“It’s really important that we have this voice within the Christchurch City Council, and have input from different cultures, especially from an engagement perspective,” Mr Jaiswal says.
“If you want to work for the community you need to hear from the community, you need knowledge of how different communities operate, not just two or three. Christchurch is home to many diverse cultures, so we act as a conduit between these communities and the Council.”
Mr Jaiswal was elected as Chairperson of the committee last year which met every second month.
“We are composed of around 13 representatives from different ethnic backgrounds who volunteer their time. Currently there are more than 160 ethnicities in Christchurch, but we try to have representation from some of the major groups including Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Somalian, Afghani, Irish, Russian, Colombian, etc,” he says.
Mr Jaiswal himself is originally from India and came to New Zealand to study Aircraft Engineering. He met his Kiwi/French wife here, and they are now raising their daughter in Christchurch.
“I think the image of the city has improved a lot over the past 10 years. It’s been slow progress, because in a big city, things move slowly but there’s been progress, nonetheless.
“We’ve recently secured the Christchurch Netball Centre in Hagley Park which is going to be a new Multicultural Recreation and Community Centre. It’s currently set to open on 5 March 2024 and the Council just hired a Manager to run it. That’s huge progress. We will be the first city in New Zealand to have a council-operated and run, multicultural centre and in one of the most beautiful parts of the city – it’s a great achievement!” he says.
“There’s room for improvement of course, but it does show that having an inclusive environment where people’s voices are listened to has an impact. Decisions made by the Council affect the community, and they can be a powerful force for positive change.”
We are currently looking for five members of the community to join the MAG, the commitment is two hours every second month with the opportunity to provide advice based on lived experience.
You can also contact staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 941 8999 if you need any assistance.
Applications for the Multicultural Advisory Group close on Monday 14 August 2023.