Mayor of Christchurch visits Annie Wright


Julia Henning

Upper School activities Model UN/Global Action and Inkwell had the pleasure of sitting down with the Mayor of Christchurch, New Zealand, Lianne Dalziel, on Monday afternoon. They discussed the topics of women in politics, indigenous people, environmental issues, disaster relief from the earthquake in 2011, and the difference between Christchurch and Tacoma.

Lianne Dalziel has been the Mayor of Christchurch since 2013. Before that she served on the New Zealand Parliament for 23 years (1990-2013) as a member of the New Zealand Labour party. “I started in politics very young. And I was in the government when Helen Clark was the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I was a covenant minister and I held a number of portfolios including Immigration, commerce, small business, but also women’s affairs. I’ve got quite a broad range of experience,” Dalziel explained to the group.

With about 4.8 million people, New Zealand is a commonwealth state and has a trade relationship with the United Kingdom. The most known indigenous group is the Maori people. Their group is dying out as they suffer from economic holdbacks.

During the forum, the topic of cultural appropriation and racial discrimination came up. Dalziel explained how the minority group is treated as a whole in New Zealand. “There was an issue around a painting of the Maori, the face tattoo, to be associated with a fashion house that used it as a design enhancement, and that was considered to be very culturally offensive. There was also an issue with the movie Moana. I’m pretty sure locals in New Zealand had something to say about it,” said Dalziel.

She continued, “If you’re Maori, you are much more likely to be stopped by the police. You are much more likely to be arrested. You are much more likely to be charged. The charges are much more serious and you’re much more likely to go to prison. The police became aware of this maybe 10 years ago. And so they instituted a program where they deliberately recruited from Maori, Pacifica, and also much more migrant populations in order to create a diversity among the police forces.”

Christchurch is the third largest city in New Zealand with a population of 360,000. Christchurch is a sister city of Seattle and the home of Annie Wright’s all girls exchange partner school Rangi Ruru, which translates to “shelter from the storm” in the indigenous Maori language. Rangi Ruru was founded in 1889, only 5 years after Annie Wright. Holding grades 7-13, the school provides a boarding option for students. It offers programs like equestrian, sports, arts, theatre, and exchanges.

The exchange coordinator and Japanese and Spanish teacher at Rangi Ruru, Tania Morgan, also visited Annie Wright this week. Annie Wright juniors Tana Anulacion and Holly Shadko both attended the school during their exchange to New Zealand in summer 2017.