Diversity at AUT

29 May, 2017
University Director of Diversity, Professor Edwina Pio

Diversity has always been part of the mix of Aotearoa New Zealand. Diversity encourages us to imagine other worlds and other lives in the interstices beyond the binary oppositions in which we entrap ourselves.  http://www.aut.ac.nz/about-aut/aut-diversity

Author Rudyard Kipling (British but born in Mumbai, India) visited New Zealand at the age of 24 in 1891. He described Auckland as 'last, loneliest, loveliest, exquisite, and apart.’ AUT engages with real world issues with its strong commitment to diversity.

Our University Director of Diversity, Professor Edwina Pio was a judge at the recent 2017 Race Unity Speech Awards. Over 150 high school students from 14 different regions of New Zealand contested the Awards. The judges included Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy, Tayyaba Khan and Barbara Morgan. The chief judge was Assistant Commissioner Wallace Haumaha of the NZ Police

The six national finalists spoke with eloquence, conviction and humour on the kaupapa of standing up to racism and promoting harmony and unity. The topic given to the students for this year’s speech was “Standing up for Racism – That’s us!” Tauawhi Bonilla of Te Aute College won the National Final of the 2017 Race Unity Speech Awards. “…It’s unity through kindness, loyalty and humility, that is what spin the wheels of our humble little country,” he said.

New Zealand is one of the most ethnically diverse nations on earth as well as one of the most peaceful.  If peace and working intelligently in our diverse society is based on humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity, then it is crucial that all human beings feel that their freedoms are protected through intercultural understanding, mobilizing for education and pursuing scientific cooperation.

And in the month of Ramadan, it is instructive to remind ourselves of what the Sufi mystic poet, philosopher Rumi said: “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” We can choose to move away from ossified beliefs and can constantly reinvigorate ourselves with a variety of viewpoints where we remember to honour the dignity imbued within each individual. Diversity can be recorded in the mind, but for change and transformation, it must be experienced in the heart. In its praxis, diversity encourages us to craft holistic policies capable of addressing the minds and hearts of individuals particularly within interconnected societies and in global public spaces. In a shifting world of heterogeneity and Diasporas – we have choices. Do we continue orthodoxies or do we weave new mental cartographies - diversity cartographies that discern detail…that contribute meaningfully, ethically and sustainably to our organisations and the communities within which we live and work.

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