Uniting Our Cultures
The History of the Auckland Multicultural Society 1978 – 2000
by Catherine M. Caughey MBE
This publication was dedicated to John Bucklandd
I wish to thank John Buckland for his immense patience and kindness in editing this history of the Auckland Mulitcultural Society. John has been the voluntary Secretary for the Society for twelve years which has eminently qualified him to fill in and contribute to these writings He has worked tirelessly for our Society which owes him everlasting appreciation.
In the twenty or so years that have passed since the Auckland Multiculturtal Society was founded, the ethnic composition of the population of greater Auckland has changed beyond any of our imaginings. How far-sighted those founders were.
High points I recall during my terms as Mayor were the splendid exhibition “Sharing Our Cultures in 1990” and song and dance concerts in the Town Hall.
The Society has made a valuable contribution to the integration of new settlers in this country and to the wider community in enhancing our appreciation and enjoyment of societies and cultures other than our own,
Long may it continue.
Dame Catherine Tizard GCMG, DBE, GCVO, QSO
Uniting our Cultures
The History of the Auckland Multicultural Society Inc. 1978-2000
The seed was sown in New Zealand in 1978. Every year the United Nations stipulates that the world should honour and work for a good ’cause’. The UN chose 1979 as the International Year of the Child,. referred to in this book from hence as IYC.The New Zealand Government took up the challenge with enthusiasm. A National Committee was appointed in Wellington chaired by Mr Jim Belich. Each main city in the country set up a Committee and Auckland’s was chaired by the Most Reverend Bishop E R Gaines.
The United Nations set out the Rights of the Child:
These include the Right
* to affection, love and understanding
* to adequate nutrition and medical care
* to free education
* to full opportunity for play and recreation
* to name and nationality
* to special care if handicapped
* to be among the first to receive relief in times of disaster
* to learn to be a useful member of society and to develop individual abilities
* to be brought up in the spirit of peace and universal brotherhood
* to enjoy these rights, regardless of race, colour, sex, religion, national or social origin.
The National Committee gave each month of the year a Theme:
January The Child in Play and Creativity
February The Child in Care
March The Child and Family
April The Child and Health
May The Child – Work and Vocation
June The Child and Learning
July The Child and the Media
August The Child in a Multicultural Society
September The Child at Risk
October The Child in the World
November The Law and Rights of the Child
December The Child’s View.
Bishop Gaines called the first meeting at the Town Hall Council Chamber on Thursday May 25th 1978. Ten of us had been nominated to stand for election and ten were appointed. The Child Health Foundation, on which I was a Board Member, had nominated me for the Child and Health Theme.
Bishop Gaines called for nominations for those to convene each Theme month. We got to the Child and Health theme, when a woman from Plunket jumped up and said she would convene that month. I was nominated to help her. When The Child and the Multi – cultural theme came up, there were no nominations. Eventually a Tongan whom I had never met, nominated me. I thought hard. I was freed from the Child and Health and my late husband Dr Ron Caughey was a consulting paediatrician in Auckland and had patients of many nationalities and I had met many people of other cultures, so I accepted.
I decided to call a meeting within two weeks. I telephoned Mrs Paddy Walker OBE who had founded PASIFIKA. This united all the Pacific Islands women in a kind of women’s institute, bringing them together. Paddy was very helpful and said that I must approach their various Associations and ask them to nominate a representative to sit on our Committee. I then phoned the Consuls of the other leaders of ethnic groups inviting them to join us or send nominees.
The following came:
Mrs Betty Wark Maori People Arohanui Inc.
Mrs Nga Robati Cook Islands
Mrs Betty Tongalea Niue Island Advisory Council
Mrs Alice Ripley Samoa and Pasifika
Mr Alexi Huni Tongan
Mr Anthony Segedin Yugoslav
Mr Tupae Pepe Representing the Pan Pacific and SE Asian Women’s Assn.
Mrs Annette Faigan Union of Jewish Women
Mr Balvantray Patel NZ Indian Association
Mr Ed Kulick Dutch Society
Mrs Megammon Dutch Society
Dr Peter Lee Auckland Chinese Community
Mrs Kath Doran Irish Society
Mrs E N Delaney Irish Society
Dr Peter Sharples Race Relations Assistant
Mr K Yamashita Japanese Consul ( Observing )
Archdeacon Kingi Ihaka Maori Culture
Mr Philip Munro Maori Culture assistant
Mrs Catherine Caughey British New Zealander (Convener)
Our voluntary secretary was Mrs Catherine Mudgway
We all gathered at my home in Portland Road in July 1978 for our first meeting. I looked around the room wondering what on earth we could plan for our children. We were not only a grand mixture of cultures, but also most diverse in education and in social structure.
Betty Wark was most vocal on how we must help the ‘Child at Risk’. Betty was in charge of the Maori Hostel for first offenders. She was worried about the number of ‘Street Kids’ out there. I tried to explain that there was a Theme month for the Child at Risk and she should refer these problems to their Convener. Betty even brought a youth from the Arohanui home with her.
Everybody thought that IYC was a good idea, but there were no suggestions on what we could achieve. The meeting was fairly short, and then I turned on a large supper for everybody. As I was pouring the tea I overheard the Chinese representative exclaim to the Indian that their Society really did not have children at risk, and as he was a very busy person he thought he would not continue to come. The Indian agreed that they did not have children in prison, and the Jewess overheard them and agreed that in her culture young people were also well behaved.
This made me think hard! If three cultures could bring up children in this city without crime, the rest of us had a lot to learn about them. I requested each one of them to return to their communities and to get their ideas and to return in two weeks, so that we could go ahead and start planning for our children in August 1979.
I was very interested when the Samoan delegate, while departing offered me some money towards the supper that I had provided, and the Niuean representative brought out a paper bag to put the remains of the food left on the table to take home with her. I was beginning to learn that we all have different customs!
During those two weeks I did a lot of thinking. What had we all in common? What could we achieve for our children in Auckland? English was a second language to them all. We must do something that would unite us: Music, Song and Dance and Arts and Crafts.
When I shared my thoughts at our next meeting they all agreed that it was a good idea, and they would back me if I did all the organizing. In the meanwhile I attended the monthly meetings of our Committee in the Town Hall, chaired by Bishop Gaines. We each reported on our progress. I submitted a copy of our Minutes. I think there was only one other group that took Minutes.
When I spoke to anyone mentioning the multicultural nature of our society, they immediately thought that meant our Polynesian community. Auckland had already become the largest Polynesian city in the world. Paddy Walker had recently had much publicity in the press and other media referring to the multicultural side of Auckland meaning Polynesian.
As 1979 dawned our group enlarged. We were joined by:-
Mrs Giselle Schenirer Jewish Community
Mrs Anneka Drupsteen Dutch replacement.
Mr Stanley King Chinese
Dr Thomas Ho Chinese
Mr Daniel Singh Fiji Association
Mr Parshu Sharma Fiji Association
Miss Ani Pihema Maori, Orakei Marae
Mrs Bea Thompson Maori, Orakei Marae
Miss Veve Jacobson Tongan Community
Miss Siulangapo Niuean Community
I began to search for helpers and venues for our activities. I went to the Music Education department to enquire if anyone could help with the music. Our group had decided that they would like five songs, which would include
a lullaby sung by children aged between 5 – 10 years old.
a National song.
a nursery rhyme.
and a folk song.
These were to be sung in the native tongue of each group as well as in English. John Orams volunteered to help. He had very sophisticated recording equipment. He visited our groups when they had trained up their children’s choirs. These recordings are available in the National Film Library ready for schools to borrow. John Orams was a most enthusiastic person and we enjoyed his involvement with us.
Next we had to find a venue for an Exhibition we decided to stage. I wrote a letter to the Auckland Museum Council to see if we might hold our exhibition at the Museum and also have the loan of their Auditorium, a lovely hall with plush seats for 400 people and a large stage. The hall was heated and there was an excellent sound system and video-slide apparatus. The cost to hire was $400 a night but because we were working for IYC it was granted to us free with the Supper Room for our ethnic supper at the end of our programme.
We found one snag, their Exhibition Hall was booked for August, but they could offer us from 15th-30th September. I had to get permission from the Committee to postpone our Theme until September. I also could not find anywhere to hold the Concert that we were planning. We had hoped for the Town Hall, but that was unavailable. Kings College out at Otahuhu had just completed building a magnificent theatre with seating for 1,000.
I made an appointment with Mr Iain Campbell, the Headmaster whom I knew slightly and asked him if we might have the use of his beautiful new hall on September 22nd for 12 groups to perform. He was most generous and granted us the honour.
At the next meeting in my house we went into details for the preparations that we all had to make. Our ideas for the Exhibition were to display arts and crafts from the country of origin, as well as what the children were doing today in Auckland. Richard Wolfe was head of the Display Unit at the Musuem. He was wonderfully kind and generous with his time and assisted us in every possible way. There would be 15 groups displaying so each group would have its own cubicle. He designed our letterhead and logo which was the map of Auckland Province superimposed on the outline of the globe, with the words Multicultural Society Group of Auckland.
I realized that I was solely responsible for setting up the British-New Zealand cubicle. This I knew I could not manage, so first I called on the Headmistress of Diocesan School to see if their staff could take it over for me, but they declined. Then I went to St Cuthberts College and the Headmistress introduced me to the Art department. She arranged a time when I could meet them all and inform them of our aims for the Multicultural Group and for my need for help in setting up the British-New Zealand cubicle. They agreed to take it over and became most enthusiastic.
Richard Wolfe organized the advertising to the public at the Museum’s expense. He arranged that we could come and start setting up a week before during Museum hours from 10am-5pm. Philip Munro who was a school teacher and was responsible for the Maori cubicle twice asked Richard to permit him to come after hours. Also Philip asked to borrow many artifacts of Maori origin from the Museum itself. Richard Wolfe was very hard working and generous with his time. He did all the labelling for us, and this was most difficult as nearly all the groups added articles at the last moment. Richard headed each cubicle with large letters signifying the ethnic group. None of us had ever experienced setting up an exhibition.
We thought it would be most colourful if we hung our National flags over the entrance to the foyer. Here we struck a problem. We had not realized that one of our Chinese came from Mainland China and the other from Taiwan. Most certainly their countries would not permit their flags to be flown together. Then our delegates had to go to their Consuls to apply for permission to display, sharing a cubicle at our Exhibition. This was granted solely because their children were New Zealanders. They used a separate wall each.
Meanwhile we decided on whom we should invite to the Museum. We had a long list including the Prime Minister, the Mayor, Sir Dove Myer Robinson, the Museum Council, Tongan Royalty, the Consuls of the different ethnic groups, the Director and staff of the Museum and the Headmistress and Art Staff of St Cuthbert’s College. I was made responsible for designing and printing the invitations and Annette Faigan the programmes. I went to Hughes and Cossar, who generously donated a non-alcoholic punch and all the glasses and bowl for 400 people. Mr Wayne Hughes came himself and set up all the glasses for us and made the punch, all at no charge. We also served tea and coffee.
On the night of the opening all came in their national costumes. The children lined up with a token gift from their country and a greeting for the Mayor, and a greeting for all the VIP’s on the stage. The children looked so small and dainty. There were a few speeches and Philip Munro, in a quite impromptu interlude, sang “Po kare kare ana”
calling me up on to the stage. The whole audience was moved, and joined in with him. After this we all viewed the Exhibition. Mrs Drupsteen gave away red tulips from Holland. The evening was completed with our ethnic supper. Each group had brought a national dish, so the variety was tasty and new to most of us.
The press and other media were most enthusiastic in first promoting and then commenting on our Exhibition. I was interviewed several times by Radio New Zealand and they also came to interview several groups as we set up our cubicles. The New Zealand Herald on 21st September 1979 had a large photograph and title: ‘Looking in on others’ and they confirmed that we had 10,000 visitors in the first week. The Auckland Star (18/9/79) had a photograph entitled: ‘Hats off to them’. They had a large front page photo of children trying on Cook Islands straw hats and another of an Indian child gazing at a model of an Indian woman with a water-pot on her head.
What was most rewarding was the support of the staff of the Museum’s Education Service, who arranged a stream of school children from both State and private schools of intermediate and senior levels. Another great experience was that those friends and relatives of various cultures came to see their own display in family groups. Many had never been in the Museum before. They then wandered round to look at other ethnic groups and then ventured on to see the Museum itself.
Our Exhibition proved to be a most rewarding and successful experience for all concerned and we owe a debt of gratitude to the Museum Council, Director and all personnel.
While we were all deeply involved with the exhibition, we were also preparing for our Song and Dance Concert at Kings College, Otahuhu on 22nd of September 1979. Again I had the job of sending out the invitations and designing the programmes. Annette Faigan organized the publishing for us. The design on the front yellow cover was a map of New Zealand, our country, and then a rope which entwined into threads, and each strand was attached to the name of each ethnic group which was to perform. We would be united as a strong rope and so united, we symbolized a strong nation.
The last dance was the English Maypole, where all our cultures linked arms and held on to the coloured ribbons, entwining each other as they wove them around the pole. We wrote on our programmes
“The many cultural threads which make up the culture of our society are,
through our children, being woven and entwined into one strong unified
New Zealand people, just as the ribbons of the maypole are entwined.”
Each dance had a story to tell. This was printed in the programme. Performing groups were most anxious that I would arrange for the performance to be videotaped. I engaged a professional company at a reasonable cost, but when I reported this to our IYC meeting at the Town Hall, another member said that she knew of a young man who was excellent, and would probably do it much cheaper; so I felt obliged to do as she recommended. The Committee would be paying our expenses as we had no funds available.
Archdeacon Kingi Ihaka opened the afternoon for us by quoting from a Maori proverb of all sharing from the one food basket. We paid respect to the Maori people, being the tangata whenua and they presented the first item.
Sylvia Vowless, a professional choreographer of the Korobuschka Dance Group, had only one hour to rehearse the groups before their act, but none had time to do a full rehearsal. Her friend Peter King was wonderful taking over the sound and stage lighting. Suddenly he noticed that the man who was doing the video for us had not a clue of what he was doing.
The machine was jumping from colour to black and white, and the sound was all over the place. He was hopping around and making a terrible hash. What a tragic let-down for us all. He then had the audacity to send me a bill for $1000 for his efforts. He would not listen to me when I explained that the IYC Committee would be handling this.
The next thing I knew was, after dark, a strange man was at my door, and he handed me a summons calling me to Court! This was for not paying the bill. I took this to the Committee, and left it with them. Pauline Kingi looked at it, and stated that I had been given the wrong length of notice, which was legally too short. The Committee said they would handle it all for me. At the same time, each evening I was being badgered by unpleasant phone calls where the fellow attempted a different accent each time. As soon as the Committee lawyer took over the case, my disturbing phone calls ceased.
Again the press was most supportive. The Auckland Star had a huge photograph of Niuean children greeting one another by the pinching of one another’s ears! There was another photograph of the Maypole Dance, dated 24th September 1979. What a pity that there was no press colour photography in those days!
On Saturday night June 30th there was a nationwide Telethon held for IYC during which $2,000,000 was raised to support the children of New Zealand. Our Society thought it would be a good idea if we could make an educational film showing the differences in the lifestyles of our many cultures and so to build understanding amongst us.
I set about finding how this could be done. John Orams took me to the North Shore Teachers College where I was introduced to John Buckland, who was head of the Social Studies Department. He also introduced me to Geoff Stephens of Seehear Productions. I managed through John Buckland to get references and backing from the Multicultural Education Advisory Committee at North Shore Teachers’ College; Mr Iosua, Pacific Islands Education Resource Centre; Auckland Pasifika; the Education Resources Division; the Department of Education; (Mr Aitken) Wellington; Mr Puriri, Department of Maori Affairs, (Auckland); Dr Peter Sharples, the Race Relations Conciliator, as well as the leaders of our ethnic groups.
This application was sent to the Telethon Committee in Wellington plus a detailed estimate from the film company which came to $132,250. Alas, we were turned down by the Wellington Committee, but eventually Mr Jim Belich, the IYC National Chairperson wrote to me from Wellington a personal letter with congratulations for all our successes, and to pass on congratulations to all the ethnic groups in our Society. He said that I would hear later how much money they would decide to give us.
On August 12th at 3pm. there was a special church service held for our Society at the Auckland Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. The Very Reverend Dean Rymer gave the Welcome. We sang the hymn “O God our help in ages past’, then the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child was read in full. Next the International Year of the Child song was presented. Psalm 127 from the Old Testament Bible was read by the Jewish community. Their representative sang “Lord of the Universe”.
There were prayers in Niuean, Rarotongan, Maori, and English, followed by a hymn sung by the Tongan Male Choir. The Bishop of Auckland, The Right Reverend Paul Reeves gave the address. A hymn was sung by the Croatian community. The Bishop gave the Blessing, followed by all singing the first verse of the New Zealand National Anthem. “God Defend New Zealand”.
As part of recognition of IYC Year, the New Zealand Post Office printed a 10c stamp
with three children of different ethnic groups. Ten cents was the postage for an ordinary local letter in 1979.
We had a most pleasant surprise when Mr Balvantary Patel from the Auckland Indian Association invited us all to dinner at Gandhi Hall on the night of December 1st 1979. This was great occasion. He surprised me by saying that he wished me to be dressed in his wife’s beautiful scarlet and gold sari. Mrs Patel took me to a back room and kindly dressed me. What an honour they accorded me. After greeting everyone, Mr Patel explained that the evening was planned to give us all fellowship and enjoyment, but also to inform us about Indian culture.
The food offered was all Indian with vegetable curries. The Indians were nearly all Hindu where they came from, so beef was forbidden. Mr Patel said it was normal for the men to eat first and then the women and children and that they ate with their right hands. (The left hand was for the toilet.) As we were not all Indian, he invited us all to enjoy the meal together. There were may dishes and they were all most tasty.
After the meal Sushula Srinivasan gave us a most enlightening talk on an Indian marriage and how it is an arranged marriage. The bride goes to live with the husband’s family until she bears a son. She then told us a little about how they bring up their children. The families are very close knit. We were then shown an absolutely beautiful film of Indian scenery.
The evening ended with Mr Patel giving a speech, saying how much he had enjoyed working with the Multicultural Society Group and how it had opened his eyes to a greater Auckland. Up until now he had worked in his greengrocer’s shop and greeted his customers but never had the opportunity of getting to know them. He then asked why the Multicultural Group could not continue – it was such a worthwhile organization.
We then held a vote and it was unanimous that we should continue. The venue of the Pacific Islands Education Resource Centre in Jervois Road, Ponsonby, was offered for our meetings.
We are the only group from all New Zealand which was born through IYC that has continued and thrived.
Mr Daniel Singh from the Fiji Association was elected our first Chairperson for 1980. Mrs Annette Faigan from the Jewish Community was our Secretary. Mr Anthony Culav from the Croatian Society was our Treasurer and our total funds were $60.
Mr John Buckland from the North Shore Teachers College was co-opted to join our Society as our educational adviser. This was a great asset to us all. Lynette Curran joined from the Tongan Society and Vinnetta Heem from the Samoan community.
The meetings were to be held on the first Monday of each month, the AGM being in March. We started by setting up some ‘Rules’ for our Society. We planned at the AGM to have elections and to be very democratic, hoping for a different culture to take the position of the chair annually. We decided that our purpose was educational and we would aim at bringing understanding and respect for one another. We decided that in no way would we be political as this often brings rifts. We could not have an executive committee as then we would not be able to share the decisions. This certainly slowed our deliberations, but they were shared by all. We would use 1980 as a trial year, for it is often after a successful experience that people could lose enthusiasm and things may peter out.
We were pleased when we eventually received a letter and cheque from Jim Belich in Wellington for $5,000. He admitted it would not produce a film, but it could serve as our capital for future planning. This was at least a good foundation for us to build on. It was to be used for education.
The Fiji Association sent each of us an invitation to an Indian music and dance concert at the Town Hall on 3rd May 1980. The cast was made up of famous artists trained in Delhi and had performed world-wide.
Auckland Boys’ Grammar School most generously made available their new Centennial Theatre for ‘A Family Affair’ which Daniel organized to be run from 2pm – 4.30pm on Saturday July 5th. I cautioned him that although at one meeting he had arranged the programme that different cultures had different customs, and that it would pay for him to check on each to see how their preparations were progressing. He did not heed my advice, and on the day, two of the groups never turned up, so the programme had to be tactfully changed.
John Orams informed us that Wednesday Oct 1st was known as International Music Day, and with his co-operation, we organized a concert at 7.30 pm at Epsom Girls’ Grammar School Hall. We gathered 100 musicians from our different countries and the press again supported us with photographs and a good review. This was a most successful event.
On November 8th the Indian Association invited us to their Diwali celebration or Festival of Lights. I went with our Cook Islands representative, Mrs Nga Robati, who was delighted. Alexi Huni from Tonga suggested that each month a cultural representative should give a talk on how they named their children. He gave the first talk. I was amazed that the husband’s eldest sister names the children, and in fact has a great say in the family affairs.
John Buckland suggested that he could start work on editing family studies of members of our group, drawing on the skills of some of his senior students at North Shore Teachers’ College. They would carry out interviews with members of different families as part of one of his courses of Pacific Islands studies. Of course, other cultural groups would be included. This proposal was approved. Daniel had become very unwell after hurting his back, so was unable to chair all the meetings. Annette Fagan chaired one meeting and Ani Pihema another. Daniel finally had to have a spinal operation.
