After two and a half years in the making, the Hastings District Council has adopted a Multicultural Strategy – the first of its kind for any council in the North Island.

Census 2018 figures showed 17.4 per cent of Hastings’ population were born overseas, and the strategy aims to ensure the district is an inclusive, welcoming community where everyone belongs.

The five-year strategy, devised by a multicultural strategy working group, seeks to celebrate multiculturalism and diversity, ensure people of all cultures have equitable access to Council services and facilities, and feel empowered to participate in council decision-making.

Actions to achieve this include, but are not limited to, developing a calendar of cultural events, creating a welcome pack with information about council services and resources for newcomers, making use of different languages in key Council communications and making council a role model for cultural diversity in the workforce.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst acknowledged the work of the working group, established in June 2018 to develop the strategy.

“Made up of elected members and community representatives, this group brought its ideas forward, and after community engagement in 2019 a draft strategy was formed.

“As a council we want to ensure our services are accessible to all and that all cultures fully understand and take part in all forms of civil participation and democracy. Our council wants the Hastings district to be a place where everybody is respected and accepted, a place where diversity is celebrated and our whole community benefits.”

Hawke’s Bay Multicultural Association diversity engagement advisor Rizwaana Latiff was involved in the development of the strategy from the start, and said the aim was to try and get the migrant community voice heard.

“It has been an honour for me to have been part of this process. This is a significant step towards Migrant Community inclusion. Thanks goes to the Hastings Council, Iwi representatives and all the community leaders that have contributed towards the document. I am looking forward to being part of the implementation as well.”

Hawke’s Bay Multicultural Association president Sukhdeep Singh also welcomed the initiative.

“This strategy is a milestone for our beautiful district as it recognises our diversity of cultures, respects our differences, values our contribution to the Hastings district, and empowers migrants to take an active part in civic duties and decisions.

The strategy can be found on the council website https://www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/assets/Document-Library/Strategies/The-Hastings-District-Mullticultural-Strategy/The-Hastings-District-Multicultural-Strategy.pdf

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