Volunteer Statement

jay mijaresExploring the Green Pasture

By: Jay Mijares

Before coming here, I had this picture in mind that New Zealand is a green pasture for me to explore. I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to buy an “everybody’s milk” brand imported from this land. I was even warned by friends and relatives that there are more cows and sheep here than people, as I processed my student visa.


Finally, I was airport-bound for the long journey ahead. Then as the plane prepared to land at Invercargill airport, I peeped through the window and took some shots with my mobile phone. Lo and behold, it really is a green pasture. However, it is not because of the hundreds of farms that I’ve seen from above but because I saw a booming city that seems to prepared to expand exponentially from that bird’s eye view before the eagle has finally landed on the runway of Otatara.


I was suddenly filled with hope that someday, I will be able to graduate, make a living amongst the most welcoming people in Southland and bring my family to live better life in this blessed place. On the other hand, this is just a dream for now that I’d prefer not to wake up from.

Yet, every small step that I make everyday, meeting new people and slowly expanding my horizon – exploring the school, the community, the culture, and the people, I believe I am making progress towards my dream. And I owe it to the active multicultural organizations like Southland Multicultural Council (SMC) operating in the city. Events being organized by SMC made me feel at home in the midst of diversity. So I was drawn to volunteer part of my spare time in order to help advance the cause of the council in drawing people together and learning from each other’s culture.


Furthermore, coming from a tropical country, it is a big thing for me to adjust to the chilly weather. But, while the winter wind starts to make my bone shiver in the middle of the night, the warm and welcoming hearts of those I meet melts cold away during the day. So while I am the only Filipino in my batch of Applied Management students at the Southern Institute of Technology, good people who make me feel at home away from home abound. Even someone in the streets readily greet me as I walk to and fro within the community. Thus, I am able to conquer homesickness.


As the place holds the promise of transforming into a bustling city, the caring individuals that prefer to thrive and live in peace together despite differing ethnicities really make it special.  And with great zeal in this new land, I am preparing to make my green pasture a reality.  I know difficulties may I arise but I just try to lean on the promises of the One Good Shepherd, as King David of old writes;

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Bible-MEV).

Office Update

Picture2Greetings to all our Multicultural whanau and friends!

As we are now in the month of the winter season, I hope everyone is warm and cozy and have plenty of Vitamin C.

June is also the month of our Matariki celebration. “Māori New Year”. Matariki is the Māori name for a cluster of stars which is visible in our night sky at a specific time of the year. In 2019, from 25 to 28 June, Matariki will re-appear in the dawn sky – signaling the start of the Māori New Year. Matariki translates as mata riki, which means tiny eyes, or Mata Ariki, which means eyes of God.

Matariki celebrations are held at different times by different iwi, but celebrations most often begin at the next new moon aHer Matariki has risen. It is a time to celebrate new life, to remember those who’ve passed and to plan for the future. And it’s a time to spend with whānau and friends – to enjoy kai (food), waiata (song), tākaro (games) and haka. Recent years have seen a revival in the celebration of Matariki and many communities now hold annual events including cultural performances and traditional Māori crafts and food. There are various events that are organized in Invercargill/ Southland area for this significant event, therefore I encourage you to participate and take the opportunity to immerse yourself in this fantastic celebration.

The SMCI AGM was held the end of May, on behalf of SMCI committee thanks to all who’ve attended and who’ve sent an apology. The new committees are: Chairperson: Neill Rumble Secretary: Kristina Benipayo Treasurer: Melissa Hobbs Committee members: Adriana Rincon, David Reyes, Nayabet Espinoza, Steve McGregor

At the AGM there was a resolution passed and it is highlighted at the chairperson message on the front page. The work of these changes will commence shortly with the guidance of our resources along with our fantastic governance team.

Recently, we celebrated and promoted the Philippine culture in conjunction with the celebration of 121 years of Philippine Independence Day. On behalf of the organising team, I would like to thank all the people who have attended the event. To our sponsors, SIT for the venue, Goldelights and Filipino Asian Store for the food ingredient contributions and to our amazing volunteers who worked hard and tirelessly to make the extra event special. A special acknowledgement to Regina Bennett for the extras assistance to us in making the event a smoothly as possible. A massive thanks to all performers (Invercargill Filipino Dance Group & The Core group) at the event, it was such a dazzling performance overall and for sure everyone gains an insight knowledge about the Philippine dance culture.

Last week, I was in Singapore attending the ICCS- International Conference on Cohesive Societies, the conference gave me a very insightful knowledge and experience. It was indeed a great opportunity being there listening to all keynote speakers that gave powerful messages.

In the hence sight, the incoming cultural event we have in place for July is Nepalese culture, please refer to the next page for the information about this event. This is the first time the Nepalese culture be celebrated to our wider community. I therefore, encourage you to come along and witness these fantastic cultures that have plenty to offer in which you will gain insightful knowledge about their tradition and taste of cuisine. The annual Kidzone family fun activity is only a few weeks away and we are still in need of volunteers to help us out in our activity room. (Date for Kidzone is 10 to 15 of July at James Hargest Senior Campus). Till then, we look forward to meeting, welcoming and seeing you again soon. Stay safe and keep warm.

Nga Mihi Nui

Meggy Bartlett-McBride


Chairperson Message

neillIt is my pleasure to accept the role of Chairperson for the ensuing year. During the last year committee   members singlely have chaired the monthly meetings as an encouragement to their leadership. This has   proven to be successful and will continue in this format under my tenure this year.

I welcome Melissa Hobbs as the new treasurer. Melissa will work alongside our Coordinator and   Administrator and I am sure will perform her tasks admirably. Going forward we will be investigating in   becoming a charitable trust as per resolution from recent AGM. We will commence the “ground work”  during  this year. It is not a” quick fix” and will require some minor adjustments to our present constitution-   More on  this later in the year.

This change to charitable trust status is recommended to assist with funding applications and reporting functions.

I am passionate that we continue to have a voice in working alongside and with the wider community. To do this we will continue to be pro-active in promoting the interests of ethnic communities and migrants in Southland with a view to unite all groups under our “umbrella” in order to avoid duplication of events for each culture. We will continue to conduct an “open door” policy and you are always welcome to visit our office in the Community House building in Kelvin Street.

There is no “I” in team and we know that as a committee we will work diligently to ensure that we continue to celebrate cultural diversity in our community

"Some people strengthen the society just by being the kind of people they are." John Gardner