One tragedy occurred that year. Mr Pasha Shama’s sixteen year-old daughter died. Many of us attended her Hindu funeral. On 2nd of April 1980, Mr Pasha Shama was a priest so he took the funeral in Hindi. Daniel translated much of it into English. Students from her form at Epsom Grammar attended. We were each given a dahlia flowerhead to place in her open coffin with a prayer. We moved from the chapel to the Crematorium where her brothers washed their mouths in water as an outward sign of purification, Then they walked around the coffin with prayers for her next life carrying flaming torches. After this the congregation left, leaving only the immediate family for the last rights and cremation.
The Council secretarial staff at the Town Hall had assisted us with our mailing. The postage had been paid by the IYC Commission. I attended the last meeting in the Town Hall on December 4th 1980.
When we held elections in 1981 we all prayed for guidance. Daniel becoming ill had upset us. Where were we going? The dawn of the New Year appeared grey. I was appointed to the chair which was really a new experience for me.
We decided that we had better make a Constitution and then become an Incorporated Society. I had interviews with a lawyer, Mr Richard Caughey, who was a great help in drafting our Constitution, as none of us had had any experience in anything like this.
On March 23rd Paddy Walker called us to a joint meeting at the Pacific Islands Education Resource Centre (PIERC) with her to get suggestions to form a Multicultural Task Force that she would chair as a follow-up for IYC. Our members were present plus Ian Kilgour, Valerie Hogan, Giselle Shenirer, Dr Fraser McDonald and Shayne Mattheson. I was elected to represent our Society at the Task Force which Paddy called to meet twice a week to start with. The Minutes were sent to the Wellington office which financed her work.
Mr Harold Innes who had previously run an annual Polynesian Dance Festival at the Auckland Town Hall invited us to combine with him.This was arranged and we were granted the use of the Town Hall for the whole day. We brought in the other cultures, and I was thrilled to see the reaction of the Cook Islanders watching the Irish dancers who danced with such stiff bodies and arms. A complete contrast to their own. I was disappointed how few of the public supported the day. The audience was made up mostly of friends and relatives of the performers.
At each monthly meeting we had a different cultural representative speak on how they named their children. We were amazed that the eldest sister in a Hindu family also named her brother’s children. The big difference was that she had a chart to go by. According to the Birth month, the stars and the sex of the baby, she chose the name from a list of names. In contrast, in the Tongan community the husband’s eldest sister chooses any name that she likes to remind her of something good, for example, should she win at the races, it could be the name of a racehorse!
It took most of the year to decide on the Constitution and to get it printed and a copy for each member. The City Council organized an entertaining function at the Domain as part of the People In Parks programme and asked us to participate. It was summer and some of us joined them. We ended the year with a fun-filled party on 16th December with an ethnic supper and entertainment at the Freemans Bay Community Centre.
In 1982 Miss Ani Pihema from the Orakei Marae representing the Ngati Whatua iwi was elected as our Chairperson. Mrs Annette Faigan started the year as our Secretary and Mr Balvantray Patel became Treasurer.
New members joined the Society:
Mr Tupae Pepe Cook Islands
Mrs Luseanne Koloi Tongan
The Rev Holni ‘Ofa (briefly) Tongan.
Mr Indelko Jukich. Croatian
Mrs Connelly Irish Society
Sofie Pua and Mr Frank Nonu Samoan
Mrs Ioka Page (briefly) Samoan
Mr John Singh (Daniel’s brother) Fiji
Mr Cecil Lochan Fiji
Mrs Suzanne Khouri Swedish
Mr Philip Khouri Lebanese
Mrs Vicki Hedger Indonesian
(The Museum turned on a huge exhibition of Indonesian Art and Crafts demonstrating aspects of the culture).
With our new Constitution we changed our name to:-
THE AUCKLAND MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY Inc.
With the help of Richard Wolfe we designed a new logo.This shows the map of NZ superimposed on a wheel. Written around it is “Each Culture Unites through Understanding to Strengthen New Zealand Society”. Each spoke of the wheel represents an ethnic group, which we hope will be united securely with the other spokes for the smooth running and harmony of New Zealand. Alternatively, the design resembles the Globe. At some time in in our past history, each ethnic group came to this country from elsewhere in the world. John Oram’s son painted our logo on a round board with considerable skill. It is about three quarters of a metre in diameter and has been featured at all of our public functions ever since it was created.
Annette Faigan found being Secretary very demanding as the Society grew. She also had young children and a job to maintain. So we invited Shayne Mattheson to take over. She was a fulltime secretary at the office of the Race Relations Conciliator. The Office staff members were most co-operative and also permitted her to use their secretarial equipment and they paid all our postage. Mr Harry Dansey was the Conciliator at that time. Shayne commenced her duties in June 1982.
On June 23rd Mona Papalii was running a weekly TV programme called See Hear . She invited our groups to go one at a time to talk about our different customs which was most beneficial educationally. These programmes continued for a considerable time.
From 30th June to 14th of July we held a major Exhibition at the Auckland Museum entitled Meet Your Neighbour. We started setting up the displays on 26th of June. The Auckland Star came and photographed our Exhibition. Radio New Zealand was also most supportive in advertising our exhibition.
June 29th was the opening ceremony. The Museum again made the Auditorium available. The Mayor, Mr Colin Kay, who was also our Patron, officiated. The Prime Minister and Hon Allen Highet, the Minister of Internal Affairs both sent telegrams of apology to be read during the evening with their good wishes.
The NZ Herald attended the opening and took photographs and Top Half from TV filmed us. The next two weeks were hectic with a continuous stream of school children and their teachers who had been booked in progressively by the Museum Education staff so they would not overlap.
We enjoyed the success of the Exhibition and it was voted well worth the effort. It went a long way in bringing people together. It was arranged with the Museum Director that we should have a bi-annual loan of the Exhibition Hall during the middle school term.
In September we received our Certificate 1982/126 which informed us that we had become an Incorporated Society. This is held in our first Log Book. On October 2nd there was a huge Polynesian Festival held at Henderson High School. It was the forerunner of the major Secondary Schools cultural performances held every year since then. There was competition dancing between the schools. The festival is staged at a different college each year. Now there is much wider involvement of Asian cultural performers as well as the Maori and Pacific performing groups.
On December 6th we held our Christmas function, even though several of our cultures are not of the Christian faith but happily go along with the holiday and festive spirit of Christmas. City Mayor Colin Kay came and the Consuls of some of the countries and their leaders attended.
Our members all brought food and Tupae Pepe cooked a huge leg of lamb. We enjoyed a hearty ethnic dinner with curries, raw fish marinated in coconut milk, Irish bread and many other delicious treats. Whenever there were refreshments we always said Grace. This was requested by some cultures. This function was held at the PIERC and Tupae led us with his guitar and instructed us in Polynesian dances. We all loved every moment.
In 1983 Dr Thomas Ho from the Chinese Community was elected to the Chair. He was a most enthusiastic and dedicated leader. Mr Teariki Tuiono and Mrs Anne Wiapo joined from the Cook Islands, Mr Haryama Soeroer, Indonesian Association and Mrs Lisetta Pilisi, Niuean Society became new members.
John Buckland and his students did valiant work interviewing our different cultural groups. His students went to migrants’ homes and compiled their life stories from their homeland to settling in NZ. They also took photographs of the families. John completed the editing work on eleven families of different cultures, and the books were available from the Auckland Teachers’ College Bookroom. After North Shore Teachers College was closed down in 1981, he gained a position as Principal Lecturer in Social Studies, specialising in Asian and Pacific Islands studies. He transferred the sales of the Society’s book publications to the Epsom campus. The books he compiled were used in intermediate and secondary schools throughout New Zealand for the next ten years and were reprinted several times.
There was a change in the Race Relations Conciliator with the appointment of Mr Hiwi Tauroa. Regrettably, Shayne Mattheson had to leave us because of additional duties. Mrs June Niven most graciously became our honorary secretary. She was a great person and generously assisted us in all our activities.
We decided that to get to know one another better, we would try and meet in different venues. Dr Thomas Ho and his wife Joyce invited us to meet at their home. They showed us examples of their exquisite Chinese art and ornaments; their kitchen and cooking utensils and served a variety of dishes. Joyce also showed some clothes and fans. At one of our meetings, Joyce came and told us of life in her grandmother’s days. When a male child was born he was elevated into a high cot and a female would have the cot on the floor. Boys and men were revered, but females had to obey, even their own brothers, and had to bow when spoken to by the male. The women’s feet were bound so they did not develop properly. This caused them much pain, and they could only hobble. This was done so that the toes were always soft. They were very much a sex symbol and men enjoyed sucking them.
On April 23rd some members of our Society received a great honour to be invited to the Royal Garden Party at Government House in Mountain Road on the occasion of the visit of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and their baby son Prince William.
I think that most of us invited to attend shook hands with Princess Diana and were struck by her beauty, but most of all the ease at which she talked to each one in turn. She was most observant. She asked a man carrying a raincoat whether he had come far and his means of transport.
Not long after this event, I gave a dinner at my home for as many of our Society as my table would hold. It was a relaxing way of communicating.
On 2nd May Mr Hiwi Tauroa came and gave us a talk on his recent trip to the Republic of China. On 12th August Susanne Khouri became our Treasurer. On Dec 5th our last meeting of the year, for our Christmas party we celebrated with an ethnic feast at the Waitakere City Council Chambers. The Mayor, Mr Tim Shadbolt was our most entertaining host. Fun was had by all. We certainly achieved mixing in the community that year, and we had excellent talks about our cultural practices, but alas these were not recorded.
The Irish also entertained us and we shared a dinner in their comfortable Hall.Their hospitality, music and dancing is always greatly appreciated.
In 1984 Mr Edgar Tu’inukuafe was elected our Chairperson. He was a Tongan tutor at the Pacific Islands Education Resource Centre. I gave another dinner for those who missed the first. On 28th May we had a talk on Maori and European art by Ms Lyndsay Bell from the Museum.
In July Richard Wolfe from the Museum came and gave us a talk on setting up our next exhibition. He pleaded with us to give him the labels of everything we displayed in plenty of time so that he could label them uniformly.
On September 1st we started to set up our Exhibition at the War Memorial Museum. John Buckland arranged for schools to have an essay competition on the theme of “Sharing Our Cultures” and certificate awards were made. There was also an art competition for students with entries displayed at the entrance hall to the exhibition.
Many of our cultural groups contributed costumes and accessories associated with their marriage ceremonies. The opening took its usual form with the Mayor speaking to a large audience of guests arising from invitations by each of our members to bring ten important guests from their cultural groups. We enjoyed the ethnic supper with contributions of savouries and sweets prepared by members.
We had thousands of stickers printed with our logo on them done in green and white. These were given out to visiting children who fixed them to their clothes and bags. The logo hand-outs were very popular.
From the 6th to 8th September, I spent much time staffing the hall which was not ventilated so became airless and unpleasant with hundreds of children passing through each day. Two representatives from the New Zealand Tamil Society came to join us, Mrs Malar Pasalingam Mrs Vaithianathan. Mrs Yvonne Robinson from the Jewish community also assisted. Robyn Scott from Radio NZ gave us good publicity for our exhibition.
In keeping with the theme of our exhibition on weddings and bridal clothes, the New Zealand Herald on 13th August featured a photograph of an Indian bride in her wedding dress. Mr Balvantray Patel explained in the news report that an Indian ceremony can take up to five days based on Hindu rites. The groom does not see his wife until the final day when they meet at the altar. The groom gives his bride a wedding ring, necklace (mangail sutra) and several saris including a homecoming sari called the ammar. The bride’s wedding gown and jewellery are traditionally provided by her maternal uncle who leads her to the altar. Mr Patel stated that today not all marriages are arranged, but the parents are very keen to approve of their offspring’s chosen partners. They like to keep to the traditional wedding but it is now often held in a hall, not the home.
The Tongans showed the traditional mats that make up the wedding bed. Two elderly female relatives checked to see that the bride was a virgin.
There was a two-day event at Okahu Bay which had outrigger competitions, and dancing and food presented by most of Auckland’s Polynesian groups. Many of our members joined the crowds to enjoy the canoe races offshore. On November 23rd some of us enjoyed sharing a Fijian dinner.
On December 3rd we were invited by the Irish Society to their Hall to share in our Christmas feast. Each one of us had to stand up and briefly entertain the others, demonstrating our differences. There was much laughter and fellowship.
At our Annual General Meeting in 1985, Mr Cecil Lochan was elected Chairperson,
representing Fiji. We were also joined by Mrs Winifred Maindonald from the Welsh Club and also a member of the Hong Kong Society.
We participated in a Multicultural Street Festival in March run by the Auckland City Council by marching down Queen Street behind our banner. This year we concentrated on the media. Leone Breshnahan invited each group in turn each week to give a talk on IYA of their cultural customs. Some were on TV and also in the press.
The Race Relations Office invited us to organize a Multicultural Street Festival in Karangahape Road and the local Business Association would promote us. This seemed to take months of planning. Cecil Lochan went to meetings for weeks at Race Relations and I went quite often as well. The Police would have to divert the traffic for the afternoon and evening, so a representative came from them. The St Johns Ambulance came. The representative of the Business Association in the street attended each meeting and was full of suggestions. The Health Department stipulated strict rules for serving food.
There were stages raised a metre high set up at intervals on the trays of huge trucks in the middle of the street so that the dancers could perform and be easily seen. We also had singing and music. Ethnic food was for sale all along the pavements. We sold Irish bread, Tongan puddings, Swedish gingerbread, Niuean coconut bread, Welsh cakes, Indian savouries, doughnuts and hot golden syrup pancakes.
There was a headline in the Auckland Star. “Stolen Shirt Had Spirit”. This had been taken off a display model during the Museum Exhibition we had arranged in 1984. The paper reported:
“One visitor to the exhibition at Auckland War Memorial Museum misinterpreted its
title. The exhibition Sharing our Cultures was organized by the Auckland
Multicultural Society and gave seventeen of the city’s different ethnic groups the
chance to display their customs, dances and costumes.
“The visitor took more than a look at a hand-woven cotton shirt loaned by Mr Amrut
Patel of Mt Albert. Mr Patel was not greatly upset by the material loss as he owned
shirts like the stolen one and says it was of little monetary value, but he was indignant
at the theft which he felt violated the exhibition’s spirit of cultural sharing. The
hand-made shirt is of particular significance to the Indian people because it is made
from khadi, the hand-spun material which Mahatma Gandhi persuaded all Indians to
use as an act of defiance against the British marketing in India. “It is a very spirited
form of dress,” said Mr Patel. “People were imprisoned for wearing it, but everyone
still did so as a show of spirit”. The material was not precious. Gandhi had
deliberately designed a suit that anyone could afford. Khadi was of enormous
significance in the struggle for Indian independence. Mr Patel hoped the theft would
not discourage others from loaning their possessions for the next year’s display. “It is
a very nice idea to celebrate our multicultural society.”
The Listener in featuring reports on television and radio in its September 8th – October 4th issue headed its coloured front cover with the words ‘MIGRANTS: The New Face of Our Nation’. These words were superimposed over a face of trick photography. Four faces formed a montage from different cultures. Shanta Patel, Balvantray Patel’s wife was the top left. Inside was a photo of their family with a short article. The articles on each migrant made fascinating reading and helped promote awareness of the contributions such people make.
The year 1986 started with optimism when, for the first time a Samoan representative agreed to stand as Chairperson. Mrs Fia Amituanai representing the Samoan Advisory Council was elected to lead our Society on 3rd March. Regrettably, Mrs June Niven had to hand in her resignation as our most efficient Secretary, because her husband was unwell.
There were three new members, Mrs Avis Cooper from the Pan Pacific and South East Asian Women’s Association, Ms Emma Ligalevu, an indigenous Fijian and Mrs Priscilla Maher from the Chinese Community. Fia asked if there was anybody at the meeting who had secretarial training. Emma put up her hand. Then Fia invited her to become our Secretary and she accepted.
On 15th March we undertook to stage a Multicultural Fiesta Concert in the Auckland Town Hall from 4pm-7.30 pm. This was an ambitious choice of venue and some members were very uncertain how many people we would attract to fill even the ground floor. Sylvia Vowless was the producer and fifteen performing groups took part. Peter Kent was the stage manager. Mrs Catherine Tizard, as Mayor of Auckland and our Patron had arranged for the Council to lend us the Town Hall at no charge. We did not have sufficient funds to pay the high costs of press advertising. The attendance was disappointing but there was a strong following by friends and relatives of the performers.
After attending, the Mayor said she was so impressed she invited our Society to join in Saturday’s Queen Street Fiesta. Following the concert, which featured large numbers of performers from many parts of the city and south Auckland, John Buckland prepared a special report which was published in the Manukau Courier including a photograph of 16 year-old Brakashini Thuraisundaram, daughter of our member Thurai. She is a talented exponent of the traditional Tamil temple dance called the Bharata Natyam.
At the April meeting we had no Agenda, but the Minutes had been beautifully typed. As the month of April progressed there were several disturbing phone calls. It was discovered that Emma was a full-time student at the University and she also held a part-time job at the PIERC and at Auckland Teachers College. It became obvious it would be impossible for her to have the time to take on our secretarial work as well.
On 17th of April Fia asked me to join her at the Race Relations Office where she had arranged to meet Emma in the hallway.We reached agreement with Emma that she could not manage our work.
Mr Walter Hirsh, a capable Jewish Aucklander had became the Race Relations Conciliator. It was decided that we would combine with the newly formed Ethnic Council in giving him a formal welcome party at Samoa House followed by a dinner. Fia gave a speech giving briefly the aims of our Society. The Prime Minister David Lange was there for the evening.
On May 5th there was no Emma and no agenda or minutes for our meeting.. The same was the case of the June meeting, and we found no letters had been written since the Annual General Meeting. At the July meeting we finally got notification of Emma’s resignation. She was returning to Fiji.
On May 7th the Niue Island Women’s group invited us to a display of their woven baskets and mats that they were selling at Freeman’s Bay Community Centre. They were most beautifully made. We were treated to lavish Niuean hospitality.
On Sunday 11th of May, Fia Amituanai came round to my home, and we worked out the Agenda and Minutes, and sorted out the letters that had never been sent. I had just purchased a small manual typewriter, but could not type. Fia could type but had no typewriter! In June I gave another multicultural dinner in my home to bring together new members to join with others who had been with our Society for some time.
I acted as Secretary for the July meeting. On August 4th Fia appointed Anne Wiapo who was from the Cook Islands to become our Secretary. She was already a member. She was a full-time secretary at the Pacific Islands Education Resource Centre. She could use their equipment for our purposes.
Alas Anne did not turn up for our next meeting, although she had prepared the Agenda and Minutes. At the same time the attendance of members of other cultures halved, the cold winter weather playing its part as well as some disillusionment with the committee.We had not known that Anne had developed cancer which was later to take her life.
I made a cloth banner that we could carry and walk behind when parading down Queen Street or use at other times to inform the public of our organization. At our meeting of 6th of October we were all stunned when Fia Amituanai failed to attend or alert us of her absence. We were unable to reach her on the phone. Perhaps her car had
broken down on the way, She had to come all the way from Otahuhu and also had responsibility with her husband for a young family.
We agreed that John Buckland, although not yet approved as a full member, should chair the meeting until she arrived, but she never turned up. I took the minutes. On October 13th I went over to Anne’s home in Hillsborough and collected the boxes of Society Minutes. She agreed to be Secretary again, but a number of letters had still not been written.
On November 3rd, nobody could tell us what had happened to Fia, so I again undertook to record the Minutes. John Buckland chaired the meeting and was accepted as a full member of our Society for the first time after being our education adviser for the previous six years. He commented that in his time with the Society he believed that the leadership should come from cultural groups other than the majority culture in New Zealand. He said he had always accepted that this was important.
On November 28th we assisted Mrs Pearline Fergusson, president of the New Zealand Guild of Artists, by providing performers to take part in a Dance Festival at Aotea Centre from noon until 8.30 pm. It was very hard for the groups performing to stick to their times, but they did very well. John recorded the event by taking many photographs for the Guild.
On Sunday 30th November we had agreed to Avis Cooper’s suggestion that we combine with PPSEAWA to raise funds for the Children’s Hospital and also a charity of our choice. This event was to be held in the beautiful Government House Gardens and each group would display their traditional wedding gowns. We sold tickets at the gate.
At the last moment when it was pelting with rain, John Buckland made the necessary arrangements for us to transfer the venue to the hall on the campus of Auckland Teachers College.. This hall, however, was too small for the number who attended.
Paddy Walker was invited to be our guest speaker. Paddy had phoned me shortly before asking me to find out for her the Origins of Marriage as an institution. I had gone to the City Library and had written out for Paddy the history and customs of different forms of marriage in various countries. The time came to start, but there was no sign of Paddy, so in desperation I was asked to fill the gap. Thank goodness I could recall the notes that I had sent her. Just as I had started to introduce the first wedding couple in costume, Paddy turned up and took over.
Race Relations Officer Mr Hiwi Tauroa was an excellent Master of Ceremonies. In great humour, he put the crowded audience at ease. We made $3,000 towards the Children’s Hospital and Aotea Centre. Considering the weather conditions, this was a most pleasing achievement, and we commended Avis Cooper for her initiative.
Our last meeting of the year at St Mark’s Hall was followed by our Christmas party, which consisted of lovely home-made ethnic foods, but we missed the usual after-dinner entertainment. On the whole I felt it was a devastating year with many stop-gap arrangements. After a considerable time I received a picture postcard from Fia written from Australia, where she said she had gone to have a rest as she did not feel well. She never returned to the Society.
