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Southland multiculturalism 'becoming more visible'

Increasing visibility is key to increasing understanding of other cultures, several overseas people now living in Invercargill say.

Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) student Hank Huang, who came to Invercargill from the Chinese city of Wuhan, said he believed most Southlanders, including people in Invercargill, were respectful of different cultures.

"It's a really good city, but the weather is horrible. People are very friendly."

Angela Kim, studying English and IT at SIT, agreed.

"[People are] very friendly and kind. Better than other cities."

Huang and Kim were among thousands who attended the Southland Multicultural Food Festival at Stadium Southland on Saturday. The event featured 42 different stalls offering information and food from cultures around world, as well as a variety of musical performances and dances showcasing different cultures.

Volunteer and festival organiser Prashanth Nallur Puttaswamy​​ said the event was a sign that Southland was becoming more diverse.

"We are in our seventh year," he said.

"People have taken everything in a very positive way."

Nallur Puttaswamy, originally from the Indian city of Bengaluru​ (formerly known as Bangalore), said he personally had not seen too much racial abuse in Southland, but that understanding other cultures was important to prevent such things from happening.

Southland Multicultural Council committee member Madhu Redman said the growth of the food festival - which began at SIT before moving to James Hargest College and then to Stadium Southland as it got bigger each year - was a sign of the increasing diversity in Southland.

"It is much more diverse. We're also becoming more visible."

Being visible was important, she said.

"The more we expose our culture to others, the more we understand each other."

Southland Multicultural Council president Thembi Mabunda​ said helping people to understand others was a key part of what her organisation did.

"I think some are still learning. But that's what we're here for."

Events like the food festival were great because they would lead to more visibility, she said, which could lead to more acceptance.

"I think this is great for Southlanders to come here and actually learn about other cultures."

Nearby, at a stall run by Curry Guru,The Malabar Kitchen, Mandeep Singh said he enjoyed Invercargill and meeting others.

"It's a good place," he said.

"We are new here, and it's good when you get together."


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