The academics call it “social connectedness” – the ability of people who belong to diverse groups, especially ethnic groups to “connect” with those who belong to other groups. Film industry icon, Danny Mulheron describes it as “knowing your neighbour”.
It is seen as a vital element of a cohesive society, one where people don’t live in silos and ghettos don’t form. By international measure New Zealand is strong in this respect – for example Maori form 15% of the population, same as African Americans are 15% of the US population. Yet the rate of intermarriage rate between people whose ethnic identity includes Tangata Whenua and other New Zealanders, is 3 times as high as the mixing of African Americans and their fellow citizens.
Further, that mixing continues to rise in New Zealand. In the academic literature the strengthening of this connectedness – the mutual respect of each other’s culture and values, is seen as vital to a healthy, sustainable and enriching society.
But New Zealand has worked hard at this, to overcome the tides of segregation. Broadcaster Wallace Chapman recalls his 1970’s experience;