However, in an effort to build up the good name of the Society, John Buckland
offered to take on the task of being editor of our first newsletter publication he called Sharing our Cultures during the years 1986 to 1992. This had great value for schools. He edited this each month until it was replaced by the Auckland Multicultural Society Newsletter in 1993. The new editorship was taken on by Mr Mel Fernandes of the Auckland Malaysian Society. Mel was an experienced Asian journalist and publisher who also produced the Asia-NZ business magazine. After producing three issues of our Newsletter over several months, he could carry on no longer, so John Buckland took over writing most of the reports of events and taking photographs on behalf of different ethnic associations for the next six years. Since his retirement he is still continuing as editor in the year 2000.
1987 started for the AMS on February 7th when the Tamil Community turned on a wonderful performance of Tamil Traditional Dances at the Maidment Theatre. One of the stars was 16 year-old Brakashini Thuraisundaram. She had been professionally trained by a very famous dancer ever since she was 3 years old. She was dressed in an exquisite silk sari, and wore very fine gold jewellery. The soles of her feet were painted red. Before each presentation, the dance was explained so we could enjoy its meaning. Many of the dances were interpretations of the legends of the Hindu gods.
The AGM was held on 2nd of March. Mrs June Niven most kindly returned to become Secretary for this evening. Mr Cecil Lochan from Fiji was elected as Chairperson, John Buckland as Secretary, and Eric Baggen as Treasurer. Jagdish Natali agreed to become vice-chairman. David Wong, a new Chinese member and Dinesh Tailor, a new Indian member, Vicki Hedger, Indonesian and Luseanne Koloi, Tongan, strengthened our committee.
Top Half – the TV programme and The NZ Herald phoned us to see if we were again turning on a ‘K Road Festival, but we explained that we had not time to organize such a major event, nor did we have the necessary funding. However, we paraded down Queen Street in the March 22nd Multicultural Fiesta arranged by the City Council which ended in a display of fireworks, all paid for from Council funds..
Sofi Pua of the Samoan Association died in July. As was usual in such circumstances, we stood in appreciation of his memory. John Buckland started editing a regular monthly Multicultural Newsletter which was geared for schools. He also produced a series of multicultural resource units to help teachers and these were published regularly in the journal Changes published by the Auckland Social Studies Association and from time to time in the Waikato Social Studies Journal.
As editor of Changes and the monthly Social Studies Newsletter, this gave him the opportunity to produce many articles, photographs and sample teaching plans on different cultures. He also produced eighteen booklets for teachers, each of 16 pages providing valuable information about different cultures living in New Zealand. These were in addition to the 10 books in the Multicultural Family Case Studies still being ordered by schools.
It was through his involvement with members of the Auckland Multicultural Society and through travel in Asia and the Pacific, that he developed the knowledge and skills to be able to produce these resources for schools.The booklets were extremely popular with teachers and college students, not only in Auckland but elsewhere in New Zealand.. Some of the titles were Maori-European Interaction, Faa Samoa (The Samoan Way), Living in the Cook Islands, Thailand, Fiji (two books), Tonga, The Buckland Family of Highwic (British NZers), Australian Aborigines, Living in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Living in an Indian Village.
On August 3rd the Niue Island community invited us to their basket display held at Freeman’s Bay Community Centre. On 7th September Jagdish Natali took the chair for the meeting, and I acted as Secretary as John sought leave to travel and study overseas in Indonesia.
The October Exhibition was cancelled. Although Richard Wolfe had come to our first meeting to help us prepare and to inform us of our needs, the Director Stuart Park cancelled our booking because he had arranged an important Exhibition from overseas called Dinosaurs, which proved to be immensely popular..
In October, the Race Relations Office was keen to form the Auckland Ethnic Council and to make it a body to deal with urgent political issues. Mr Peter Tohill invited some of us to a meeting at the Race Relations Office. He had gathered quite a crowd, but they were not appointed by the various communities or associations. I explained how we had invited Associations to appoint delegates from their Associations to represent them.
We also told them that in no way would our Association become political as our aims were educational. Peter had been to Australia to collect the Constitution of the Australian Federation of Ethnic Councils. I was shocked that there were no Aboriginal members, and no British members. I loaned our Constitution to Peter, and in many ways they have adopted ours. We then found that many of our members were keen to become members of the Ethnic Council as well.
We went to a marvellous Polynesian Food Fair at Freemans Bay and tasted many ethnic dishes. At the November meeting no Polynesian members attended. I believe they prefer action rather that deliberations.
On August 30th we were invited to Massey Homestead in Mangere to view a Chinese artists work. Alas, as most of our members work during the day, there were few who could attend. John Buckland prepared a newspaper report and photographs for Manukau Courier. On September 12th we were invited by the Indonesian Society to see a wonderful film on scenic Indonesia. Then on the 26th they invited us to an evening of entertainment and Indonesian food. Shortly after, I gave another dinner party in my home to encourage more members to meet socially.
We joined in the November Multicultural Street Festival down Queen Street. On 7th December we celebrated our Christmas dinner at the PIERC. We all had to give an item of entertainment. Both Cecil and his wife sang duets, I presented the story of the AMS in the form of verse, to inform newcomers of our history.
The Annual General Meeting of 1988 was held on March 7th. The Auckland Indian Association representative Jagdish Natali was elected to the Chair, Priscilla Maher from the Chinese community was vice chairperson, Eric Baggen Treasurer and John Buckland Secretary.
The meeting immediately went into action planning the April Exhibition called Sharing Our Cultural Heritage to be held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. There was much to be done and very little time. We were told we could start setting up the Auditorium area on 16th April. No one seemed available so John spent half a day setting up the display booths and setting out large numbers of glass cabinets and plastic dome-covered boxes ready for the groups.
He also had to spend a great deal of time assisting particular members who had only limited experience of setting up displays. He travelled to South Auckland to arrange for a group of friendly Cook Islands women to set up a brilliantly colourful display of Tivaevae or patterned embroidery, a skill once taught to the Islanders by missionaries.
Using large colour photographs taken at the Fiji Indian wedding of Ashla and Rajiv, John helped provide a focal point for Cecil Lochan’s presentation of a traditional Indian wedding To represent the English community in New Zealand he set up a display of children’s toys and games loaned from the Museum and the Buckland family collection, which I helped arrange ready for the opening day after helping send out the invitations.
Mr Anthony Culav of the Croatian Society set up a display featuring the lives of the early gumdiggers in Northland. Members of the Indian Association set up dramatic displays of saris, mats, copperware and crafts which fascinated visitors. Arthur Loo’s display of Chinese crafts and calligraphy and Thuten Kesang’s Tibetan display were specially well presented. Liseta Pilisi’s portrayal of the Niuean hair-cutting ceremony, where at the age of 11, boys have their long hair cut, Kath Doran’s display of Irish costumes and crafts showed much of the traditions of her community in Ireland. The Irish also loaned their most valuable treasure The Book of Kells. This copy had been produced in Spain. The Jewish, Samoan, Tongan, Vietnamese and Welsh exhibits all provided a wonderful range of experiences for visitors.
Mrs Gerti Blumenfeld from the Jewish community helped me set up all the glasses and make fruit punch for the supper. Guest speaker was Race Relations Conciliator Mr Hiwi Tauroa. He was welcomed with representatives of the Museum Council and VIP’s from our different ethnic communities.
John Buckland had worked very hard to inform many schools about our exhibition. He helped organise a preview meeting for teachers after school. He also prepared a 20-page Newsletter for each of the 400 schools likely to send their pupils.
One of his biggest tasks involving weeks of work was to assemble a 70-page teacher’s
resource book titled Sharing Our Cultural Heritage providing much useful practical material for teachers with many ideas for classroom activities following the students’ museum visit.
Priscilla Maher was elected to be the liaison person with Auckland Community Access Radio, which was a new network especially for different cultures and the programmes would be broadcast in their native tongues. This helped us publicise the Exhibition.
The Museum was open from 9.50am to 4.30pm. The Educational staff of the museum were excellent in arranging the timetable for the schools so that they did not overlap. On the first day alone 365 pupils came, 450 the next and on the 26th April, 560 children. Obviously, the preparation of materials for teachers had paid off.
There seemed to be an atmosphere at the Museum we found difficult to understand. Richard Wolfe who had leaned over backwards with his help and graciousness at earlier exhibitions was less supportive this time. For example, the Display Hall being off the beaten track needed directional signs for people to find it. Despite our request, he did not put up any notice in the Museum entrance itself directing the public and overseas visitors to our exhibits until 22nd of April. This was two days late. Perhaps the size and popularity of our Exhibition was becoming too burdensome to deal with when Richard already had his own daily work at the Museum to undertake.
The Mangere Cultural Centre at Massey House again invited us to join them in festival stalls and a sale. I invited more multicultural guests to dinner in my home. Jagdish Natali, our President, invited us all to our Christmas Party at his home. We each brought an ethnic dish and had a feast. He was an excellent host. We all enjoyed learning more about India. Also it was good to meet his charming wife and delightful family.
Jagdish, in his Chairman’s Report, praised our exhibition Sharing Our Cultures with a special mention of gratitude to John Buckland, our Secretary who done much to co-ordinate the event and produce the resource book for schools. He also congratulated John on the Queen’s Birthday honour of a QSM which he had just been awarded for his service to the community and to education.
It was recorded that the following guest speakers visited us: Messrs Paraire Huata and Mark Mitchell (project co-ordinators for Auckland’s role in the 1990 Commission) and Mr Mike Jarman, Assistant Secretary to the Minister of Internal Affairs. Under the chairmanship of Jagdish Natali, this had proved a very successful year.
In 1989, the first meeting was on 14th February. Mr Marcel Thompson from the Orakei Marae joined our membership. He replaced his aunt Mrs Bea Thompson who had died suddenly, sad news that we had not heard about over the Christmas vacation.
Our first activity was in March with a multicultural song and dance street festival in Princes Street outside the University. Our members turned up in large numbers. One of the highlights was a Dalmatian group which presented a spectacular kola dance.
Priscilla Maher from the Chinese Community was elected as our Chairperson. Mrs Gerti Blumenfeld was Vice-Chairperson and John Buckland carried on as Secretary. Our retiring chairperson, Jagdish Natali JP arranged for an ethnic supper that night with a sitar player to entertain us. This Indian musician was most skilled.
At our meeting on 3rd April we had a rehearsal for our broadcast over Community Access Radio. Many of our members representing different cultures worked together to present this broadcast. Priscilla was very keen on this idea. It was also a chance for the public to realize how many ethnic groups were in our Society. We paid Access Radio an annual fee, hoping different groups would avail themselves of radio time under our umbrella.
On April 18th we were to lose a very able member and lawyer Mr Philip Khouri of the Lebanese Community who left to become Chairman of the new Auckland Ethnic Council. Mr Peter Tohill, who was working with the Race Relations Office was very active in supporting the Council with plans that there should be one set up in all the main cities. Alas, we discovered that they had set the date of their meetings on the first Monday of each month at 7.30pm. This had for years been our time of meeting. As many of our members who were leaders in their communities had been nominated to serve on both Societies, there was a conflict of interest. After a while they gradually changed, so we returned to our full attendance.
On 30th April, Priscilla Maher, Anthony Culav of the Croatian Club, together with Winifred Maindonald from the Welsh Society combined in an another informative broadcast on Access Radio. Also on this date, some of our members were invited to the AGM of the Auckland Ethnic Council.
On 3rd July we welcomed a new member from the Tibet, yet to be established as a community in Auckland. He was Mr Thuten Kesang, the first Tibetan refugee in New Zealand who escaped via India from Tibet at the time Chinese troops occupied his country. His father lost his life at the hands of soldiers and his mother died of starvation in the months following, despite support from other family members.
Thuten had trained as a printer in India and brought with him skills that have been of inestimable value to our Society and to his organization Friends of Tibet (NZ). This has become a world-wide organization. Thuten was later appointed as the official representative in New Zealand for His Holiness the Dalai Lama who also escaped through Tibetan mountain passes to India. The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his compassionate non-violent approach to resolving the human tragedy his once free and independent people faced after 1954.
At the July and August meetings, members offered to present a talk on a religious festival. Priscilla talked of the Chinese Ching Ming Festival which takes place each year to honour the dead. This festival takes three days and special food and flowers are used as well as the ritual of sweeping of the graves. Jagdish Natali spoke on Raksha Bandhan which involves important rituals associated with the birth of Lord Krishna.
The Tamil Society invited us to join them at a festive evening which they held at St Aiden’s Hall in Remuera. On 6th November we had a great celebration at the Irish Society’s Clubrooms on Great North Road, Newton. Our Patron, the Mayor Mrs Catherine Tizard, Mr Chris Laidlaw, the Race Relations Conciliator and Mr Sefulu Ioane, Director of PIERC were all invited for it was the tenth anniversary of our founding as a Society. We turned on a great ethnic feast. We all dressed in traditional clothes of our ethnic groups. Each of us offered an item for the large audience. We heard the Irish bagpipes and watched Irish dancing and even a Chinese fan dance. I recounted our activities over the last ten years in blank verse.
The evening of 4th December was the last meeting of the year, but having had just enjoyed a great party, we did not go ahead with a Christmas function. At the end of the meeting I gave a talk on the origins and traditions of a British Christmas. We were all grateful for the enthusiastic leadership Priscilla had provided and the high level of co-operation among our members.
1990 was an exciting year for all Aucklanders as we were to be hosts for the Commonwealth Games and some of our cultural groups were involved in the opening and closing ceremonies. I will recount an article written for the New Zealand Herald on 1/2/1990 by John Buckland:
$4m Lesson in Multiculturalism.
“The brilliantly conceived opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games
deserves the warmest congratulations of all New Zealanders. Jenny Goodwin’s opening statement on TVNZ that we are “one nation, one people”, however, was certainly not borne out as millions of viewers world-wide saw the reality first of a bicultural nation with 2000 Maori performers under the leadership of Dr Pita Sharples expressing themselves superbly in te wero, mihi, haka and waiata. Then,
unfolding through choreographer Mary-Jane O’Reilly’s brilliant dance-drama sequences, we saw that New Zealand has great strengths and talents in its Pacific and European peoples.
“Appropriately, Brendan Telfer summed up at the end of the presentation his more accurate view of the opening as “a superb expression of multiculturalism and I am just glad that the world saw it.”
“This diversity now gives all of us as New Zealanders an opportunity to carry into the 1990’s a much wider and more open perspective about our nation than that being promoted by the One New Zealand Foundation. The games provided ample evidence to show why organizations like the Auckland Multicultural Society and the Auckland Ethnic Council have distanced themselves from the One New
Zealand Foundation by refusing membership.
”The opening was a $4 million educational lesson for all New Zealanders in
showing how all our diverse ethnic groups can work in partnership to enrich the lives of all New Zealanders. The closing ceremony was even more spectacular. Waves and waves of dancers representing all ethnic groups moved forward on to Aotearoa, with the waves being created by ethnic dancers. The One New Zealand Foundation was very vocal with much literature urging all groups and
organizations to make NZ a white-governed and white-dominated country. It soon died a natural death,” he concluded.
At our first meeting on 2nd of February 1990 Mrs Priscilla Maher was in the Chair. She brought several gifts with her as she had learned that it was soon to be John’s 60th birthday. He was very surprised. He told us that he had only one week left before he retired from the Auckland Teacher’s College, after 30 years of being involved in the training of teachers.
There had been a tragic fire at the Orakei Marae and magnificent carvings had been lost.We sent our sympathy via Marcel to the Ngati Whatua people. There was great unity among the people after their serious loss and the members of the iwi set about rebuilding the fine features of the meeting house from the blackened shell.
We were able to make arrangements for the magnificent Commonwealth Quilt to be displayed at the entrance to our forthcoming Exhibition, before being sent to Canada. Luseanne Koloi had done some of the superb embroidery and was to accompany the Quilt to Vancouver.
The AGM was held on 5th March and Mr S.K.Thuraisundaram from the Tamil community was elected Chairperson. Mr Marcel Thompson from the Maori Community was vice-chairperson. During the general meeting details were discussed for the management of our next Exhibition, including invitations. An extra meeting was arranged for the 14th March to help complete planning details.
On Monday 2nd of April we opened our Exhibition. The theme was Sharing Our Cultures. The guests arrived at 7.30 pm Their Excellencies the Governor General, Sir Paul and Lady Reeves were accompanied by our Patron, Dame Catherine Tizard, Mayor of Auckland and Governor General Designate and Sir Hugh Kawharu, Maori Studies Professor at Auckland University. They were escorted on to the stage of the Museum Auditorium. Following a mihi (welcome) by a senior kaumatua of the Ngati Whatua o Orakei Marae, Mr Thuraisundaram JP welcomed our guests and introduced them to members of our Society. Mr Cecil Lochan JP was Master of Ceremonies. Dame Cath Tizard gave a speech and then invited Sir Paul Reeves to address the audience.
This was followed by cultural items presented by a Tongan group, an Indian musical performance, Samoan Sasa and a traditional Tamil dance.The official party and audience were invited to view the exhibition followed by the ethnic supper in the supper room. This very successful evening closed at 10pm.
The Exhibition was open from 10am – 4pm daily until 8th April. An estimated 5,500 guests passed through.and 2,500 pupils from intermediate schools viewed the displays.
Each cultural group exhibiting was offered $150 towards their expenses from an Auckland City Community Grant.
To assist teachers bringing their classes to the Museum, John Buckland worked for two months preparing a 100-page Resource Book for Teachers: Sharing Our Cultures. So impressed was the committee of the Auckland Social Studies Teachers’ Association, that it sought approval to republish the entire publication again after all our own copies were sold. The book was reprinted as the Association Journal Changes. This new version of the book became recognised as a contribution to the Official New Zealand 1990 Commission Project, which had also given this status to our Museum Exhibition. The publication was mailed to schools subscribing to the publication throughout New Zealand for use in Social Studies programmes.
In the Editorial to the book, Graeme Aitken, Head of Social Sciences at Waitakere College stated :
“This edition marks the end of an era in the editing of Changes. For 12 years John Buckland has edited and contributed extensively himself to the journal. He has provided a wealth of resource material for teachers in primary and secondary schools which has always been topical and relevant. This material has often reflected John’s strong commitment towards greater cultural sensitivity and understanding. It is appropriate, therefore, that in 1990, John’s editorial role concludes with this contribution collated on behalf of the Auckland Multicultural Society. Sharing Our Culturesoffers resource material on fifteen cultural groups with which to further develop understanding of the cultures and heritages of our country. John’s energy and commitment to this journal and to the Association will be sorely missed.”
Not long after, he was invited to a function in Hamilton, where after doing a presentation on classroom methods for a large group of teachers of the Waikato Social Studies Association, he was presented with a Life Membership by its president. Two months later John was invited to a meeting of the Auckland Social Studies Teachers’ Association where he was made another Life Member.
An initiative by the Pan Pacific and South East Asian Women’s Association to set up a Good News Week in centres throughout New Zealand was supported by our Society. Mrs Avis Cooper and Christine Enoka persuaded us to support the programme which aimed to encourage the news media to focus on positive stories and events, rather than the persistent emphasis on negative happenings. Many major newspapers took to the idea and one suburban paper in Howick-Pakuranga produced an issue where every single item reported told readers of “Good News.” Our President, Mr Thuraisundaram regarded this was a very worthwhile way of helping to build a more constructive community spirit. This was a specially significant initiative, because little did we realise that both Avis and Christine were to be treated for cancer during the next few years and we were sad to lose their wonderful support for the Society when they died.
It was moved that in September a group photo of us all should be taken as it was a special year.The Auckland Ethnic Council had its first National Conference. 1990. The Governor General was unable to attend, and so was Dame Cath Tizard, but the Deputy Mayor Mr Philip Warren gave the opening speech. It was a very well planned conference with many speakers representing all the ethnic groups in its membership. There were also a number of Members of Parliament present. On the front cover of the Conference handbook was the slogan: “THE EARTH is but one country and mankind its citizens”. We met again on July 2nd and reported on the Ethnic Council conference.
During the previous month our Secretary had co-ordinated a major evening programme of multicultural performers from intermediate and secondary schools in the Epsom, Mt Eden and Onehunga areas. John then discussed arrangements with the management of the Royal Oak Shopping Mall which attracts many shoppers on Friday evenings to set up a stage area and sound system. This was the first of a series of Multicultural Youth Festivals he organized for the Society.
Our committee had discussed the idea that nurturing positive relationships between cultures needs to start when children are at school age so as to build appreciation among people of the special contribution young people can make to our communities. The principals of schools were pleased to have their children involved at the local malls in constructive performance activities instead of “hanging out” aimlesssly. One could readily see how the self-esteem of the young performers was boosted as they got into the spirit of the evening. Cecil Lochan proved a very able compere.
There was considerable public interest in this two-hour show in the Royal Oak Mall with Maori, Pacific Islands and Asian dances, songs and music. All participants were given attractive congratulatory certificates designed and printed by Thuten Kesang. The certificates were signed by our Patron, Mayor Les Mills and President Mr Thuraisundaram. Featured on the certificate were words from the rousing song by Bette Midler.
“From a distance there is harmony
And it echoes through the land
We are instruments marching in a common band
Playing songs of hope, songs of peace
They’re songs of every man.”
Several of John’s photographs of the young performers were published in the local community newspaper, further boosting our Society’s image.
At our August 6th meeting Liseta Pilisi gave a talk on her country of birth, Niue Island which has around 2,000 people living there and 3,000 now living in New Zealand. The Niueans have a tribal structure organized by village heads or pastors. There is no police system. The influence of the churches is strong in applying sanctions to ensure lawful behaviour. The islanders rely on local land and sea resources such as bananas, pawpaws, mangoes, giant crabs, fish, chickens and pigs. They brew drinks from coconuts. Severe hurricanes cause serious damage from time to time.
