How will the future Auckland know itself?
I'm an unfit person. I don't enjoy running very much, but I knew it was very important for me to join my fellow Aucklanders in the Run A Safe Community (RASC) event last night.
RASC was formed in response to some hideous attacks on Chinese students in my city recently. It's easy for me to think "it doesn't matter to me, I'm not a student, nor am I Chinese". But lately I'm thinking a lot about the future of this beautiful city. And we could be in trouble.
So, I felt it was important to join in, to let my Chinese friends in Auckland know that this is not an "us" and "them" situation, we are all together; if one hurts, we all hurt. I also want to let my kiwi friends know the same thing!
So even though I didn't enjoy running, I really really loved the chance to be together with good people, doing good things.
What about the future?
Auckland has become more diverse in the last 10 years than most cities in the world. We have 213 different ethnicities in this city, and people like me (New Zealand born, of European descent) are no longer in the majority.
This is rapid and unprecedented change. And it has many opportunities and dangers.
One of the biggest problems I see is actually a small one, and it might be easy to solve. That problem is that generally, we don't know much about other ethnic groups in their daily life and culture.
For example, I am part of two communities besides my own "kiwi" community, that is, the Chinese community (through my work) and the Pasifika community (through my wife).
It seems to me that these two communities don't know much about each other! (And it's nobody's fault, it is just the way things are … for now)
To a Chinese person in Auckland, sadly all they may know about Pacific people is that they live in South Auckland, and are sometimes violent or aggressive.
To a Pasifika person in South Auckland, sadly all they may know about Chinese is that they are probably rich, and keep to themselves. Also, all the shops in South Auckland are mostly owned by Chinese.
There is so much more to each culture than these negative stereotypes!
Since I am kind of a part of both of these communities, I want to help build a bridge. I will use future episodes of "My New Zealand" to do this. But for now, I want to throw open the question:
How can the future Auckland know itself?
How can we, whether we are Chinese, Kiwi, Samoan, Indian, African … etc. … how can we get a meaningful understanding of our fellow citizens?
It starts in the heart. And then, the feet follow.
Maybe the biggest thing I want to say here is, it's not easy, and it's never been done before. But living in a superdiverse city is the most exciting thing in the world. I would never trade it for the 'white bread Auckland' I grew up in. Welcome, friends! We are all going to learn from each other.