share. For further information and to register your
interest visit our events page.