The Pacific Islands Education Resource Centre informed us that we could no longer use their facilities for free for our meetings.. There was now a “user pays” policy. So we looked around for an alternative venue. We decided to move to St Mark’s Church Hall in Remuera where they would give us a discount as I was a parishioner.
We were invited to decorate a Christmas tree at Aotea Centre. It was decided that we would accept this and use international dolls in their traditional dress. John and I were given the task of collecting these dolls from members and decorating the tree in November. Thurai came and helped.
I volunteered to arrange a dinner for Sir Edmund and Lady Hillary at my home. I decided I would buy Chinese takeaways for the main course, and members would contribute to the dessert. Thirty guests came to dinner on 16th August, and it went very well. It was a valuable preparation for Ed to get to know us a little before coming to our next meeting.
On 3rd September 1990 Sir Edmund Hillary had to postpone his visit until October.
Jewish Festival Week was held during the month demonstrating 140 years of Jewish
contributions to New Zealand. Many of our members went to view displays at the Jewish Centre in Greys Avenue and noted the remarkable number of Jews who have contributed to community development in New Zealand. These included businessmen like L.D. Nathan; Asher Asher, the pioneer shopkeeper, merchant ship owner and councillor; Sir Ernest Davis, civic leader and benefactor; Philip Philips, first Mayor of Auckland, who was followed by Henry Isaacs; greatly respected Mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson; Sir Arthur Myers, who gave Myers Park to the citizens of Auckland; Colin Kaye, Mayor of Auckland 1980-83 and Mrs Lesley Max, an outstanding educator, who was interviewed as one of the case studies in the Multicultural Families Book series edited by John Buckland.
Inspector Rod Hodgins came from Central Police Headquarters to invite us all to a meal with them, and to see over the police station, then to discuss ways of co-operation between Police and different cultural groups.
We decided to start planning for the 1992 Exhibition at the Museum. The famous writer and balsawood raft voyager Thor Heyerdahl of Kon Tiki Expedition fame, came to give a talk in the Museum Auditorium. On 9th September we were invited to attend the Dedication Service of the Aotea Centre. The Society purchased two seats in the Balcony, K2 and 9.
On November 17 many of our members attended the opening of the Awataha Marae by Sir Paul Reeves. A totem pole clearly visible today for motorists driving on the motorway past Northcote toward the Harbour Bridge was presented by a tribal group of North American Indians visiting New Zealand.. This huge totem pole was featured at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.
I was one of 20 women honoured by the Pan Pacific Club with a Certificate honouring women.
The AMS meeting was at St Mark’s Hall on November 5th. On the 10th we were all invited to the annual Diwali Festival of Lights at 8pm at Gandhi Hall by Mr Ramubhai Patel. It was a great and happy experience with vibrant dancing by dozens of talented performers from different Indian Schools of Dance.
We set up our Christmas tree on Nov 29th among dozens of other elaborately decorated trees and took it down again at the end of December. The ethnic dolls we featured on the branches with identification for each culture provided an unsual theme. Many visitors paused to study the colourfully dressed miniature dolls. It was another way of bringing our cultures together.
Our last meeting was brief and was held at the home of our President Thurai and his wife Rani’s home in Remuera. We could thus more quickly socialise and enjoy a delicious dinner, with each member contributing a generous plate of ethnic savouries or sweets. We learned much about Tamil family life as we met some of our hosts’daughters, all three of whom have excelled academically. We were most grateful for their hospitality.
Our Society membership strengthened during the year. We were joined by Mr Ghazi Dassouki of the Arab – New Zealand Cultural Society, a Belgian representative, Ms Simone Robert, a Chinese community member, Iva Kai Fong and Mr Nathan Saminathan who at firsr represented the Tamil Society but later changed to the Malaysian Society. Mrs Gloria Guile joined to represent the Philippines community and Ms April Peteru joined us from the Samoan community.
The first meeting for 1991 was held on 4th February, chaired by Mr Thuraisundaram. The secretary, Mr John Buckland was not able to be present, so I typed the minutes. The study theme for 1991 was on child-rearing practices in different ethnic families John had prepared two pages of guidelines to help members prepare their talks and also invited them to write a fuller account for a book he proposed to compile. At the AGM on March 4th Thurai was re-elected as our Chairperson, John as Secretary, and Eric Baggen continued as Treasurer.
We met again on 8th of April. Our representative from the Jewish Council of Women Mrs Gerti Blumenfield sought leave and she arranged for MrsYvonne Robinson to take her place. Our Ngati Whatua representative, Marcel Thompson left to work in Australia without finding a replacement.
On 6th May Mr Les Mills, the Mayor of Auckland and our Patron and Mayoress Colleen Mills came to the meeting. He gave us a short talk on his hopes for extending multicultural activities in the city. We arranged for an ethnic supper for them so that they would get to know us and to learn of our activities. We appreciated the interest shown by both of them in our work. We made sure he was on our mailing list to receive our Newsletter to keep him informed on our activities.
We did not meet again until 10th of June due to the Queen’s Birthday. It was my turn to give a talk, so I did my best, speaking on the role of English parents in the bringing up of their families. On 1st July our speaker did not turn up, so the meeting was devoted to planning for our next Multicultural Youth Concert, this time to be held at the Pakuranga Mall. John Buckland reported that he had made a preliminary visit to the Mall and gained the support of management for a concert to start at 6pm on Thursday 4th July but this was later rescheduled for Friday 18th July.
John Buckland worked very hard to make this evening a success. He had called at several different schools to meet principals and teachers, some of whom he knew well from his visits to observe his students doing their teaching practice stints. He had no refusals whatsoever and was able to arrange for a strong programme drawing on the talents of young people in local primary and secondary schools.
These included an enthusiastic Maori Culture Group from Edgewater College, a beautifully costumed troupe of Chinese girls performing a tea-pickers’ dance from Pakuranga College, French and English songs performed by Pakuranga Intermediate pupils and the St Kentigern College band and choir. A specially pleasing contribution came from Howick Intermediate School where Taiwanese girls performed a traditional tribal dance, talented Chinese violinists and keyboard performers delighted the audience and other pupils presented folk dances and modern jazz dances. It was a full and varied
programme to plan for. Everything flowed smoothly with all performers arriving punctually. John Buckland also organized the lighting and sound systems. He had arranged for publicity in the local community newspapers so there was a very big attendance by the public. Cecil Lochan again contributed his skills as a compere for the show. A number of our Society members also came along for the evening and helped dismantle equipment afterwards.
A few days later John Buckland arranged for follow-up photographs and prepared news reports for the local newspapers to thank all who had participated. The principals and staff of the contributing schools all received letters of thanks as well. He also arranged for Thuten to print a large certificate to present to each performer at the end of the evening. Each certificate stated
“You have shown the importance and value of sharing your talents with others,
at the same time providing enjoyment for Aucklanders. We wish you
every success in all you undertake in the future.”
At the July meeting our Chinese representative Arthur Loo gave his talk on Chinese family life. On Sunday 14th July I had a number of our members to lunch in my home, so we could relax and meet informally. On Monday 15th at 2pm some of us were able to attend the Massey Homestead invitation to view the art of a Chinese artist and to mix with the multicultural staff workers there.
At the August 5th meeting, Gerti Blumenfield gave a fascinating talk on child-rearing practices in the Jewish Community. She also issued an invitation to attend her grandson’s Barmitzvah on 24rd of August. The Arab-New Zealand Cultural Society, Ghazi Dassouki issued us all an invitation to an Arab evening “Oriental Delights’ at the Jack Dickie Hall on 21st September.
August 24th was a Saturday and we followed up the invitation from Gerti Blumenfield to attend her grandson’s Barmitzvah. This takes place on the boy’s 13th birthday. His preparation starts a year earlier when he has intense study of the laws and lore of Judaism. He is then welcomed as an adult into the community. Men always cover their heads when in a holy place or for prayer.We all went to the synagogue and witnessed the religious ceremony. We also were taken on a tour of the buildings.
We were shown the Holy Scrolls and many important treasures such as the Ark, the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses. Shalom means PEACE and is the greeting used by Jewish peoples.
On Monday 2nd September, I was asked at the last moment to chair the meeting. Luseanne Koloi regrettably left us a Tongan representative. She had done valiant work and taught us a great deal about her people. She gave many demonstrations on the making of tapa cloth. No replacement seemed forthcoming. Rev. Ama Tangitepu was warmly welcomed as a new representative for the Cook Islands (Pukapuka Atoll). John Buckland and Arona Tariau attended the closing ceremony of the Specifically Samoa Exhibition held at the Massey Homestead. The Mayor of Manukau City, Mr Barry Curtis spoke of the high unemployment levels and how multicultural arts helped relieve stress.
The guest speaker was Mr Richard Northey who was the local representative for the Northern Regional Arts Council. There was very active discussion with him how his Council and the ACC must be aware of the huge number of ethnic groups arriving in NZ and they must now be included in programmes, especially in schools.
On October 7th Mrs Winifred Maindonald offered tickets for the Welsh National Singing Festival at Labour Weekend. Mr Ramubhai Patel gave a talk on Indian child- rearing practices. Mrs Avis Cooper gave an invitation to our Society to attend PPSEAWA’s Christmas Party on 7th December.
The December Christmas meeting and party took place at Gandhi Hall. It was arranged by Ramubhai Patel. Everybody brought a plate and there was plenty of food.
The Christmas tree featuring ethnic dolls was again set up by John and Catherine in the display foyer of Aotea Centre among dozens of other more traditionally decorated trees.
The year was another successful one under Thurai’s chairmanship, with a great deal
gained by members sharing their knowledge with others. The year was also notable for the encouragement of the younger generation of school students becoming involved in performing together and sharing their talents with the wider public.
During 1992 our Society became involved in helping New Zealanders understand and appreciate the wide range of Festivals enjoyed by people within their cultures. Having decided on this, we planned the year’s activities around this theme. Mr Arthur Loo of the Chinese Community was elected as Chairperson at our AGM on March 2nd.
The following were the members for 1992:
Mr Arthur Loo President Chinese Community
Mr Ghazi Dassouki Arab – NZ Cultural Society
Mr Sami El-Amanni Arab – NZ Cultural Society
Mr Ataur Rahman Treasurer Bangladesh – NZ Friendship Society
Mr Golam Rahman Khan Bangladesh – NZ Friendshop Society
Ms Simone Robert Belgian Community
Mr John Buckland QSM Secretary British New Zealander
Mrs Catherine Caughey British New Zealander
Miss Yin Ling Tsang Chinese Community
Mr Arona Tariau Cook Islands.(Pakapuka)
Mr Ama Tangitepu Cook Islands (Pukapuka).
Mr Anthony Culav Croatian Community
Mr Cecil Lochan JP Auckland Ramayan Trust
Mr Jagdish Natali JP Auckland Indian Assn.
Mr Ramubhai Patel Auckland Indian Assn.
Mr Manuchehr Riahi Iranian Community
Mr Abbas Shahroodi Iranian Community
Mr Kath Doran Auckland Irish Club
Mr Gerti Blumenfield Jewish Community
Mr & Mrs Roy and Kyung Sook Wilson Korean Community
. Mr Nathan Saminathan Auckland Malaysian Society
Mr Mel Fernandez Auckland Malaysian Society
Mrs Florence Watene Maori Community
Mrs Gloria Thompson Japeth Maori Community
Mrs Lisetta Pilisi Niuean Community
Mrs Avis Cooper Pan Pacific and South East Asian Women’s Assn.
Miss Maryam Mortazee Persian Cultural Community
Mr Frank Lealaiauloto Samoan Advisory Council
Mrs Siva Pasupati, Mrs Silogini Subramaniam New Zealand Tamil Society
Mr S.K.Thuraisundaram New Zealand Tamil Society
Mr Thuten Kesang Tibetan Community
Mr Sione Tupou Tongan Community
Mrs Winfred Maindonald Auckland Welsh Society.
Mr Walter Duckstein Auckland Welsh Society
Mr Eric Baggen who had served as our valued Treasurer for a number of years
resigned because of work pressures. We were fortunate to have Ataur to succeed him as he is a Chartered Accountant. Tribute was paid to Thurai who had served our Society for two years running as a dedicated President and John paid a tribute to Eric with whom he had a very good working relationship. The financial statement was healthy showing a balance of $15,921, this figure having been increased by the sale of the Society’s educational books.
On March 10th there was a memorial service at the Cenotaph for the Tibetans. The lighting of butter lamps and candles and the laying of flowers represented a simple way of remembering the 1.2 million Tibetans who lost their lives following the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese in 1954. Our Tibetan representative, Thuten Kesang read a special message from the Dalai Lama. Thuten is the official representative in New Zealand for His Holiness and plays a great part in co-ordinating his visits. China was excluded from joining the Olympic Games because of its refusal to sign the UN Human Rights Agreement.
In April the Dalai Lama visited New Zealand and gave a moving and inspiring address in Aotea Centre which was filled to capacity with well-wishers who travelled from far and wide to hear His Holiness. The Dalai Lama was recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988. He spoke on the subject “Leading a Meaningful Life”. Many of our members were honoured to be present.
On June 30th the Arab Community invited the Multicultural Society to their party held at the Jack Dickie Centre to commemorate their struggle for human rights where hundreds of thousands of Arabs are still in refugee camps in Palestine. While our immmigrant and refugee groups value being able to live in New Zealand, their thoughts are often with their loved ones in their homelands. The programme included some vibrant belly dances by strikingly costumed women performers.
Our meetings were mostly involved in planning our Exhibition to be held at the Museum from the 11th July until 26th. We could not hold it in the Exhibition Hall as Auckland photographer Glen Jowitt had been allocated this area for a striking collection of photographs taken on his travels through Central Asia. We were given the use of the much more spacious Auditorium next door. To accommodate the very large number of exhibits provided by our different cultural groups we had to add to the display stands by borrowing screens from Smith and Caughey and the Art Department at Diocesan School.
It was valuable having both exhibitions on at the same time as visitors were able to take in the richness of our diverse cultures.
The title of our Exhibition chosen as the theme for 1992 was Multicultural Festivals and Rituals. A total of 17 of our member groups participated.The Arabs presented fine collections from many Arab lands, which were ably displayed by Mr Ghazi Dassouki and other members of the Arab Cultural Society. The Malaysian Society presented a display of kites brought in by their national Malaysian Airlines showing aspects of the popular annual kite festival in the northeast state of Kelantan. Maryam Mortezaee from the Persian Cultural group cooked and prepared food for an attractive display of dishes and artifacts used when celebrating the Iranian New Year Festival (Now Ruz).
The Maori community, with assistance from John Buckland and using photographs by Glenn Jowitt set up a photographic display to show the rituals of canoe building and the blessing of waka. Mr Arona Tariau of the Cook Islands community carved a special scale model of an outrigger canoe commonly used on his home atoll of Pukapuka. Arangements were made to feature a full-sized canoe from the Museum collection. John helped set up information details to explain the traditional rituals associated with canoe-building and fishing.
The Jewish community constructed a full scale sukkot or temporary shelter used to provide protection for the Israelite followers of Moses when they spent 40 years in the desert wilderness after their flight from the Egptian slavery. The temporary shelters provided cover from the wind, the sand, the heat of the day and bitterly cold nights. The Jewish Scriptures tell of God commanding the Israelites to keep Sukkot – the Feast of the Tabernacles, so even today, Jewish people in New Zealand and all over the world set up a sukkot beside their homes and follow the rituals required for seven days using the shelter for eating, resting and even sleeping under the stars.
The British New Zealanders displayed their symbols of the Nativity and Christmas. Many aspects of the symbols of Christmas, a model of the crib and Three Wise Men who visited the baby Jesus in the manger, the decorated Christmas tree, the giving of Christmas cards, carol singing, the festive dinner, mistletoe and decorations were set up by John and myself.
Tony Culav of the Croatian community set up a display of artifacts and information to illustrate the struggle for and celebration of independence of the Croatian people in a former Yugoslavia torn by internal struggle between different ethnic and religious factions. The Irish community chose St Patrick’s Day as the focus for a colourful display of exhibits, with emphasis on their Patron Saint Patrick.. Other groups exhibiting included the Chinese New Year and Dragon Boat celebrations, the rituals that take place when an Indonesian puppet theatre performance takes place and a display showing aspects of the Indian Deepavali or Festival of Lights and the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birthday.
Even more variety was provided in the festivals exhibition with a photographic display and artifacts by Liseta Pilisi for the Niuean community showing the important hair-cutting ceremony for young boys. The Holy Month called the Fast of Ramadan celebrated world wide by Moslems was chosen as the theme for a display by the Bangladesh community. Mrs Maindonald, Mr Walter Duckstein and their Welsh Club members portrayed aspects of their wonderful Welsh music festivals and choir singing
associated with St George’s Day. Thuten Kesang set up a visually exciting display
showing the rituals associated with honouring His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Tamil community set up a special display showing how guests are welcomed into their homes and the Samoans displayed the exhibits and materials used for their kava ceremony. Sione Tupou from Tonga arranged for a display including John Buckland’s photographs he had taken at the special annual festival called White Sunday. On this occasion, children go to church with their families in white shirts and trousers for the boys and frilly white dresses for the girls. White Sunday is also a way of honouring the Tongan king.
Before the opening, John Buckland invited the Auckland Social Studies Teachers Association to set up a preview function at the Museum so teachers could see the exhibition and plan better how their students could use special resource materials he had designed for school use.
He had put in three months of voluntary work before the Exhibition opened to design a book publication to accompany the Museum event. This was geared to meet teachers’ needs and was called the Multicultural Festivals Resource Book. Profusely illustrated, the book included many practical activities to enable teachers to follow up the class visit to the Museum with many weeks of intense work. All the cultural groups who exhibited were invited to submit information to help explain their displays. John used a variety of methods to increase pupils’ interest in these festivals by adding his own line drawings, photographs, maps, crossword puzzles and suggestions for other resources. He also included much helpful information to explain the exhibits in Glenn Jowitt’s photographic exhibition. This book has been so popular it has been through five reprintings and is used in polytechnic and teachers’ college courses.
As many as 200-300 students visited the Festivals exhibition daily, mostly from the intermediate schools, both private and state. Several senior classes also came. We received letters of appreciation from head teachers and staff stating how beneficial they had found the exhibition and resources provided. It was stated 8000 students had seen the Exhibition.
Our Patron the Mayor, Mr Les Mills opened our Exhibition and there was an assembly of important invited guests from all our cultures. After viewing the Exhibition we all gathered in the supper-room for an exciting ethnic supper. The media ran short reports. Each was accompanied by a photograph. The New Zealand Herald gave excellent coverage in its special Educational Page feature.
John Buckland was asked to send in to the Auckland City Council a report on the outcomes of the Exhibition, because a Community Grant had been made available to assist in the costs of mounting the show. These are some of the points he made to Ms Civil, the Funding Adviser in his letter sent on 30 March 1993:
1. We believe that this event has brought people of diverse cultures alongside one
another, increasing opportunities for interaction, understanding and appreciation of
one another as fellow New Zealanders.
2. Through cultural sharing, contacts have been made which will enable groups to seek
one another’s support for future multicultural events, thus increasing community
support for cultural programmes.
3. Members of our own Society, through working collaboratively to present their cultural
displays have increased their sense of companionship and co-operation within our
own organization in working to achieve a common goal. Many members have found a
strong network of support among other members in helping them to resolve planning
problems, and some have learned to improve techniques of display using modern
technology such as the colour copier and computer.
4. An increasing number of Aucklanders are now aware of the work of the Auckland
Multicultural Society and much goodwill has been generated.
5. Multicultural teaching and learning programmes in schools have been strengthened,
especially those encouraging schools with a strongly monocultural composition to
increase the experiences of their young people in meeting and interacting with people
of other cultures. On the other hand, pupils in richly diverse multicultural schools
which visited the Exhibition have had their self esteem, identity and pride in their
individual cultures strengthened by seeing their cultural displays on show at the
6. The Society has greatly appreciated the high level of support and co-operation
received by the Auckland Institute and Museum through its hard working staff,
business firms such as Sound Plus for use of video facilities without charge, the Holy
Trinity Cathedral for the loan of its Nativity Crib for the English Christmas display
and Smith and Caughey Ltd for loan and transport of screens and Christmas exhibits.
Finally, the Society wishes to thank the Grants Committee of the Community Development and Recreational Department for valued financial assistance received which helped make the Exhibition so successful.
At the September meeting I had to stand in for John as he had arranged to travel overseas with Brenda for a holiday during which he gathered further multicultural resources for use in Social Studies publications for New Zealand schools.
At the AMS meeting Arthur Loo reported that he had attended a Laotian function at Mangere Community Centre. Ataur Rahman, our Bangladeshi representative pointed out that some new migrants such as the Laotian and Cambodians were still facing considerable adjustment problems before joining us.
John and I again set up the Aotea Centre Christmas Tree. This year each culture was asked to supply a greeting card if possible in their own language. These cards when mounted on the branches of the fir tree provided a very interesting and novel way of showing our cultural togetherness.
On December 6th some of us attended a beautiful concert given by the Welsh Choir. On December 7th, the year ended with a feeling of goodwill and happiness at the lovely party at the home of our President Arthur Loo and his wife Jenny. We had certainly all worked hard during the year, and many friendships had been cemented.
Overall, the year showed us going from strength to strength under the guidance of Mr Arthur Loo, one of our most effective presidents yet. One spin-off of the Festivals theme was that Michael Leyden Publications based in Devonport and one of the most prolific producers of exciting colour photograph kits for schools was so impressed with the work done at the Exhibition that he engaged John Buckland as an educational consultant to assemble a large kit of colour photographs and a 112-page Teacher’s Guide called Festivals and Ceremonies. This photo set covering nine of our Society’s cultural groups has become a companion set to accompany our Multicultural Festivals Resource Book for Teachers which is still in steady demand eight years after it was published. It has been reprinted five times.
