Much could be done to make people of other cultures more comfortable in New Zealand, but the Treaty of Waitangi should still be the basis for it, a new report says.
The Our Multicultural Future report was launched in Wellington on Thursday, and is supported by Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.
It's the result of 34 workshops nationwide, and the thoughts of 581 people. The workshops were conducted by former race relations commissioner Joris de Bres and commissioned by New Zealand's 18 multicultural councils. They took place from February to June this year.
Two were held in Wanganui, organised by the Multicultural Council of Rangitikei/Whanganui. There were about 30 people at each.
The city's Multicultural Council president, Vijeshwar Prasad, said barriers between cultures were breaking down slowly as individuals met one another.
He has helped migrants settle in Wanganui, and said the district would be more attractive if it offered rates remissions to new businesses, as the Rangitikei District Council did. It was also time the Wanganui council had a one-stop shop to make things easier for investors.
"The mayor is doing marvellous work, and her employees need to support her," he said.
There was a lot of agreement across the workshops, and the report lists five areas for action.
Participants endorsed the recommendations on the Treaty of Waitangi made by the Constitutional Advisory Panel in December 2013. Some were concerned multiculturalism might overtake biculturalism. They wanted Maori rights and responsibilities under the treaty carried forward.
On a person-to-person level they said there was still discrimination, and education in schools and early childhood centres could remedy that. New Zealand's curriculum emphasises cultural diversity - but the Education Review Office has noted that aspect is not well implemented.
Participants liked the idea of a cultural mosaic rather than one dominant and many lesser cultures. They said institutions could foster diversity better by changing language policy, and they wanted more effort made to include people of many cultures in local government and school boards.
The workshops also addressed the situation of newcomers to New Zealand. They saw the need for more support for them, and said something needed to be done about the difficulties skilled migrants had in getting appropriate jobs.