He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.
Stemming from a Māori proverb, these words remind us: “What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people”.
Indeed, the core of Multicultural Whangarei is people; those who had the vision to start the migrant centre, those who have contributed and continue to contribute to the organization, and those in the community who receive support from the many services offered by Multicultural Whangarei.
At the recent 10-year anniversary celebration of Multicultural Whangarei, kaumātua Fred Tito spoke about how it doesn’t matter where we all come from, that we are just people and we all share similarities. Multicultural Whangarei is a place where migrants and newcomers can gather together regardless of where they are from, as well as share their own unique and diverse backgrounds.
Multicultural Whangarei first began as the Whangarei Migrant Centre, formed by a group of multi-ethnic individuals from various migrant communities, towards the end of 2007. In 2008, the group became an Incorporated Society, and received its initial funding from MSD. The centre’s current location in the Municipal Building at 71 Bank St, was opened in late 2009.
The anniversary celebration was a festive evening, where countries from all over the world were represented in colourful national costumes and food delicacies. Among the many treats shared were the traditional Indian condiment raita, Italian focaccia, and Filipino noodles (known as pansit). Guests were also treated to a poi dance, performed by Alice. Of course, the night would not be complete without cake, and a few individuals were also in luck with the raffle and spot prizes.
Memories were shared by a few of the key people instrumental in starting the organization, including Ellen Altschuler, who recalled the time she initially spoke to various migrant groups years ago. Each group she met at the time had commented that “there was no place to meet” for social gatherings, or for sharing their own cultures. There was a gap in the community which needed to be filled.
Fast forward to the present, Multicultural Whangarei is thriving, and holds regular social events such as monthly social lunches, as well as informative sessions and classes, to support newcomers in their community.
Jenny Huddleston, who was also involved in the early beginnings of the organization, could not have put it better when she said, “Here’s to the next 10 years and beyond”.
Photo by Joel Arangorin
Article by Katie Hock