The first meeting of 1993 was on 8th February held at St Mark’s Church committee room. We were all saddened by the death of our first Maori representative, Archdeacon Sir Kingi Ihaka. In my role as founder of the Society, I paid tribute to this eminent leader and citizen, saying that Sir Kingi, born in 1921, was a scholar, a gifted orator, a composer and musician who contributed a tremendous amount of work to the promotion of Maori language, dance, song and the needs of youth. In 1987 he assisted in the development of a marae for Maori in Australia and received a knighthood for his lifelong work in 1989. Members stood in silence in tribute to his memory. I wrote a letter of condolence to his daughter.
The Chairperson, Mr Arthur Loo also expressed the Society’s condolences to Mrs Gerti Blumenfield who recently lost her father. A card was received from Thurai in London who had gone to his daughter Brakashini’s wedding.
I wrote to the Secretary suggesting that the person to open the meeting with prayer should be asked a month in advance instead of on the spot. The Chairperson suggested that the prayer should be to the ‘Supreme Being’ and could be spoken in the native tongue. I also asked for a roster of speakers from our membership to continue speaking each month on aspects of cultural life and customs.
The guest speaker was Mrs Pearline Ferguson representing the Guild of Artists Trust. She explained that they had links with UNESCO. Her organisation was planning a concert programme called Traditional Arts and Cultures which would run from 25-27th April at the Aotea Centre. She wondered if some of our groups could supply items of song or dance each of 12 minutes’ duration each. Those who took part were the Tamils, Mr Rattan Thakurdass, a highly skilled Indian sitar player, the Persian youth group dancers, Taiwanese and Welsh groups.
Mel Fernandes agreed to be the convener of a newsletter sub-committee. It was decided to call it the Multicultural Newsletter. The draft proposal for the first issue Vol.1 No 1 APRIL 1993 was approved with reports to be contributed on Community TV, the Fast of Ramadan and information on National Days such as those of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ireland, Wales and Iran. There would also be a report on the Traditional Arts and Cultures 1993 event, a list of current members and introductory statements by Arthur Loo, John and myself.
At the Annual General Meeting on March 1st 1993, Thuten Kesang was elected as President, Atuar Rahman as Treasurer and John Buckland as Secretary. John was reluctant to continue as Secretary, as he was finding the workload too heavy when combined with his lecturing work at Teachers’ College and other committees such as the Peace Foundation. He had already prepared a list of ideas encouraging other members to provide assistance. Arthur Loo agreed to record the main points of the meetings for John to type, Maryam offered to keep membership records, I undertook to supply copies of the Constitution to members and several offered to help with a “telephone tree”. The Secretary would then be able to handle the other seven monthly tasks which he listed.
At our March meeting, details were finalised for the Guild of Artists Trust concert at Aotea Centre .and planning started for our 1994 Exhibition. Rev. Ama Tangitepu reported that the large Pukapukan Cultural group had attended the Manu Ariki Festival in Taranaki and had been featured on TV. Mel Fernandes reported he would have the first Newsletter ready by March 5th. I suggested that Society members might like to attend a church service at St Marks, just as our members had enjoyed visiting the Jewish synagogue. Maryam extended an invitation to the Iranian New Year dinner on March 19th. The Ethnic Council invited us to join them in an Ethnic Delight at 5.30 on 20th March and to bring a plate.
At our first meeting for 1994 on 7th February. Mrs Anne Kiddie replaced Miss Christine Enoka as the PPSEAWA representative. We were deeply saddened to learn later that Christine was suffering from cancer. After a brave struggle she died later in the year. Some of our members joined her family at the funeral.
On a happier note, February 9th was Chinese New Year and Chinese the world over celebrated the Year of the Dog. We were disappointed to hear Mel Fernandez announce that he was too busy to continue editing our Newsletter. The publication had just got off the ground.
Winifred Maindonald informed us of St David’s Day celebrated by all of the Welsh community on March 1st and invited our members to take part. At the same time Peter Tohill announced his resignation from the Race Relations Office after years of capable service. He was going to devote his time to plans to promote community TV to cater for our different ethnic groups not currently given time on national TV.
John Buckland reminded us that our Exhibition at the Museum would be from 12-24th July. He suggested the title ” The Year of the Family” as 1994 was the The Year of the Family stipulated by the UN. I reminded members that our Society was founded in the International Year of the Child.
A tragic event had taken place earlier in the year in West Auckland when two youths attempting to rob the superette of the Indian owner Mr Navin Govind, struck him to the ground with the cash register, resulting in his death. Community concern at the increasing violence in different communities led to a public meeting which I attended on behalf of the Society. John who had just completed a new publication titled “Meeting Our Multicultural Neighbours” gained approval from the Society to dedicate the book to Mr Govind’s memory. He hoped that the 60 suggestions for getting to know families of different backgrounds would help reduce callous behaviour in local neighbourhoods and build stronger and safer communities.
At a civic reception arranged by our member Mr Gene Leckey, our President Thuten Kesang and John Buckland met with Waitemata City Mayor Bob Harvey, two local MP’s, Chris Carter and Jack Elder and members of the Govind family. Thuten presented the widow Mrs Joshua Govind with a copy of the book expressing our condolences. Following afternoon tea, everyone moved out to the grounds of the Council building and planted two trees. The children planted a rhododendron and Mrs Govind, an Indian bead tree. It was a sad and moving occasion.
At the 1994 Annual General Meeting .Mr Walter Duckstein representing the Welsh club was elected our next president.
Thuten’s report as retiring president gives a very good idea of his services and experiences. “It is a great honour for me a Tibetan with such a small community to have been President of the Auckland Multicultural Society for the past year. In some ways, it has been a difficult year with so many different ethnic groups forming organizations of their own rather than putting their energies behind an organization such as ours, which has been well established and functioning well. am sure our Society will go on for a long time to come, and I look forward to being able to continue to be part of it i11 the future.
There are a lot of pleasures in being President, such as being able to accept invitations that have been sent to me as President of the Society. The following are the events that I have attended at the invitation of fellow members of the Society.
The Malaysian evening where at a demonstration of a Malaysian wedding I was presented with a gift by the “bride and groom.” The Arab evening where we saw lovely classical dancing and heard stories and jokes told by various performers.
Opening of the Indian Association Mahatma Gandhi Centre (second stage), where we were treated to some typical Indian dancing together with Indian music, some of it old music which brought back memories of my years in India. The Indian Association must be congratulated for its achievements in having a debt-free complex. I look forward to the opening of the third stage, which at the rate of progress made already, should not be too far away.
Cook Islands Pukapuka Island Day where I was the first guest speaker, where we were treated to different aspects of three communities that live there. There was a competition between groups which centred around the three villages, and I was one of the judges.
Bangladesh Independence Day Celebration where I was privileged to be asked to speak on behalf of our Society. There was a lovely concert involving dancing, plays and poetry reading.
Each of the above events was accompanied by its own individual food, so I was privileged to sample food from many different parts of the world.
Another event which involved my participation on behalf of the Society was: Asia 2000 Foundation Festival: Our Society was invited to assist by performing t a Cultural Show as part of Asia 2000 Week in July and we formed a sub committee to organize the show in the Auckland Town Hall. Subsequently, however, on the advice of one of our committee members, Mr Mel Femades, it was decided to transfer the event to the China Oriental Markets with the performance to be staged over the whole weekend. would like to thank personally Mel and Angela Philp for the success of the event.
I, together with Mr Thurai Thuraisundaram and Mr Mel Fernandez, represented the Society at a meeting with the directors of New Zealand on Air to discuss the formation of a regular ethnic television programme like the Maori and Pacific programmes. During the meeting I was able to suggest many hints as to the way this could be achieved. I hope that in the future these recommendations will be acted upon.
We were invited to participate in the performance at the .Aotea Centre of the Auckland Guild of Artists and as President, I gave the opening speech. Although the event was organized by the Guild of Artists, the burden of organizing our member groups to perform fell on the shoulders of John Buckland and deserves a special mention.
Most of our members and their partners were able to be present at the 70th birthday celebrations of our Founder, Catherine Caughey. She put on a lovely lunch for about 50 invited guests at St Mark’s Hall and it was indeed an honour for me as President of our Society to present Catherine with an album of messages, photographs and coverage of the events from each members’ culture which had been collected by John Buckland and arranged by him in Catherine’s honour. As it was decided beforehand to create a Life Membership of the Society to Catherine, I was honoured to inform her, and I signed the certificate as she opened the book.
`Earlier in the year, with the assistance of John Buckland, I had submitted a recommendation to the Government for a Royal Honour for Catherine, and to our delight, she was awarded the MBE in the latest New Year Honours. Although the newspapers failed to mention the AMS amongst Catherine’s community involvements, I am sure that our recommendation would have played an important part in her receiving the honour. John arranged for letters of recommendation for her from several important organizations she had worked for over the years. Once again, congratulations, Catherine – we are delighted to have an MBE amongst us.
I have enjoyed my year as President. although this year has had for the first time to my knowledge, an element of politicking, which I hope is only a phase that will soon pass. We have had in the past a most harmonious Society, and I am sure that it will revert to Being so, I cannot end my report without thanking John Buckland who is the kingpin of our Society, and his help has made my work very easy. I would also like to thank Mr Ataur Rahman, our Treasurer, who has presented his Treasurer‘s Report at every meeting with details which l am sure members appreciated. Thanks also are due to the two vice-Presidents, Mnryam Mortezaee and Mr Walter Ducks1eiu.Last but not least, I would like to thank all our members who have regularly attended all our meetings. Treally appreciate your support.”
President February 1994
To return to the elections at the AGM, Mr Ataur Rahman (Bangladesh – New Zealand Friendship Society} was reappointed as Treasurer, Mr Nathan Saminathan (Malaysian Society) Vice-President and John Buckland was again the only one nominated as Secretary. He accepted reluctantly and appealed to all of us to find relief for his workload from representatives of our many cultures.
John announced that the booklet “Meeting out Multicultural Neighbours” was in wide demand. In his time-consuming work of marketing the book New Zealand wide on behalf of the Society, he said that Police Inspector Rod Hodgins had purchased 100 copies for placement in every Community Police Base in Auckland. Schools, welfare agencies, churches, Citizen’s Advice Bureaus and nurse training centres had placed orders after John had mailed out dozens of inspection copies. These were sold at $2.50 each, and reflected the hard work and energy of Thuten Kesang as our printer.
John had also completed a 104-page book “Multicultural Families: Child Rearing Practices” printed by Kesang Enterprises and selling for $14.00. Both books have since proved of tremendous value to the public, to us and to schools. Writers from 18 of our ethnic groups contributed personal accounts of child-rearing methods in their homes in New Zealand. John is most gifted in editing and providing photographs for these publications and the labour is intense, plus being secretary and his teachers’ college work. How can we expect him to work so hard?
We spent time at our meeting assessing our ongoing programme and planning for the Exhibition. A new television programme series of Ethnic Cooking on TV was discussed following an approach made to our Society from the production company Isambard. We agreed to assist and Thuten, Thurai and John attended meetings with Dr N. Rasalingham, president of the Auckland Ethnic Council and producer, Mr Toby Parkinson to draw up lists of cultural groups to be included in the cooking series. The first ofthe 13 different ethnic cooking demonstrations was so successful that Isambard got funding for a second and the following year a third series. Sets of the series were provided for the Society’s video library. Our series helped popularise cooking programmes on most TV channels.
In the following months, most meetings took up time arranging for the Exhibition. The Director of the Museum, Mr Stuart Park was replaced by Dr Rodney Wilson. For the second time we were unable to use the Exhibition Hall and had to set up in the Auditorium. We found the staff from the Art Department, who had always been so friendly, were preoccupied with the difficulties arising from the major refurbishing of the display areas of the Museum. Only limited equipment for our displays had been assembled ready for us to move in. John had to work physically very hard
setting -up the display booths and covering screens with black drapes in readiness for the arrival of our exhibitors.
Because of the size of the Exhibition, I had arranged for the Society to borrow screens from Smith and Caughey Ltd and from the Diocesan School Art Department. Helpers from each group set up their displays. Before the official opening John Buckland arranged for invitations to go out to teachers of the Auckland Social Studies Association for the opening function. He received many orders for the publication “Multicultural Families” designed especially to help teachers visiting the Exhibition with their classes.
I think most of us found the subject of our theme The Year of the Family extremely hard to illustrate. I did my best to relieve John by setting up our stall. We had decided a family experience could be a holiday camp. Pack and Pedal lent me an igloo tent and we displayed camp cooking even to a smoked old frypan containing sausages as well as camping gear and grubby gumboots lying around!
At the opening, arrangements didn’t go smoothly for us. TV presenter Judy Bailey had been invited as the guest of honour to open the Exhibition as she was an ambassador supporting the Year of the Family. She pulled out at very short notice, as I believe one of her children was sick. I thought frantically for a replacement. Sir Edmund Hillary had just returned from Europe, so I telephoned him and he and his wife June most kindly stepped into the breech..,
A touching part of the evening was when children in costumes from each ethnic group on our Society lined up to meet Sir Edmund personally. He spoke briefly about the International Year of the Family and commended us for our contribution. The new Museum Director had been invited to the opening but was not present. We dismantled the displays on 24th July:and were very pleased with the strong public response and the excellent support :ley schools.
On August 2nd we had a meeting with Race Relations staff who had decided that they wished to set up an educational strategy similar to ours, so we decided we had better get together rather than overlap., The Office later produced a valuable series of documents for schools and the..c9mmunity to educate the public on the need to avoid stereotyping people, how to deal with prejudice and ways of building positive race relations.
On September 24th we held a big Multicultural Families Concert at Shore City Mall in central Takapuna. North. Shore City Council assisted through the Northern Regional Arts Council with funding. This followed the initiative of Council staff member Mr 011y Millington, convener of the Healthy City Forum. John attended a series of meetings set up arrangements with Mr Millington. The idea of holding festivals where people naturally congregate certainly proved good sense. Big crowds viewed the show from every vantage point in the spacious two-level mall.
Our compere for the festival, Thuten Kesang, wearing his traditional Tibetan robe introduced the Awataha Marae Maori Group followed by performers representing Bangladesh, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Korea, Indonesia, Ireland, Niue and Middle East Arab dancers. As with all our events John Buckland arranged the follow-up photographs and news reports to be published in The North Shore Times Advertiser and Shore News.
Korea Day in 1994 was on 29th October. The Auckland Korean Association arranged a major festival in Aotea Square with dozens of stalls making the area look like a Seoul market. Our Korean member Mrs Kyung Sook Wilson acted as a very good interpreter to help our members understand the Korean games being played in the Square and the ingredients of many of the foods offered. In the evening there was a beautiful professionally presented concert in the ASB Theatre with many talented Korean performers who did much to help the large audience appreciate what the Koreans are bringing to enrich our city life.
On 6th November ‘we were invited to Diwali, the Festival of Lights presented in the form of a vibrant and colourful concert by the Auckland Indian Association at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre. Then on 27th November Mr Stephen Chu, one of the production staff of the weekly television programme Asia Dynamic invited us to the end-of-year party at TVNZ where we were introduced to the Education Television Director, Mr Robert Boyd-Bell and the presenters Melissa Lee and Bharat Jamnadas ofETV. Melissa and Bharat were excellent comperes of a highly enjoyable programme of music and dances from the Taiwanese Hwa Hsia Society, the United Sri Lanka Society, the Laotian Society, Philippines Bayanihan Club and the Korean Association.
Just before December John and I set up our Christmas tree for the special annual festival event at the Aotea Centre. Our last brief meeting for the year was on 5th December when we accepted an invitation by the Welsh Society to share their Christmas gathering at their clubrooms at Ellerslie Racecourse.
We commenced the year 1995 on 13th February in good spirits with a meeting which went very well. We started planning for election of new officers for the Annual General Meeting on 6th March. Our former vice-president Nathan Saminathan of the Auckland Malaysian Society was elected to succeed Walter Duckstein.
Other appointments were Mr Sami El-Amanni (Arab Egyptian) as Treasurer, Mr Ataur Rahman (Vice President) Bangladesh-NZ Friendship Society and Mr Sione Tupou, of the Tongan community.became the second Vice-President. Mr John Buckland reluctantly agreed to carry on, expressing disappointment again that so few would come forward to assist. He said he was very grateful to Mr Arthur Loo of the Auckland Chinese Community for preparing the Minutes each month ready for word processing.
The year 1995 turned out to be a most stressful year in many ways. It was decided to revise the Constitution on one or two small points, but instead of leaving this to our lawyer to deal with these, the President and a few members insisted on going through every clause in the Constitution with a fine-tooth comb. This caused each meeting to get bogged down with a constant stream of amendments, each of which had to be discussed the following meeting after members took the changes back to their Associations for consideration.
This involved a great deal of committee time at nearly every meeting and set back our chances of achieving the usual constructive activities for which our Society was becoming highly regarded in the community. The Secretary had to put in many hours typing out the amendments each month until agreement on the final revised form of the Constitution was reached.
The other stressful and disappointing experience was that we had failed to fix the
dates for our bi-annual Exhibition. The new Museum director Dr Rodney Wilson, after two formal meetings with him, promising we could have our Exhibition, eventually decided the Schools Education Officer Mrs Wendy Johnstone would arrange for us to join them in a small display to be entitled Masks and Musical Instruments. This was to replace our usual large scale exhibition. The space offered was very limited and no alternative was offered.
Eventually, it was relocated to the ‘Fish Hall’ and would be available at the end of November. The date was useless to us, because most school programmes were winding down for the year and teachers would not be interested in visiting with their classes and trying to start a new topic so late. We also believed it would be difficult to incorporate exhibits for at least 20 cultural groups into such a long narrow-corridor-type area with limited lighting.
The object of our exhibitions, after all, was geared to schools, with thousands of children from both state and private schools coming to learn about cultural practices of our many Multicultural Society ethnic groups. We realised the Museum management had little commitment to the type of exhibitions we had staged so successfully in previous years. John Buckland also informed us that the Science Teachers Association wanting to mount its hugely popular Schools Science Exhibition were told they could no longer use the Museum. We had always regarded the Museum as a valuable community asset, but management was now accepting only revenue-earning exhibitions. We finally abandoned our Exhibition project after spending so much time with such little support.
The cultural highlights of the year started by combining with the Irish Society on St Patrick’s Day, with an ethnic supper at their Hall on Great North Rd, Newton. We listened to wonderful Irish poetry, and watched their dancers from several Schools of Irish Dance. As part of the International Year of Tolerance we valued being able to join the Irish in a magnificent parade up Queen Street, some members later in the week, venturing into popular Irish pubs to listen to stirring Irish bands, joining in the singing and trying a glass of Guinness.
Some of our members attended the opening of the Korean School in Auckland following an invitation by our member Mrs Kyung Sook Wilson, who played a big part in the founding of the school. Then there was a Buddhist birthday celebration at a church hall to which Kyung Sook and members of the congregation welcomed us. Later in the year she invited some of us to attend her celebration at the Centra Hotel for winning an essay competition judged in Korea on ‘What it is to be an immigrant in a foreign country’
Asia Dynamic hosted a party for 150 guests to which we were invited. We contributed with some of the entertainment and the ethnic food. Prominent TV personnel were present. The occasion was enjoyed by all.
Our Indian Association member, Mr Ramubhai Patel had been honoured in the Queen’s Birthday list by receiving the QSM. He was highly regarded as the head teacher
and co-ordinator of the Gujarati Indian School Centre with responsibility for 150 pupils
learning the Hindi language. He graciously turned on a celebration party for his family and friends at Gandhi Hall, inviting some of the Multicultural Society. Mrs Christine Fletcher MP was guest speaker and thanked Ramubhai for his contribution to the Indian community and to the National Party. I was also invited to say a few words on behalf of the AMS. John Buckland was given the privilege of presenting a Certificate of Recognition to Ramubhai from the Auckland Muliticultural Society printed by Kesang Enterprises. He paid tribute to Ramubhai and his family, saying he was working in the same tradition as the great peace-maker Mahatma Gandhi.
The City Librarian Mrs Margaret Birbeck with Mr Donald Kerr in charge of the Rare Books Dept. invited us to an evening function at the City Library to view the multicultural collection of Bibles printed in 14 different languages including Maori. These had been collected over many years by Governor Sir George Grey.
Despite all the difficulties experienced at committee meetings with the Constitution, John Buckland carried on with the planning of the 1995 Multicultural Family Festival
which was held on the weekend of July 8-9th at the China Oriental Markets. For the first time, after he made a very detailed application, the Society received funding of $25,000 from Auckland City Promotions. He met twice with the market manager Mr Robert Ottignon who made the total stage area and sound system available to us without cost. Robert assisted with advertising. We were able to provide cultural entertainment for an estimated crowd of 4,000 visitors over the two days. Our Secretary was also responsible for liaison with the different ethnic performers including some large professional groups of Pacific Islands entertainers This was the first time we had ever been able to make decent payments to cover the expenses of performers and the chance to engage some big professional groups.
We arranged for our Patron the Mayor, Mr Les Mills to open the festival. Mr Mills was hosted by Ataur Rahman for this important occasion as our president Nathan was away in Malaysia. The comperes were Mr Gene Leckey (Eurasian Society) on the first day followed by Mr Thuten Kesang. Mr and Mrs Mills so enjoyed themselves they stayed for the afternoon and joined in rhythmic clapping with the audience for some lively items.
