Welcome to the Goethe-Institut CityScapes Blog.
From January through December 2011, these were the parameters for a playground of diverse, fascinating, vibrant tales: Responding individually to a collective impetus, a host of hand-picked young bloggers uploaded photos, texts, and multimedia. Every month, they were given a new theme. Step by step, they created a kaleidoscope of impressions, opinions, ideas and… plain fun.
This project has now ended. If you like what you see, you may want to check out the brand new CityTales Comic Blog.
Auckland is the multicultural poster-child for New Zealand. Trying to give form to this article, I spent time reading facts and figures around the ethnic make-up of Auckland. Interesting, insightful yet tedious, I didn’t want to focus on statistics
As my eyes were blurring, a friend called and invited me for a drink at a bar in one of the lanes in the CBD. Walking to meet her, I could see living proof of the statistics surrounding me in the streets. I remembered I used to walk down Queen St if I wanted to feel like I was traveling.
Recently the six cities of the Auckland region were combined to form the ‘Super City’ or Auckland Council, one administrative body. Within the entire region, the ethnic stats are : European 56.8%, Asian 8%, Maori 7.4%, Pacific islander 4.6%, mixed 9.7%, other 13.5%. Not included in the numbers are the tourists who ebb and flow into the CBD or the large population of international students enrolled at the universities and tertiary institutions. This kaleidoscopic cultural make-up of the city is about more than just the faces in the streets, it’s what we each bring with us, and the relationships we have. Music, cuisine, art and language from all parts of the globe are woven into contemporary Auckland. The aroma of dim-sum, tea eggs, roast duck and the cake boutique will without fail cause me to miss neighborhoods I have lived in, particularly in Beijing and Paris, and friends associated with each place.
Walking home from university in the evenings is one of my favourite things. In the beautiful little side streets and lanes people from all over the world relax and hang out with friends. They do so in ways their own cultures dictate. The Saudi guys smoke shisha outside kebab shops; the Korean girls and boys are in the salons dealing to hair or nails. The Chinese sit around in great circles eating yum cha, laughing and telling stories.
Like any place there is a minor degree of tension between different groups. This is not part of my life in Auckland as my daily dealings are unavoidably multicultural, a big part of the reason I like living here. Sometimes I get disappointed by a surprise comment from someone of an older generation (or worse, my generation) who I didn’t realize had red-neck tendencies.
Without giving an in depth history lesson, the relationship between Maori and New Zealand Europeans can be a difficult topic. It has been so entrenched in society that it has a myriad of permutations in the way we operate as New Zealanders. I had the privilege recently of reading a statement by an artist of Asian/New Zealand heritage on a proposed work. The artist’s take on Auckland’s contemporary multicultural society was effortless, encompassing and deeply refreshing. It read along the lines of: ‘We all live here, and we are all fortunate to do so - together’. Its simplicity blew me away and gave me hope that we are finally coming of age as a city, and hopefully a nation.