Dedicated venue for migrants called for

Southland Migrant Walking Together Organisation chairwoman Himani Mishra Galbraith wants to see a...
Southland Migrant Walking Together Organisation chairwoman Himani Mishra Galbraith wants to see a dedicated venue for migrant communities in Invercargill. PHOTO: MATTHEW ROSENBERG
A call for a dedicated migrant community event space in Invercargill has been made by a group struggling to find suitable venues.

Southland Migrant Walking Together Organisation said it was getting more difficult to access places amid high demand and costs.

"If there is a place where actually the migrant community can come together and celebrate their culture, it would be really helpful," advisory board member Krunal Patel said.

"Many of the venues are getting really busy. There are so many events going around, so sometimes it is really difficult to access those venues."

Mr Patel said it would be good to have a "cultural centre" where migrant people could not only host events, but also celebrate their culture.

"Our mission is to foster integration and celebrate the cultural diversity in our community."

The comments were made at an Invercargill City Council long-term plan hearing where groups and individuals were given the opportunity to make submissions on the city’s road map for the future.

Presenting alongside Mr Patel was chairwoman Himani Mishra Galbraith, who said the past two years had seen rental prices hit levels which were out of reach for many.

Many migrant events also required an indoor-outdoor flow, she said, which had proven a challenge.

Ms Galbraith later told Local Democracy Reporting that a new space would allow for immersion, inclusion, diversity and respect.

"We need to create those spaces, we need to create those opportunities, where we can showcase that."

A tight deadline allowed for only two questions at Friday’s meeting, with mana whenua representative Pania Coote asking Mr Patel and Ms Galbraith if they had heard of the migrant group which had bought the community hall in Dacre for the purpose of hosting events.

Cr Leslie Soper wanted to clarify that the presenters were asking for a permanent, dedicated space.

Ms Galbraith said something similar to "container halls" used for SIT students would be suitable, so long as it had a kitchen, electricity and toilets.

Deputy mayor Tom Campbell, who chaired the hearing, said there was a queue of people wanting to ask questions — more than for any previous presentation.

"You’ve created a lot of interest," he said.

 - LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.