For the final item of the festival on Sunday afternoon, all members of our Society who were present were invited up on stage to join hands with the Maori performers for the singing of “Auld Lang Syne”. It was a nostalgic occasion for Robert Ottignon because the company which had bought the land between the Oriental Markets building as far as the Railway Station had major redevelopment plans. The markets were closed down and for several years the building served only as a car park. Even by the year 2000 no major development has taken place.
Asia Dynamic covered the festival for a special programme on its Sunday TV One slot. As well, a company called Navrang Productions filmed the entire 2-day programme and produced two professional videos for us. This helped promote the work of our Society and the Secretary mailed out video sets to a large number of purchasers.
I quote from the report to Auckland City Promotions prepared by John Buckland following the event:
“Five days after the staging of the Multicultural Family Festival, telephone calls and messages were still being received congratulating our Society for providing such an enjoyable community event. It was clearly evident that the festival met a need by the different cultural groups in Auckland to celebrate their diversity. The event also generated goodwill among many people attracted to the markets venue. An illustration of this was the determination of an elderly 85 year-old woman from West Auckland who so enjoyed the Saturday programme that despite cold weather, she bussed again into the city to see the full Sunday programme.
“The Oriental Markets proved appropriate for such an informal event, partly because of the variety of ethnic shops available, but also because it is a natural meeting place for the city’s cosmopolitan population. The audience was more intimately involved with the performers because they surrounded all four sides of the stage. Audience participation was also at a higher level than when people are seated in formal rows some distance from a stage such as in the ASB Theatre.
This was the most effective event ever held by our Society, partly because of the funding made available. The Auckland City Promotions banner across Queen Street publicising our show, the colour posters we had printed and widely distributed, the advertisements in the NZ Herald and six suburban newspapers, the promotion done for us by Asia Dynamic, the Metro colour photo spread by professional photographer Glenn Jowitt and funding for the Navrang Productions video provided a valuable record of multiculturalism in action.
“An appealing aspect of the programme featuring Maori, Polynesian, Asian, European and African performers was the large number of children who appeared on stage often wearing superb costumes. It was a specially appealing family event because of this. Visitors including many international tourists, were able to enjoy colourful stage presentations which provided fascinating insights into the cultural values and lifestyles of the many people who make up the city’s multicultural communities. In a very positive way,” John concluded. “Their cultural identities and prestige have been enhanced and positive race relationships effectively promoted.”
In later months, the Arab Society invited us to an Arab Cultural Dinner with their traditional Middle Eastern dancers. The Welsh Society asked us to join them for their Singing Festival held in St Mary’s Cathedral.
Korean Day was October 28th There were magnificent dances and scores of beautifully costumed children some of whom the NZ Herald featured in a striking colour photograph the next day. The photograph included Koreana, youngest daughter of our members Mr and Mrs Roy and Kyung Sook Wilson. Highlights of Korea Day included a presentation both by adults and children playing all types of traditional drums in the Downtown Centre as well as a striking exhibition of arts and crafts at Aotea Centre and in the evening an outstanding concert. Many appetising Korean foods were on sale at the street stalls.
“Celebrating Our Diversity” was the title of our final concert for the year 1995 at the Greek-style amphitheatre on the North Shore close to the park surrounding Lake Pupuke. Four organizations combined to plan the event – the Peace Foundation represented by the president, Mr Kevin McBride and educator Mrs Betty Cole, the Healthy City co-ordinator, Mr Ollie Millington who arranged community funding, the United Nations Association and John Buckland from the Multicultural Society. The festival was a tremendous success and well attended. It was voted that it should become an annual performance.
John had made contact with all the performing groups, starting with Hato Petera College students and Wairau Intermediate’s Maori Club.Thuten Kesang served as our usual cheerful compere. The audience enjoyed contributions by the Irish, Bangladeshi, Filipinos, Koreans and Balinese in the newly opened outdoor theatre. He arranged with the North Shore Children’s Art House to exhibit their striking artwork as murals. The Director Shona Hammond Boys spoke to the audience about the important link between creativity and the need for parents to encourage children of different ethnic groups to express themselves. For the first time John arranged for community groups to set up stalls by the lakeside. These included UNICEF, the Shakti Asian Women’s Support Group, local community groups and other popular stalls which made good profits for their own programmes.
The Indian Association as well as the Malaysian Society invited us to share in their November Diwali Festivals. Our last meeting of the year took place at the Welsh Society’s Leger Room at the Ellerslie Racecourse. They invited us to share our Christmas celebration with them.
The membership list for 1996 provides a good illustration of the increasing diversity of our membership: –
Mr Ataur Rahman (President), Bangladesh-NZ Friendship Soc.
Mr Thuten Kesang (Vice President), Tibetan Community
Mr Arthur Loo (Vice President), Auckland Chinese Community.
Mr Ghazi Dassouki (Treasurer), Arab-NZ Cultural Soc
Mr Sami El-Amanni Arab-NZ Cultural Soc.
Mr John Buckland QSM (Secretary), British-NZ.
Mrs Catherine Caughey MBE (Founder), British-NZ.
Miss Donna McKenzie, (Minutes Secretary)
Mr George Antoon, Mr Walid Youkanis Assyrian Soc.
Mr Janmeyjoy Roy, Bangladesh – NZ Friendship Soc.
Mr Ama Tangitepu, Mr Arona Tariau, Pukapuka (Cook Islands)
Mr Anthony Culav, Croatian Soc.
Ms Jannie Van Hees, Ass.Member, New Settlers and Multicultural Education Adviser
Mr Markos Melaku, Mr Tuty Keso Ethiopian Soc.
Mr Cecil Lochan JP, Fiji Indian Community
Mr Patrice le Grand, French Algerian Community
Mr Kantibhai Bhika, Auckland Indian Assn.
Mr Ashok Darji, Assoc. Member, Indian Community
Mr Ramubhai Patel QSM JP, Assoc.Member Indian Community
Mr Wayan Sadra, Indonesian Assn.
Mrs Kath Doran, Mr Thomas Forde, Auckland Irish Soc.
Mrs Judi Hoadley, Jewish Council of Women.
Mr & Mrs Roy & Kyung Sook Wilson Assoc.Members, Korean Community
Mr Daniel S Kim Mrs Aeryun Lee, Korean Society
Mr David Leckey, Mr Gene Leckey, NZ Eurasian Soc.
Mr Pat Peita Mrs Urania Peita, Maori Community
Mr Lawrence Ponniah, Malaysian Soc.
Mr Bikash Koirala, Mr Krishna Malla, Nepal – NZ Friendship Soc.
Mr Charles Fata’aiki, Mr Billy Makahili, Niuean Advisory Council.
Miss Maryam Mortezaee, Persian Women’s Cultural Club.
Mrs Mema Aspinall,Mrs Frances Moore, Council of Samoan Women
Mr Jithman Ramachandra, Mr Priyananda Wijesundra, United Sri Lanka Society.
Mrs Anoma de Silva Assoc.Member, Sri Lankan Community
Mrs S.K. Thuraisundaram JP, Mrs Marie Sabanayagam, Tamil Soc.
Mrs Gwen Kesang, Tibetan Community
Mr Sione Tupou, Tongan Community
Mrs Marie T Dzung Burns, Mr Su Van Vu JP, Vietnamese Child and Family Protection Assn.
Mr Derek Williams, Welsh Soc.
Mr Neville Kay Assoc Member.
The first meeting for 1996 was on 5th February with a good attendance of the above members. On March 1st at Western Springs there was a huge Pasifika Festival in which some of our Polynesian groups took part. There were wonderful displays of Polynesian dancing and competitions between groups, craft and food stalls around the entire perimeter of the lake.
Our AGM took place on 6th March when Mr Ataur Rahman was elected as our President. with Mr Sami El-Amanni as Treasurer, Charles Fatai’iki from the Niuean Advisory Council became our videotape Librarian. John Buckland had now appealed for three years to be relieved of some of his secretarial duties so he could concentrate on the roles of being co-ordinator of events, handling book sales and editing work. None of the group representatives offered any assistance other than Arthur Loo as minutes secretary. In the end I advertised at the University through Student Job Search. Miss Donna McKenzie applied. She was a graduate student from the Anthropology Department. She was working on her thesis in multicultural studies, had her own computer and was willing to become Secretary, so John would be free to continue his valued work to my surprise John appointed her only as Secretary to prepare the Minutes, but he pointed out that she did not have the facilities or time to do more because of her Master’s thesis work. John was greatly relieved when Arthur Loo undertook to do the duplicating at his legal office and to do the mailing
Our sympathy went out to our long-standing member Ghazi Dassouki after his dearly loved wife Jean died of cancer. She was much too young. Many of us attended her Muslim funeral at Waikumete Cemetery. According to Muslim custom she was removed from her coffin wrapped in a shroud and placed gently into a deep grave. Then Ghazi and the children, after prayers took shovels and filled in the grave. We were then invited into the chapel. The entrance to the chapel was filled with happy photographs depicting Jean’s life. After the service Ghazi invited people to his home for refreshments.
I received a most exciting invitation by the Master of the Royal Household who had been commanded by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to invite me to a dinner on board HM Yacht Britannia at Auckland on Monday 24th February at 8.15 pm. I received this honour on behalf of the Auckland Multicultural Society. I was able to report to a secretary that I represented the Society and all that we had been doing and hoped to do. This secretary had been especially asked by Her Majesty to question me as she was most interested.
March 17th was St Patrick’s Day, and as usual the Irish turned on a wonderful parade down Queen Street. Our long-standing member, Kath Doran was made Grand Marshall for the event and sat on a float beside her husband Owen.
On 14th March we attended a welcoming reception at Samoa House for Dr Rajen Prasad, a highly qualified Fiji Indian university lecturer before taking up the position as our new Race Relations Conciliator. This appointment is for a five-year term.
Asia Dynamic added a business name Asia Vision to its management and commenced the year by having a party aboard the harbour ferry ‘Kestrel’ for the Asian supporters of the television programme, our Asian members and our Secretary. John had been attending meetings for a year with Ataur Rahman, Thuten Kesang and Thurai to assist with the planning of future programmes. Thuten also provided valuable support as a member of the Advisory Board.
John Buckland had introduced a major new initiative to build on the good Neighbour Movement he had started with the production of Meeting Our Multicultural Neighbours. The Society approved his idea of working with Asia Dynamic to seek examples of people in the community who had performed kind or compassionate acts to assist a person or group from another culture. The producer of the EdTV series Mr Robin Kingsley-Smith immediately took the plan aboard. John also met with the staff of the Race Relations Office who were pleased to become involved. John worked with Robin to prepare application forms which were widely distributed to people so they could nominate someone who had performed a helpful or courteous act. Presenter Melissa Lee helped promote the ‘Good Neighbour Programme’ each Sunday on Asia Dynamic.
Each week some of the finalists nominated were shown on TV and the momentum built up as more people became involved. We received more than 70 entries. Mr Peter O’Connor, manager of the Race Relations Office and John assisted Robin with the weekly judging and after four weeks selected the four most commendable acts of kindness and goodwill toward people of differing cultures. All 70 contestants were presented with a Certificate printed by Thuten Kesang commending them for their acts of goodwill. The manager of Ocean City Restaurant, Mr George Tan, invited the winners and all who had contributed to the promotion to a lavish Chinese banquet as the guests of Asia Dynamic.
The winners were:
Mr Robert E. Schoon, Remuera nominated by Khaw Moon Tini
Mrs Rose Devodar, Hawera, nominated by Joyce Stevenson
Rona and Bill Garrett, Forrest Hill, nominated by Lee Soon-Ok Jo
Mr Mun Lee, Milford, nominated by Mr Hedley Timbs.
The Bangladesh-NZ Friendship Society invited us to share in their Independence Day celebration on 26th March. For family reasons our Jewish representative Gerti Blumenfield passed in her resignation, and replaced herself with her daughter Mr Judi Hoadley. Mr Sami El-Amanni of the Arab-NZ Cultural Society had to give up his Treasurer’s work because of a serious accident and Mrs Barbara Wesley from the Indonesian Society also resigned. Ghazi agreed to carry on Sami’s work.
Fletcher Challenge had offered us $200 annually towards the Secretary’s expenses in the early years of the Society, but John declined this at the time because he only had a small workload. I then wrote to Fletcher Challenge asking for a renewal of its offer so that Donna could be paid $10 an hour. A cheque for $500 arrived but stating that it was a one-off donation. It was decided to charge each of our ethnic groups a $20.00 membership fee per annum. We had been free from subscription paying all those years. Ghazi Dassouki and Anoma de Silva were appointed to represent us on the Auckland Ethnic Council.
On 13th April John Buckland attended the Tamil New Year celebrations and also the Sinhalese New Year religious celebration and festival on behalf of our Society. He also represented the Society at an afternoon function celebrating the first anniversary of the setting up of the Refugees as Survivors Centre in Parnell. Dr N. Rasalingham QSM, a member of the advisory panel for the RAS Centre was present to welcome guests including Dr Barbara Disley, Director of the NZ Mental Health Foundation. John spent a good deal of his time writing up both events and publishing photographs he had taken so our members could share the occasions in our Newsletter and in the local newspapers.
Mrs Avis Cooper, our loyal and loved representative of PPSEAWA died after a bravely born battle with spinal cancer. This special person left a great gap in our lives and that of her husband Jack and their family. Dozens of friends and supporters called at hospital and later to her home, remembering the special multicultural Christmas functions she organized for Pan Pacific and our members and all her work for Pan Pacific These functions brought together families of many different ethnic communities in an atmosphere of fun, caring and celebration. We joined the family at her funeral on 3rd May at the Methodist Church in Pitt Street.
Later, Thuten published a small book on behalf of Jack Cooper called “Through the Fire” recording the memoirs and poems of Avis, who was appropriately named the “Miracle Lady” by hospital staff.
John Buckland added to the record of our members contributing to the publishing world by praising me for the publication of a new book “World Wanderer”: Kenya to Bletchley Park to New Zealand”.
This book was also printed by Kesang Enterprises.
On June 10th we had a guest speaker, Simon Garner who had started FRENZ (Friends of Racial Equality in NZ). With his new organization, he said he hoped would work alongside us. Mrs Anoma de Silva advised us that the Waitakere City Council had approved of her suggestion to start up a multicultural society group at Henderson, with their headquarters being the Library. She is a Librarian in Waitakere City. Mr Cecil Lochan, a staff member of Manukau City Council, mentioned that the Council was considering setting up a multicultural society there because of its diverse ethnic make-up.
Thurai who works at the Auckland City Council advised us that they were revising
their Mission Statement, but there was no mention of the place of multiculturalism in the
future of the city. This was surprising as Les Mills, the Mayor of Auckland was our
Patron. We asked Thurai to remind them of our existence and to seek recognition of our
goals in the City Councils’ policy. In subsequent months a multicultural advisory group was apparently set up, though we were not informed and the Strategic Plan for the city which resulted incorporated an outstanding section on the role of the city in promoting multicultural goals.
On June 8th the Nepalese-NZ Friendship Society invited us to dinner to meet their Patron Sir Edmund Hillary and to celebrate their founding in 1995. This was a very successful evening in which our members enjoyed folk dances and Nepalese cuisine.
At our next meeting Thuten Kesang informed us that His Holiness the Dalai Lama would be celebrating his 61st birthday in New Zealand. The famous Tibetan addressed a vast audience at the Ellerslie Racecourse with the car-parks full and an aircraft flying over the city with a huge banner signifying his presence in Auckland. His address inspired thousands. He truly is a man of peace.
At our July meeting Maryam Mortezaee introduced us to her fiance Mr Lars Bertelsen from Denmark. She invited us to be her family, and would we all come to their wedding. She had only a sister in NZ and very few friends. Would I act as her mother. Lars had nobody at all in NZ as this was his first visit. To this I readily agreed.
Urania and Pat Peita arranged in July for members of our Society to visit the Te Unga Waka Rununga Marae in Epsom. At least 20 members attended. What a great experience for all of them to experience the Maori culture for that unforgettable evening. They experienced traditional Maori protocol and hospitality.
A few nights later the Koreans had an Art Exhibition at the Aotea Centre which several of us enjoyed attending.
On August 9th 1996 Maryam Mortezaee and Lars Bertelsen arranged their own wedding. They were married in the beautiful old St Mary’s Anglican Cathedral by the Dean of the Cathedral. Lars was a Christian and Maryam a Muslim. John Buckland happily agreed to give the bride away in the absence of Maryam’s father.
They asked me in the weeks before their marriage if they could visit me one evening to discuss various things. First they asked me if I could find them a best man. Lars was of average height, so I suggested that they telephone Arthur Loo. This they did from my home. We were delighted to hear that he gladly accepted the honour. Then they asked me if I would read a passage from the 13th chapter of the Book of Corinthians and could I help with the flowers. These things I said I would be delighted to do. I arranged the Cathedral flowers and cut enough flowers for the reception, but suggested that they could find helpers to arrange these. The reception was to be held at the Danish Hall in Parnell, in fact, within walking distance of the Cathedral. Lars said that he would arrange for
some Danish pasties for the refreshments. Their wedding cake was a sponge with pink icing.
At the end of the meal the lights suddenly were dimmed and the heaters were turned on in the chilly room. Suddenly there appeared a belly dancer. She was the most skilled I had ever seen. She even managed to move her breasts in opposite directions!
When the evening was all over we wished them everlasting happiness. It was an excellent example of cultures working together to achieve a common goal, to bring happiness to a young couple. Lars had to return to his home city of Copenhagen and Maryam accompanied him to start a new life in Denmark. John and I received cards expressing their thanks.
Dr Prasad was our guest speaker at our October meeting. Mr Heval Hylan from the Kurdish Society attended our meeting. It was decided by the Aotea Centre Christmas Tree committee that Auckland schools would take over the decorating of the trees during the weeks before Christmas.
The November meeting was the last for the year 1996. Details were planned for the second two-day Multicultural Family Festival at the China Oriental Markets This was probably the most ambitious festival we had ever organized. There was a note of sadness for us and many other Aucklanders, for the China Oriental Markets were to be closed down. This was in anticipation of redevelopment as part of the Britomart project
John Buckland took on the task of organizing performers from many different cultures to come in sequence over two days. I arranged for Diocesan School for Girls to lend a large number of chairs which were transported to and from the venue by Neville Kay. The comperes Thuten Kesang and Gene Leckey (Eurasian Society) capably kept up the momentum of the weekend festival.
Time was also given at our November meeting to planning for the 1996 Lakeside
Multicultural Festival at Takapuna. Our Secretary had worked for many weeks setting up the performers and meeting with North Shore City Council officer, Mr Ollie Millington to secure a Healthy Cities community grant. John also arranged with art director Shona Hammond Boyes to collect artwork from the North Shore Children’s Art House, and transporting tubs of decorative plants from his home for the outdoor stage. The crowds were even greater than the year before.
With Thuten Kesang as compere and Ataur Rahman provided sterling support, the day went smoothly and some of our members also helped as stewards to keep the momentum of the show going. It was a rush getting cleared up afterwards and some of us were late and tired in arriving at the highly enjoyable end-of-year Christmas party organised by the Welsh Society at their clubrooms at Ellerslie.
The first meeting for 1997 was on 3rd of February and was well attended. The Chinese New Year Festival event was held again at Turners Markets at Mt Wellington. It was the “Year of the Ox.” Then on the 8th of February the Auckland Indian community celebrated their India Day with many food stalls in Aotea Square. It was hard not to think one was not in India with all the lovely saris worn by the Indian women and young girls and the smell of exotic spices as groups from different regions of India worked hard cooking and selling foods.
Pasifika held their festival on March 1st. In spite of a very wet day huge crowds turned out to participate and support the dramatic dancers from all the Pacific Islands. The show gets more exciting year by year. It receives funding each year from Auckland City Council Promotions, making possible such a large scale event.
For the first time the Society’s AGM was not held in March due to a change in dates for the financial year. We were now informed by the IRD that as we were each paying a subscription we would have to pay income tax. Our President continued his term until the June meeting.
The general meeting in March took up much time going through an enormous amount of correspondence. I wrote to the Museum Board, appealing for their help in considering our Society for future Exhibitions, after the Museum had completed their renovations. Markos Melaku gave a well spoken talk on his experiences coming to NZ from Ethiopia.
The Asia 2000 Foundation turned on a four-day Auckland Street Festival after several months of planning. Ataur Rahman, Thuten Kesang, Thurai Thuraisundaram and John Buckland were involved in a series of meetings at the Asia Vision Office with producer Robin Kingsley-Smith and the Asia 2000 co-ordinators from Wellington, Jill Pierce and Jennifer King. We were pleased to be consulted so fully by the Wellington organizers.
Many of the performers were brought in from Asian countries overseas. Mr Patrice Le Grand, our French Algerian member, who operates the Eurotour Guides business assisted with transport of these outstanding performers to and from the airport over several days of this festival. The venue chosen was Elliot Street which was closed to traffic with a big stage set up for many exciting performances. Food stalls were confined to the car park where a building had been demolished several years earlier. Our Tamil dancers performed with other groups on a stage area in Atrium-on-Elliot. The overseas groups hrought in from China, India and South East Asia were shuttled by air between cities as part of the New Zealand-wide Asia 2000 Festival.
During this time Thuten Kesang officiated at the annual Tibetan ceremony held at the Cenotaph commemorating the 38th anniversary of Tibet’s persecution, and gave prayers for peaceful negotiations by the Dalai Lama to resolve the occupation of his homeland.
As a finale to Asia 2000, a garden reception was given by Sir Brian and Lady Barrett
Boyes at Government House. Many of our members were invited. An enchanting multi-ethnic group of talented children had been flown in from Singapore called “The Little Angels” and they came on the afternoon of the garden party specially to dance for us. A traditionally costumed Thai troupe also performed a sedate temple dance.
