Multicultural festival postponement uncertain

Premila D’Mello, Ramesh Sharma, Saroj Sharma and Ann Kerewaro (Video & Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford)

Members of the Multicultural Tauranga committee came to the Tauranga Mosque at 18th Ave on Saturday to show their support and share in the grief at the tragic shooting in Christchurch.

Multicultural Tauranga President Ann Kerewaro and her team had been working hard for many months getting ready for the Tauranga Multicultural Festival which was planned for Saturday at the Tauranga Historic Village.

The event had to be postponed, and the decision is still to be made early this week on whether it will be cancelled.

“We were advised by the NZ Police to postpone the festival,” says Ann. “But it may be cancelled altogether.

“I think it’s going to be too difficult to get everybody again, the same ingredients together again on the same date.”

It was very disheartening for the committee to have to postpone the event.

“We’d spent all day on Friday setting it up,” says Ann. “At 10pm on Friday night the decision was to postpone it at that stage.”

“We totally understand the decision,” says Multicultural Tauranga Vice President Premila D’Mello. “Because it was for the safety of all the patrons who come and support Multicultural Tauranga.

“We believe it would have been too soon to have the festival, in the light of what has happened to people on our soil, on New Zealand soil. It’s not what we represent, it’s against the New Zealand values.”

“It was the word ‘multicultural’ that the Police felt was a target,” says Ann. “And too many people would have been there. Different ethnicities, if that’s what this atrocious act in Christchurch is all about – it may not be – but it was just not worth the risk.”

On the official advice of both the NZ Police and Tauranga City Council, the decision reluctantly been made to postpone the Tauranga Multicultural Festival scheduled to be held on Saturday March 16.

Ann says that when the postponement was announced on Friday night, Area Commander Clifford Paxton from the NZ Police informed her that they are not confident that they had sufficient understanding to provide the Multicultural Tauranga organisation with assurance that continuation of the event was at an acceptable level of risk. The unfolding events happening in Christchurch had not been resolved by Friday night.

“Concomitantly, Meagan Holmes from Tauranga City Council informed me that the Mayor, Greg Brownless was not prepared to put staff or the citizens of Tauranga at risk by continuing with the event.”

The committee will be announcing their decision early this week, whether to run the event or cancel it.


 




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