March 1, 2018

Campaign invites people to share their identities

The Gisborne Herald, March 2, 2018

An interesting and very relevant social media campaign, #myidentity, will be launched today by Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.

The campaign is the brainchild of high-profile lawyer Mai Chen, who is inviting New Zealanders to film short videos of themselves outlining their identities.

The purpose is to show that everyone has multiple identities and to hopefully break down divisive agendas that have played a role in driving major change overseas, such as the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump.

So far a number of New Zealanders, including Dame Patsy, Dame Jenny Shipley and comedian Ete Eteuati of the Naked Samoans have agreed to take part.

Mai Chen, who is the founder and chairwoman of the Superdiversity Centre for Law, Policy and Business, wants the group to be as diverse as possible.

With New Zealand steadily becoming one of the most diverse nations on Earth, such a campaign is valuable. Auckland is the fourth most diverse city in the OECD, and New Zealand is the fourth most diverse country.

The 2013 Census found there were more than 210 ethnicities in New Zealand, and 25 percent of the population were not born here.This is expected to increase in this year’s Census.

There are projections that by 2025, one in three Aucklanders will be Asian.

Many immigrants to New Zealand, particularly Asians, can point to experiences of discrimination. This includes Mai Chen, who has previously outlined many instances where she was abused or insulted.

She says New Zealand has successfully managed over many years to have numerous different ethnicities and cultures living side by side. That must continue for our economic prosperity, because social capital is fundamental to people wanting to be here.

The infusion of new New Zealanders has caused strain at times, the most recent example being a perceived impact on Auckland house price inflation which was blamed on Asian buyers, particularly Chinese.