Auckland. My hometown, my place of birth, my haven.
Deemed one of the most multicultural cities in the world, more than a third of its citizens were born overseas with more than 200 nationalities living here.
My grandpa who migrated to Auckland, NZ from Samoa in 1947.
Yes, the city grew too fast and traffic is still, and will continue to be a nightmare. Urban sprall is rampant and the costs of living are among the highest in the world. The gap between rich and poor is growing and issues relating to lower-socio economic environments emphasise our ‘big city problems’.
Despite these setbacks, I applaud Auckland for its ability to capitalise on its natural beauty; we are blessed to be surrounded by harbours, lakes, beaches, forests and parks. Black sand, white sand, shelly sand, you name it, we have got it.
It felt as though Auckland became ‘cool’ while we hosted the first rugby world cup in 2011. We moved out of this awkward phase where we constantly compared ourselves to our neighbouring cities in Australia and worked with our natural beauty. Underutilised areas such as Britomart, Wynyard Quarter and Victoria Park were rejuvenated and became a hotspots for food, fashion, arts and culture. We truly have great access to sports and arts events, all you need to do is access it (Eventfinder and Facebook are my best friend in that respect).
In the 34 years I have lived in Auckland, the biggest change witnessed has been the evolution of the Aucklander; we are not homogenous but are a mixed bunch who come from eclectic backgrounds. I have numerous friends who migrated to Auckland. In my work at Unitec I have dealt with students from Russia, Thailand, Solomon Islands, Iran, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Denmark, and China to name but a few. In most of the work teams I have been in, over half of the team were born out of Auckland.
Diversity is the key to Auckland’s future success and we have so much to gain through the reciprocal giving, taking and sharing of our collective talents and input. As a foodie I absolutely love I can wander through the Onehunga Night Market and sample food from regions around the world. The sheer number of public cultural celebrations including Diwali, Chinese Lantern Festival and the Pasifika Festival also suggest we are comfortable embracing who we are.
Yes I am an idealist but I can think like a realist. My wish is that TV and media does a better job in capturing diversity in a positive light and in introducing a greater range of faces on our screens. I am tired of how certain ethnic groups are emphasised in the media. I grow even more tired when media is blatantly racist and perpetuating of negative stereotypes. There is a fine line between what is seen as humour, satire or poor taste. Yes, Jonah from Tonga was an Australian TV show(!) but I found it offensive and belittling of Tongans, and other Pacific groups.
If you want to see a better example of how the media can positively represent ethnic diversity, then read this article from the Faces of Auckland series as featured on Stuff:
I am so grateful for my nana and grandpa for coming to NZ from Samoa to set up their lives in a new country. As migrants, they endured the hardships of settling in a new country but also worked hard to ensure their children (and grandchildren) would have opportunities to prosper and live happy lives. Heck, if it was not for their sacrifices, you might not be reading this blog right now.
Can diversity continue to benefit Auckland? Of course. I certainly will advocate for it.