Our Society received two letters of thanks from the Asia 2000 Foundation
for its role in co-ordinating arrangements which involved many hours of work for our Secretary. In one of the letters, Jill Pierce said:
“We were particularly pleased with the Elliot Street event. It went very well and we
have received a lot of positive feedback about the high standards of food
presentation, interesting variety of cultural performances, the cleanliness of the site
and generally friendly atmosphere. It was wonderful to see a good cross section of
New Zealanders, Asian and non-Asian, older people and children alike enjoying
themselves.Would you please pass on to your membership that we thoroughly
enjoyed the input and assistance we received through the Multicultural Society to
make the festival a success. I thought that the standard of presentation and
performance by local community groups was very high and really made the Festival
a special Auckland event.”
At the 7th April meeting John Buckland announced that his car and suitcase of AMS business files including the next book manuscript and some photographs loaned by members had been stolen after our last meeting. This was a stressful time for him as nothing was ever recovered.
April was a busy month for cultural events. The Irish celebrated St Patrick’s Day with a Queen Street parade that was even grander than in previous years. The Korean Day was held at Aotea Square. It was wonderful to see the women’s elegant silk dresses flowing in many soft colours. They all did a great deal to promote their country. John Buckland covered both events and prepared photojournalism reports for different community newspapers.
The Bangladesh Society invited us all to attend their April Festival commemorating their Independence. On 13th April the Sri Lankans celebrated their New Year. On 11th May the Tamil Society held their annual concert. Our Secretary attended all these functions and recorded his impressions for the Newsletter.
At the AGM Mrs Urania Peita was elected President from the Maori Community, Mr
Ataur Rahman Vice-President, Mr Gene Leckey Vice-President, Mr Ghazi Dassouki Treasurer and John Buckland Secretary. I mentioned that Donna whose expenses as Assistant Secretary had always been paid from a small Fletcher Challenge grant would be leaving at the end of the year. I had discussions with a retired businessman, Mr Duncan Ingram. He was a most experienced Secretary and could be interested in helping us. It was arranged that he would attend the next month’s meeting to meet our members so as to assess his role and for John to decide what duties he would relinquish.
On July 7th two speakers visited us, Mr Vic Sergeant and Mr Brian Osborne, representatives of AMES Resource Trust. They help immigrants and refugees train for work and find employment. They charge for their services. Another guest, Ms Jennifer Janif talked about the LINKS centres which deal with passports and citizenship applications.
At our August meeting I introduced Duncan Ingram so he could decide whether he would like to become our secretary. He said he needed time to discuss what would be involved.
Two nights later John Buckland and Urania Peita attended a function at the Race Relations Office where the Auckland manager, Mr Peter O’Connor launched a new teachers’ reference book“In Tune”. This was available to schools as a guide to help students understand aspects of multiculturalism.
At the monthly meeting I advised that John and I had researched into staging an exhibition at Aotea Centre. The management would supply screens and Smith and Caughey Ltd could lend some glass display cases. The exhibition dates available would be 22 March – 6th April. on the 4th floor. They would be responsible for all publicity at no charge. We decided to start planning at the October/November meetings.
Mr Ghazi Dassouki announced that the Arabian Nights Festival Dinner would be held on 30th August. He presented a memorial cup in memory of his wife Jean to the best dancer, chosen from several talented young finalists on the evening.
On September 1st our guest speaker was Anne Knox, Co-ordinator of Police Community Relations. She had asked to come after reading our book Meeting Our Multicultural Neighbours. She appealed to us to help the Police in making Auckland safer. She had 1,800 Neighbourhood Watch groups in her patch.
It was settled that our Exhibition at Aotea Centre would be from 6th-12th April with the day before for setting up and the last day for clearing up. Our theme would be ‘Music, Masks and Dance.” Mr Heval Hylan announced a Kurdish- NZ Cultural Society evening was planned at the beginning of November. Our speaker was our new Japanese member Mrs Yuki Roberts who talked of her immigration from Japan and the many differences she faced in adjusting to life in New Zealand.
Gene Leckey was enthusiastic in planning a Winter Social Function in the form of a dinner-dance in west Auckland, but the response from members was so lukewarm that at the last minute, all bookings had to be cancelled.
The representatives from our Society who attend regular meetings of Asia Dynamic informed us that the the TV team was the winner of the Peace Foundation’s prestigious Media Peace Award as the best television programme in New Zealand for that year. This was a considerable achievement for the cause of promoting muticulturalism when one considers there were numerous other finalists from all major television channels in New Zealand. John Buckland attended the awards presentation at the Maidment Theatre and took photographs for our Newsletter of the successful winners, Robert Boyd-Bell ETV Director, Robin Kingsley-Smith Producer, Dianne Dean researcher, and popular presenters Melissa Lee, Bharat Jamnadas and Eric Cheung. We were very pleased for their success as the Asia Dynamic team had always shown interest in our work and supported us at different venues. They have done great work to foster multicultural understanding in this country.
John Buckland had been working on the Society’s next book publication based on migrant studies. He invited one member from each of our cultural groups to write their personal account of being a migrant or refugee to New Zealand The response was very pleasing with twelve different cultural groups offering themselves or their members to become involved. It was a slow and sometimes stressful task editing all the material submitted, especially after John’s car was stolen with valuable material lost at an early stage in the project.
To help make the book appealing and relevant for use in intermediate and secondary schools, he incorporated many family photographs of the contributors and added maps, line sketches and ideas for follow-up classroom activities which he knew teachers and students would find valuable.
The members approved holding a book launch at the attractively furnished reception lounge in the Auckland Public Library on 5th September. John invited us all to the launch of the new book which was titled ‘New New Zealanders: Celebrating Our Cultural Diversity’. As our Patron Mr Les Mills was unavailable, Councillor John Strevens came, and Mr Peter O’Connor represented Dr Prasad from Race Relations. Both spoke favourably about the work of our Society and our role in helping schools. It was a most impressive evening and John was congratulated on his excellent work and the most attractive and worthwhile book.We all were most impressed. Since then, the book has been through two reprintings and is on the shelves of most public libraries and in Social Studies Departments of schools throughout New Zealand.
In October, our Kurdish Society member Mr Heval Hylan anounced the publication of his book ‘Refugees and Migrants in NZ: Their Challenges’ The guest speaker for our meeting on November 3rd was Dr Haval Abdulrahman on his experiences as a migrant to NZ from Kurdistan.
Final planning took place for the second North Shore Lakeside Multicultural Festival on 16th November. John Buckland planned a lively programme incorporating some performing groups who had not been engaged by us before.The Assyrian dancers arranged by Mr George Antoon who also handled the Auckland Assyrian Society sound system were to prove specially appealing. The group which was the audience favourite was from the Goan Overseas Association. A fisherfolk dance followed by boys and girls dancing the Makarena were to prove hugely popular.
Plans for the Christmas function with the Welsh Club were arranged. The AMS decided to send a subscription to support the Auckland Community TV. John had been invited as a guest speaker to a conference of the Auckland Community Television Society at the Auckland Regional Council conference centre. In describing the work of our Society, he offered a number of suggestions to assist their members toward their goal of gaining authority for ethnic television programmes.
Unfortunately, when November 16th came, it rained for the Lakeside concert, but we carried on, moving into the cafe next door to the Amphitheatre, which became crammed wall-to-wall with spectators. Our Japanese member Yuki Roberts danced in a
kimono, the North Shore Taiwanese choir was impressive, Welsh folk dancers swung happily in the limited floor space, Amira Brock’s stunning Spanish dancers and Sandy Xavier’s Eastern dancers got the audience foot-tapping, and Tamil and Bangladeshi dancers all played their part. It was informal, lively, appealing and full of fun for all involved. Thuten Kesang as compere maintained his usual cheerful manner and enthusiasm. The cafe proprietor, though losing all her seating accommodation for customers, had a very busy day pouring coffees, teas and serving up tasty foods. The North Shore City Community Grant grant was allocated to pay towards the performers’ travel expenses.
Reports on the Indian Diwali Festival in October, the Korean Day in November followed by their classical concert at the Bruce Mason Theatre on the North Shore were photographed and reported on in our Newsletters. Mrs Kyung Sook Wilson launched her
book ‘Kiwi: but I am Still a Korean Woman’ at the Centra Hotel. Because it was written
in Korean, we could not read it. John Buckland, representing the Society, paid tribute to Kyung Sook for her initiative in writing her book. She was one of the first Korean migrants to New Zealand 17 years before. Her marriage to Roy with four fine children and her readiness to assist whenever asked on any matters concerning Koreans were of great value to our Society. Kyung Sook thanked Ataur Rahman, John and myself for attending.
The Auckland Museum invited us to an evening function to view the opening of the new Children’s Discovery Centre. The community liaison officer, Ms Katrina Stamp said the area was being expanded to incorporate many aspects of artifacts and exhibits from many of our cultures, such as musical instruments, masks, costumes, headgear, toys, arts, crafts, tools and medical equipment. Many of the displays would involve hands-on experience for school pupils visiting the Centre. She said she hoped the Society would find ways of taking part with the Museum in this setting rather than pursuing its big exhibitions which were no longer possible.
Another event in October was a one-day cruise on a sailing ship for the many people in Auckland who had contributed during the year to the Asia Dynamic television programme. A number of members of our Society who had met at the Asia Vision Office during the year to review programmes and hear of forthcoming ones greatly enjoyed their experience on the fully rigged Dutch sailing ship, the “Oosterschelde”. Those who sailed abroad thanked the hosts Robin Kingsley-Smith and his team for their great work. In our Newsletter, we quoted Dr Rajen Prasad who said “The Asia Dynamic programme is so well made, it should be screened on television every night of the week.”
The year ended with a Christmas gathering at the Welsh Club, and a professional photograph was taken recording the AMS membership. This evening was a joyous one in which Derek Williams arranged for the Welsh to entertain and then he included the
children present in popular Welsh folk dances. The Vietnamese children performed in their national costumes. A young Sri Lankan lad excelled in dancing with vigour and agility. The Assyrian adult dancers performed wearing ornate costumes. It was the best evening together for a long time.
Looking back, 1997 was one of our most successful years. Excellent leadership was provided by our Bangladesh representative, Mr Ataur Rahman taking on his second term. As Chairperson, he was specially constructive and harmonious in handling our affairs and helped us achieve a great deal to further our goal of uniting and celebrating our cultural diversity.
Our first meeting for 1998 was held on 2nd February. A letter from the Secretary to Urania Peita was read to the meeting:
12th January 1998
Mrs Urania Peita
Auckland Multicultural Society Inc
Kia ora, Urania
It is with regret that I wish to state my intention to retire from the Auckland Multicultural Society and pass on my roles as Secretary-Co-ordinator as from the end of February 1998.This decision has been reached after very careful consideration over the last few months y myself, my wife Brenda and our family with whom I need to spend more time in the remaining few years of my life.
I have been a member of the Society for 17 years with one short term as President and 11 years as Secretary. Although I retired from my professional career at the age of 60 years of age, I have carried on for a further seven years endeavouring to provide service to the multi-ethnic communities of Auckland. In the 1980’s the Society was a small organization with a stable membership and a reasonable workload for its executive members. However, over the last 6-7 years in particular, the membership has trebled and owing to a deliberate policy of increasing the Societys public profile, the workload has more than doubled. This is immediately evident when comparing the size of the slim folders of records of the 1980’s with the jumbo files of records in the 1990’s.
For the last three years I made formal representations to our Committee for relief from the workload, asking other members to take on particular tasks to ease the personal pressures. Only minor changes occurred, but I am deeply grateful to Donna McKenzie as Minutes Secretary and to Thuten Kesang and Arthur Loo for valuable assistance given. However, the main workload of co-ordinating major events, editing, marketing and handling of sales of books NZ-wide, applications for grants, letters of reference for members and societies, Newsletter editing and attendance to support many different Association functions have proved a major burden on myself. I cannot any longer sustain such pressures and the associated stress. The year 1997 was most demanding in a decade of work for the Society and has affected my heart to such an extent that I have been advised by my doctor to set aside some of my major responsibilities. I am also mindful of my wife Brenda’s health with a rare blood condition affected by stress.
I believe I have given my best to the Society and for longer than necessary, my family says. Burn-out is a common factor in today’s business world and I too have experienced this throughout the last year. I have had to set many domestic and family tasks aside and now need to devote my remaining time to assisting younger family members.
The following duties undertaken will be wound up and the necessary records and
equipment returned in one month from the date of this meeting for the Society to re-allocate to my successor(s).
1. Computer and Canon Inkjet Printer valued at $2,664 funded by NZ Lottery Board
and Xerox Copier. The computer files contain all records on hard disk readily
accessible to the next Secretary.
2. Answerphone-Fax Machine funded by Lottery Board to be returned in near-new
3. Unsold books returned as soon as outstanding or overdue accounts are settled
during January and February. Reminder letters to about 40 schools to which books
were sent on a Sale or Return basis will be pursued immediately the school year
5. Society banner and large wooden logo and two large display screens owned by the
Society which have been stored at my home.
6. Library of Videotapes.
7. All files of the Society held in folders apart from those lost between 1981-84 to be
passed to next Secretary.
May I conclude by saying that it has been an honour to serve the Society under the guidance of our founder, Catherine Caughey and many fine Presidents and Treasurers over so many years, including yourself Urania. My retirement will provide opportunity for a successor with new ideas, more energy and new skills to carry on the Society’s work. I thank you all for your loyalty and support over the years. I wish one and all in our membership, whom Brenda and I will always regard with great affection, every happiness, good health and success in the future.
Me nga mihi aroha no reira noho mai ra.
We were all deeply shocked to hear this news. We knew how John was tired and wanted relief from the secretarial duties but his value to the Society as the author of so many books was irreplaceable. We never imagined that he would retire.
As it turned out, he has continued as Editor of the Societys Newsletter, attending functions to report on events and taking photographs at his own expense. He has also agreed to continue handling the marketing of the Societys publications New Zealand-wide and has worked on the planning committee for our last two Lakeside Festivals. In the months since, his health deteriorated further involving ambulance call-outs, admission to coronary care four times over three months and persistent stress-related shingles. When he is in better health, we are still hoping he will assist us with producing more books for schools, as part of our work is for educational publishing.
The committee at our February meeting discussed plans for our Exhibition at the Aotea Centre to be titled Music, Masks and Dance We learned that they had booked us in over Easter in April, so we had to explain again that this was not term-time for schools and so would not fulfill our aim of involving schools in visiting the exhibition.
A later date was being considered.
At the February meeting there were two guest speakers. The first, Dr Haval Atroushi from Iraq said he knew nothing of New Zealand before he came, but was informed he would have no trouble getting employment. Both he and his wife are qualified dentists. They with their children had been in New Zealand for two years and were having a hard financial struggle taking exams before they are permitted to practise.
The second speaker, Will Ilolahia advised members of Waitangi Day celebrations at St Matthews in the City and John Buckland would be one of three people to receive the 1998 Aotearoa Award for their contribution towards promoting cultural understanding and celebration in New Zealand. The occasion would be filmed by Triangle TV. This happened to be Johns last meeting as Secretary. As it turned out.. he has continued as editor of the societys Newsletter, attending some functions to report and take photos. He has also continued to handle the marketing of the societys books New Zealand-wide and helps with the planning and running of our Lakeside Festivals.
The presentation of the awards were made by Mr Peter OConnor, Auckland manager of the Race Relations Office on behalf of Dr Rajen Prasad during the church service.The second speaker was Barbara Kent, recently appointed International Visitor Co-ordinator at the Auckland Institute of Technology. The Race Relations Office which sponsored the award also made presentations to Mr John Tamihere, Director of the Waipereira Trust in Waitemata City (later elected as an MP with a large majority) and to Leone Breznahan, co-ordinator of Auckland Community Radio. The recipients each received a certificate and a manaia or Maori stone pendant intricately engraved with koru or fern-leaf motifs.
Mr Duncan Ingram was welcomed as the new Secretary at the March meeting. New Zealand had changed to four terms for schools, so our planned Aotea Exhibition for April would be in school holidays. We changed the date to October. It was suggested to shorten our meetings from the heavy load of correspondence that the Executive should meet at 7pm to sift through the essential items. It was agreed that we should invest in a Box Number for the Society. The Auckland City Council offered the Society library storage space for the Societys archives.
At the April meeting, Mr Thuraisundaram moved that the AGM be moved to May. A letter from John Buckland suggested that Neville Kay take over his position as British/New Zealander. One of our loyal members, Mr George Antoon from the Assyrian Society and qualified as a surgeon in Iraq, left with his family to find work in Australia.
A small committee was formed to give John a farewell party on May 4th after the AGM. A plaque would be presented Arthur Loo suggested that 1998 should have cultural talks entitled Food for the Feast.
At the annual Remembrance Day for Tibetans on March 10th, Thuten Kesang read a message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama seeking a peaceful solution to the occupation of their homeland by Chinese troops following which 1.2 million Tibetans lost their lives.
At our meeting there was general business and planning for Johns farewell function.
Derek Williams said he could arrange for a presentation plate with our logo on it. I offered to send out invitations and to search for a suitable mount for the plate. Ataur Rahman would act as master of ceremonies at the Welsh Clubrooms at Ellerslie.It was also suggested that John be given a visitors book as a souvenir with messages from members.
The Bangladeshi Fair and Cultural Day organized mainly by the communitys womenfolk at the Mt Roskill Memorial Hall was a resounding success. Mr Ataur Rahman who helped found the Bangladesh-NZ Friendship Society said there were, at the beginning, only a few cultural performers confident enough to appear on stage. Since then, through encouragement by the Auckland Multicultural Society to arrange performers for our concerts, more and more parents and teachers had come forward. Today, Ataur said, there were scores of singers, dancers and musicians who have learned the creative performing skills of their homeland. Many of these appeared on stage at the Bangladeshi Fair. John Buckland, who had agreed to carry on as editor of the Societys Newsletter in his retirement, attended both these functions to gather material and to take photographs for the August issue.
The AGM was held at the Welsh Club at Ellerslie on 4th May.Urania Peita presented a very good President’s Report. She congratulated our new Secretary on the excellent work he was doing and how quickly he had settled in. Elections were held.Urania was elected as President for a second term, Thuten Kesang and Marie Dzung Burns, Vice-Presidents, Ghazi Dassouki, Treasurer and Duncan Ingram, Secretary.
A retirement party for John followed the meeting. Invitations had been sent to leaders of a number of community organisations and to all past presidents of the Society. We were delighted so many responded. These invitations included Mayor Les Mills and Mayoress Colleen Mills, the Race Relations Conciliator, Presidents of the Auckland Ethnic Council and Refugee Council, PPSEAWA, Asia Dynamic producer Robin Kingsley-Smith, Ann Knox (Community Police) and Donna McKenzie.
John was made a Life Member of the Society. This certificate was presented by a past President Mr Thuten Kesang, who has worked closely with him as his publisher.The current President, Urania Peita presented John with a plate which featured the design of the AMS logo. Cultural performers danced to entertain John and Brenda, followed by an ethnic supper. All the guests were invited to sign a visitors book which was presented to them both at the end of the evening.
Thuten Kesang addressed the function:
John Buckland has been a great source of inspiration to me, with his compassionate way of looking at things and always coming up with good advice. We have worked together on many educational materials for the Auckland Multicultural Society and John always put a lot of time and energy into these
publications. which resulted in the people of New Zealand understanding the multicultural society we live in.
During Johns time with the Auckland Multicultural Society he helped many societies set up their organizations and today many of the ethnic groups have John to thank for this. I would like to take this opportunity to thank John personally for his interest in the Tibetan issue. Whenever I ring him, he is willing to give his advice and help. Thank you John. Tashi delek to you and Brenda.
Ataur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh -New Zealand Friendship Society spoke next:
John, thank you for all your contributions, not only to the Auckland Multicultural Society, but also to so many communities. Thank you for your friendship and support for the Bangladeshi community. Best wishes to you and Brenda.
I was then asked to pay tribute to him on the occasion of his retirement. Here are some excerpts:
Dear John – what a shock it was to me to learn of your retirement. I have known over the last three years of your wish to resign as Secretary, as you have indicated this at each AGM when elections took place. You have listed for your replacement the duties that you have performed as Secretary as 129 and the additional tasks beyond normal secretarial duties as another 2 – altogether a total of 30 hours per
week throughout the year.
As a voluntary worker this is tremendous. You have so unselfishly dedicated your life to our Society and we are truly thankful. As the last speaker, I will heartily endorse the previous speakers who have stolen my thoughts and words in thanking you and showing their admiration for all that you have achieved on behalf of the Society.
From the time in 1979 which was the International Year of the Child, a small group of people all worked extremely hard. We felt we could build understanding through education, I was introduced to John Buckland at North Shore Teachers College. He seemed very interested and keen to help. He filed an application on our behalf to the International Year of the Child Telethon for funding. Eventually we received $5,000 to be spent for educational purposes. This is how our finances commenced.
We invited John to become a member and our adviser in 1980. He spoke to us and suggested that we each share our cultural traditions. As we talked to one another of these, John would compile books to be used in schools. This was his skill and gift to our Society. At the AGM in 1988 he was elected as Secretary and remained in this role except for four months when he stepped in as President.
We hope that after a good rest, he might consider returning as our author for our educational publications. I wish him and Brenda good health. No words are sufficient to describe our gratitude for his selfless dedication.
In thanking everyone for the gifts, John said he was excited and overwhelmed by being able to meet so many old friends again. Both he and Brenda were very appreciative of the kind words spoken and for the farewell function.
To conclude the evening, the Society then arranged an ethnic meal for all of us. Amongst the important guests were our past presidents and Dr Rajen Prasad, Race Relations Conciliator. After the meal there was excellent entertainment given by the Maori, Bangladeshi and Chinese communities.
June brought great news that our member Mrs Marie Dzung Burns had been awarded a Queens Birthday Honour as co-ordinator of the Vietnamese Child and Family Protection Association. She has worked for many years assisting needy community members, advising on budgeting, accommodation, loans and even assisting as an interpreter in the legal system. She is now a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to the Vietnamese community over the last 23 years.
John Buckland had researched her background since 1958. She was awarded a Colombo Plan scholarship to travel to New Zealand to extend her studies after leaving Saigon University. He was so impressed with what he learned that he prepared documentation which he sent to the Prime Minister, recommending Marie for a royal honour. Marie had always supported our Society with performers for our events. With her colleague, Mr Van Su Vu, they contributed valuable material on Vietnamese child-rearing practices and refugee stories. We all heartily congratulated her for the honour she had received as an outstanding Vietnamese New Zealander.
To share in Maries celebration the Vietnamese community turned on a magnificent reception at the Vietnamese Centre in Otahuhu. Mr Les Mills, the Mayor of Auckland and several of our members attended and there were several speeches of congratulation. We all enjoyed a luncheon, including Vietnamese food. The children of the refugees whom Marie and her supporters help teach music, dance and the Vietnamese language entertained us with their national dances. What a happy and festive occasion it was!
At our July meeting, a letter was read announcing that our member Mrs Anoma de Silva had founded a Waitakere Multicultural Society at Henderson. We were delighted and wished her well, hoping that they would exchange minutes and information with us. Derek Williams reported to our meeting on the excellent Waitakere inaugural multicultural function at which I was also present. They based their Constitution very strongly on our own. Next, we received notification from the Aotea Centre that we could not hold our planned Exhibition in July because it would coincide with the brilliant musical show River Dance. This was indeed a blow, so it was necessary to reschedule to 1999.
At the August meeting the Waitakere Multicultural Society advised that the first meeting would be held that month and that we would receive invitations. Their President was Mahendra Diri, Vice-President, Mr Titus de Silva and Secretary Mary Ama. The guest speaker at our meeting was Theresa Pharo, Projects Adviser with the NZ Employment Service. She stated that unemployment was growing in New Zealand and this was making it all the harder for new immigrants to find occupations. At the meeting, Derek Williams introduced Jack Grant-Mackie to represent him as the Welsh Society member as he was going overseas for a years teaching. . The Secretary advised that the Auckland City Promotions would be organising the Asia 2000 Festival next March 1999.
Ann Baxter, one of the planning members for the 1999 Lakeside Multicultural Festival, who was working with our Secretary Duncan Ingram, Ataur Rahman, Thuten Kesang and John Buckland reported that everything was on track for the annual Pumphouse event, with a full programme of performers keen to take part. Council funding from a Community Grant would assist performers with their travel expenses.
Barbara Strong-McKinnon, senior events organizer for the Auckland City Council attended our meeting. She informed us of an earlier meeting of ethnic groups which had met to discuss planning for the 1999 Asia 2000 Festival in Auckland. Our members were disappointed our Society had not been informed of the meeting, especially when we were so fully involved with the last festival. She then described the programme which would include a parade up Queen Street, plays, performances and other exhibitions. A member asked whether all the funds to be allocated and planning was only for Asian groups and members were told this was so. A sub-committee was formed consisting of Marie Burns and Van Su Vu, Duncan Ingram, Thuten Kesang and Thurai Thuraisundaram.
Our generous hosts, the Welsh Society offered their Ellerslie clubrooms for our final meeting for 1998 to be followed by the Christmas social. I received a distressing letter from the Edge, no longer the Aotea Centre, giving us a date of August 1999 for our Exhibition, but there was now a change of policy and we would have to pay for use of the space and equipment needed. It was decided that we write and try to renegotiate the original agreement.
The highly enjoyable Welsh Christmas function followed with Derek Williams arranging some Welsh folk dancing. Our affable host soon had many of our diverse ethnic groups out on the floor trying out Welsh country dances. He was an excellent instructor and compere for the evening. Arthur Loo organized some delicious Chinese dishes for our dinner to ease pressure on our Welsh hosts. It was a very happy evening enjoyed by all.
The first meeting was held on 8th February 1999.There was a useful discussion on the need for the reprinting of two books:- Multicultural Festivals and Multicultural Families: Child Rearing Practices. Even though retired, John Buckland had agreed to continue with the handling of book orders, sales and banking of cheques. The reprintings were approved.
After the Correspondence, the Lakeside Multicultural Festival was discussed. Two performing groups, had just not turned up. Yet the time was skillfully filled by Duncan Ingram shuffling the order of performers.The event was voted a success. Thanks were given to Thuten for being such an excellent compere. Duncan Ingram and John Buckland also worked hard. It was decided that the next event would take place on Sunday 27th February 2000. Discussion on our Exhibition at the Edge, the new name for Aotea Centre planned for 16-24th of August was postponed until the March meeting. The Chinese New Year was celebrated on February 16th (The Year of the Rabbit). The Welsh Choir was to perform on 17th February with the Morrison Orpheus Choir.
At the meeting on March 1st after correspondence with the Edge, it was decided to cancel the Exhibition due to costs involved. I was hoping we might find another venue.
Thurai Thuraisundaram suggested we contact the City Council to find out their plans for the Millenium. As he is employed by the City Council he was appointed the task of doing this for us.
The Irish Society had a grand parade down Queen Street, with both Kath Doran and a former Irish member, Mrs Nell Delaney prominently waving to the crowds from their seats in a vintage vehicle. Their celebrations continued all day in Aotea Square with ballad singers, Irish pipers, dancers from tiny tots to teenagers, craft and food stalls. On the same day, the Asia 2000 Foundation organizers turned on great displays in Aotea Square and in Elliot Street and adjoining carpark. The title of the event was ‘Unity in Diversity’ A number of our groups took part.
The April meeting was short. Thurai reported that the City Council had the Thursday before had a meeting of ethnic groups to discuss the City’s plans for the Millenium,and that we had not been invited. It was discovered that they were contacting various ethnic groups direct, and by-passing us. Barbara Strong-McKinnon requested that our Society members meet her. It was decided to write to Jill Pearce of Wellington first. A request for members to provide photos for our Millenium Calendar was given.
The idea for the Millenium Calendar was promoted by John Buckland the year before. It was to be our contribution to the celebration of the turning of the century. Thuten Kesang agreed to investigate costs, but first arranged for John to prepare a layout,drawing examples from the hundreds of photographs he had taken of multicultural events over the previous ten years.
Thuten presented this layout for the meeting which decided to seek funding support from three City Councils in Auckland. Surprisingly, Auckland City Council declined but North Shore City Council immediately offered $300 which was gratefully received. The Millenium Calendar included the words of greeting used by different cultures and was well received by schools and community groups to which it was sent.
Thuten Kesang’s wife Gwen, also a member arranged for one of the calendars to be included in a special Time Capsule placed in front of the Birkenhead War Memorial Monument outside the local Public Library. She and John attended the short ceremony at which North Shore Mayor George Wood said the time capsule would be lifted in 100 years in 2100 to reveal what people regarded as typical of our lives in the year 2000. For years, Gwen has done sterling work transferring the computer layouts for the Newsletter prepared by John into final form for printing. All this work by Gwen and Thuten, done at just the cost of materials for Kesang Enterprises deserves the highest commendation.
At our AGM on 3rd May, Duncan Ingram announced that he could no longer be our Secretary. This was great loss as he had picked up the work quickly and knew all our names which was a feat by itself! He was a well qualified Secretary and his work was most professional. Alas, some members thought that he would take on all the roles John Buckland had fulfilled. He joined many of our activities, but could do no more. There had been a call for him to return to his previous work. He is still our friend and helps with the Pumphouse Festival. Ghazi Dassouki also wished to retire. He had been our excellent Treasurer for many years.We thanked them both for their great service.
Urania Peita retired as President. In her report she stated that there were 42 members, four associate members and four Friends of the Society. The membership represents 33 ethnic groups.
The election of officers took place:-
President Thuten Kesang, Tibetan
1st Vice President Ramubhai Patel, Indian
2nd Vice President Marie Sabanayagam, Tamil
Secretary Heval Heylan, Kurd.
Treasurer Harry Manama, Niuean
The guest speaker was Shona Hammond Boys. She talked on her work as the national President of Arts for Cultural Communities. She worked to create the first Children’s Art House at Mairangi Bay on the North Shore Since then she has arranged the opening of at least ten Art Houses catering for the creative needs of children. These include children and teenagers of many different ethnic groups who respond well to work beyond what can be provided in their own schools. Some of her students have won national and international awards. There is a waiting lists for acceptance to the art programmes using well qualified teachers. Shona said she would like to see 100 Children’s Art Houses set up. The teachers work together to encourage children to bring about a Culture of Peace in their own lives, their families and communities. She spoke about the setting up of Art Houses at a conference in Singapore and the idea may catch on internationally.
It was moved by our new President Thuten, that we meet every other month as a trial until the end of the year. We all had an invitation from Kyung Sook Wilson on behalf of the Korean Community to a concert by the Southern Cross Boys and Girls Choir of Korean Children at the Auckland Town Hall on May 15th. It was very beautiful and inspiring concert.
The President had second thoughts about our meetings, and decided to continue on a monthly basis. A meeting was held on June 14th. Our new secretary, Heval Hylan announced that he had changed our Box Number. Heval suggested we might find another meeting place, but the majority preferred to remain where we are. He also appealed for more action and participation from each member by offering their time and energy. He was facing the same frustration experienced by our former Secretaries. We accepted that everyone is busy, but there was a need for members to respond to calls for assistance and take on a little more.
As a means of finding out what each member could offer and trying to get a commitment from them to take on particular tasks, he sent out forms for each to write their talents and what they could offer. The guest speaker was Ineke Crezee. She talked to the meeting about Health and Culture.
A meeting was held on the 5th July. The guest speaker was Robin Kingsley-Smith producer of the Ed TV series Asia Dynamic. He stated that the programme had been changed from Sunday to Saturday mornings. He believed that the programme should be viewed by many more people, and that the time-slot allocated by TVNZ was disappointing. He said he was keen to have our ideas for improving the programme and topics which could be covered. Robin invited us to a meeting on 7th July to discuss these issues. The former committee which had met regularly with Robin had given up their support.
At the 2nd August Meeting., the guest speaker was Dr Paul McKechnie from the University of Auckland. He spoke about the different cultures at the University.
On 6th September there was a good attendance. The guest speaker was Pam Glaser, organizer of the Santa Parade to be held on November 28th. She wanted people of all cultures to come and march in their national costumes. There would also be an America’s Cup Parade on 15th of October, and she wished the same for this. The second visitor was Lucinda Blackley asking whether we would provide performers and displays for the opening of the refurbished Auckland Museum on 18th March 2000. After discussion, I told her that what we would really like instead would be an opportunity to
set up an exhibition. She was new on the Museum staff, and knew nothing of background
history! She said she would return and discuss the matter. This was the last we heard of anything from the Museum.
On Monday 4th October, 15 members attended. We were concerned that our Treasurer Harry Manama was still in hospital and felt that he should asked to be replaced. He was not presenting us with a full financial report, and only a few total amounts. The guest speaker for the evening was Theresa Dunworth on International Law and different cultures. International law is about building bridges between cultures, and interaction between them. It also gives us a framework to deal with conflicts.
Angela Weir from the UN Association spoke about a festival going to be held on 24th October 1999 in the afternoon, and to please contact her by phone if any groups were willing to contribute. Melissa Noble, co-ordinator for the North Shore Sport Harbour Funfest 2000 described how she was very anxious to involve multicultural groups and wished to get performers from schools.
Mrs Anne Kiddle announced her retirement as representative of the Pan Pacific Association. and would be replaced by Mrs Ellen Richardson. Thuten Kesang reported on Millenium Calendar for the year 2000 showing colourful photos of representatives of many cultures.
Our last planned meeting for 1999 never took place, but it turned into a very happy end of year gathering and party attended mainly by our most loyal members.We gathered at our President’s home in Birkenhead, North Shore City. It was a very attractive house full of many Tibetan artefacts and beautiful rugs made in Tibet. We were privileged to be shown the Prayer Room with the candle burning for PEACE IN TIBET. A wonderful photograph showing Thuten and Gwen with His Holiness the Dalai Lama graced the lounge.
We each took a plate of our ethnic food and the Kesangs provided a traditional meat dish and large bowls of strawberries and cream. The evening was a very happy one, and we had the leisure to move around or relax to talk with each other, and so get to know one another on a social occasion. We all felt that this type of gathering was very valuable and it was a fine way to end 1999.
This is the end of my account of our Society. I shall be retiring soon and hope that some younger person will replace me.
Being a Life Member means that I may attend meetings and enjoy functions whenever I choose. The Auckland Multicultural Society will always be close to my heart.
A Selection of Messages from Society Presidents
Mr Cecil Lochan JP:
The Auckland Multicultural Society was the pioneer organisation in the promotion of multicultural diversity. This was essential because of the fact that Auckland was becoming increasingly muliticultural and society had to be educated on the customs, cultures and values of various ethnic peoples in order to bring about better understanding and to live together in harmony. This cause was, and still is of great appeal to me and I dedicated my efforts thereto I was elected Chairperson of the Society in the year 1985 and served two terms till the year 1987. During my terms as Chairperson, the Society carried out several projects to promote its aims and objectives. We held a street festival in Karangahape Road in association with the Race Relations Office and the K.Road Businessmen’s Association. Similar festivals were subsequently conducted at the Aotea Square where ethnic food and traditional dances were the main feature. The public thronged both these activities.
Multicultural exhibitions of arts, artifacts and cultural displays were held on two occasions at the Auckland War Memorial Museum where, apart from the general public, thousands of school children of the future generation visited and learned about other cultures and broadened their faculties.
Our members were also invited to Auckland College of Education to talk to trainee teachers about the customs and cultures of various ethnic peoples. Our Society was requested to present papers on various aspects of multiculturalism at a National Conference of Social Studies Teachers in Wellington. The National Conference of ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages)was also held at Wellington and Auckland where John Buckland and I took part and presented our papers. Subsequently, the Open Polytechnic College requested to use our papers for teaching purposes. Various other smaller projects were carried out over this period.
The impact that our education programmes had on the general public was an increase in the appreciation and understanding of customs, cultures and values of other ethnic peoples which resulted in tolerance, harmonious and cohesive coexistence in this multicultural city. All members of the Society gave of their service freely and with altruism.
The satisfaction I gained from being member and Chairperson during my terms was to see people of various ethnic groups living together happily and the contribution that the Multicultural Society has made to the wellbeing of Auckland and the country as a whole.
Finally, I wish to pay tribute to the founder of the Auckland Multicultural Society, Mrs Catherine Caughey MBE who has been a tower of strength and the driving force behind the Society. I wish the Society all the best in the future
Mrs Priscilla Maher
I enjoyed the five years of involvement with the Auckland Multicultural Society. We, the members, worked and played in a very friendly and harmonious atmosphere. We participated in a variety of activities such as food-stalls in Albert Park and exhibitions in the Auckland War Memorial Museum to promote the the diversities of multiculturalism in our society. The highlights to me had to be in the year when I was President (1989). We celebrated our Tenth Birthday with a party in the Welsh Club in Newton and the radio programme we contributed to in the pioneering days of Access Radio.
Mr Jagdish Natali JP
It was indeed a great honour and privilege to serve and be associated with the Auckland Multicultural Society. I was indeed privileged to represent the Auckland Indian Association in the Society for six years (1984-90) and serve as Chairman of the Society for one year (1986). During my service with the Society, Catherine Caughey was my great mentor and I met and made friends with a lot of good people.
During my association with the Society, my life was enriched with the cultural habits and lifestyles of members of different ethnic groups. Living in one of the biggest multicultural cities in this country, it is important that we learn how the other ethnic group people live. It is also important that we share and learn the culture of other ethnic groups which enable us to understand and appreciate their lifestyles and ways of living.
We also need to show care and love towards our other fellow beings. The Multicultural Society provides the forum where different ethnic groups meet once a month to share and exchange these qualities of life.
It has certainly been my great pleasure to be part of the AMS and my best wishes to the Society and its members.
Mr S.K. Thuraisundaram JP
Kia ora, Vannakkam, Greetings to all. It is with great pleasure I present this report being a long-standing member and past President.
Biculturalism leads the way to Multiculturalism. Policies such as assimilation and integration denied the right of ethnic groups to retain their own culture ignored the very real barriers they faced. (Jakubowicz:7). As Jakubowicz goes on to say, assimilation failed to integrate minority groups into a unified society. By the mid 1970’s, this obvious fact combined with the politicization of ethnicity encouraged New Zealand, along with other societies, to see multiculturalism as an option.
Multiculturalism was defined in terms of the understanding and acknowledgement of the equality of values and respect for cultural difference. The first characteristic is the presence of diverse cultures and the acceptance and the celebration of these ethnicities. Multiculturalism is a soft option politically. It emphasises the plurality and diversity of cultures and often emphasises the need for ‘mutual tolerance’.
There were some memorable events during my tenure as President in 1990, viz:
* Governor General Sir Paul Reeves as our chief guest to open the exhibition at the
Auckland War Memorial Museum and our Patron and then Mayor of Auckland Dame
Catherine Tizard designate to succeed as Governor General on the same platform.
* The display of the valuable Commonwealth Quilt at the exhibition.
* The 1990 Declaration of Good News Week on 26 June where a wonderful message
of peace was sent.
The above are landmarks in the history of the Society.
I wish the Auckland Multicultural Society every success in the future and to grow in numbers from strength to strength.
Mr Arthur Loo
I look back upon my term as President of the Society with some satisfaction. Not because of any achievements on my part but because I was able to associate with a large number of diverse and interesting people. It gave me an insight into all their different cultures and enabled me to appreciate the richness we have in diversity. It also made me realise that although we are all different, we have much in common in the sense that there are common threads that seem to run through all our cultures.
I doubt if anywhere else in the world we would have such a mixture of people meeting informally for the express purpose of appreciating each other’s culture. In some instances, if the people were still in their homelands, they might be opposed to each other and the opportunity to have such a cultural exchange would not occur. I was enriched by the experience.
Mr Walter Duckstein
As President during the year 1994-95, I valued the opportunity to help guide the work of the Society. I would like to commend Catherine Caughey for her time and energy given to this record of the Society and wish all members the very best for the future.
Mr Nathan Saminathan JP
I am greatly privileged to add a note to your selfless task of bringing various cultures and ethnic backgrounds under one roof. As the founder of the Society, you (Catherine Caughey) gave your time and effort without any reservation. As you all know, each and everyone of us is a passing cloud in this univserse. Most of us will leave this place without a trace, but then there will be some like you who will leave a mark behind. You are one of those who had a vision for the future generation.
I had the privilege of being the President of the Society in the years 1995-96. We had organised various cultural functions in the year and notably the Museum cultural bonanza, a display of various stands that really reflected the true Auckland cultural diversity. The programme was promoted particularly to various schools in the Auckland region. I have been in New Zealand for more than 21 years. In those days we did not see many different races and most of them kept to themselves. But then new immigration policies opened the ways for new immigrants other than our traditional source. These migrants brought their cultures, which in turn enriched New Zealand society.
The universe we live in is so small but the people of the world are so rich in cultures and traditions. We are so privileged to have them all here in the land of far away. The Multicultural Society is just bringing the people of all nations under one roof to share their cultures and traditions. This would not have been possible without your guidance and farsightedness.
I wish you well for the future cultural enrichment of the Society.
Mr Ataur Rahman Member Order of NZ
As a President of the Auckland Multicultural Society it was an honour and a privilege to work with and lead a fine group of men and women – individuals and ethnic community representatives – to fulfil the aims of our Society. I particularly enjoyed the educational, cultural and social aims of our Society.
The support from our members and the interaction amongst the communities was enjoyable and appreciated. It is a credit the the AMS to get so many people of different races, colour, creeds, religious and polit bical beliefs to sit side by side in one room and share their views in a civilised way. As founder of the Bangladesh Community in Auckland, I enjoyed representing my ethnic community and to share my culture with members of the Multicultural Society.
Mr. Thuten Kesang
It is indeed a pleasure for me to a say few words as a past President of Auckland Multicultural Society when our founder member Mrs. Catherine Caughey is writing the History of the Auckland Multicultural Society.
For me representing a very small community of Tibetans living in Auckland, it is indeed an honour to be part of the Society and it was a privi1ege to serve the Society as a President during 1993-1994 year and again in 1999- 2000. It was good to work with people like Mrs. Catherine Caughey and John Buckland, who devoted so much of their spare time, encouraging the Multicultural Community to share each other’s cultural diversity.
During my time as President, we managed to convince New Zealand on Air to fund community TV. The result was Asia Dynamic and it has been well received by all New Zealanders. Auckland Multicultural Society hosted the first Asia 2000 Festival in the Oriental Market and after that success, the Government established Asia 2000 Foundation and today they invite lot of overseas artist to perform at Asia 2000 Festival. Both the above two organisations are doing very well today, because the Auckland Multicultural Society had sown a good seed.
I take this opportunity to thank all those people who have devoted so much of their spare time to help to build the Auckland Multicultural Society and hope that you all will continue to be part of the organisation which promotes cultural understanding between our Multicultural Community of Auckland.
We thank Mrs. Catherine Caughey for recording the Society’s History and Mr. John Buckland for spending so much time putting it together and editing it.
I take this opportunity to thank all the past Presidents and the Committee members for their support for the Society, without whose commitment this book would not be written.