At the Launch of MOCA - L-R Jenny Nand, Ninitha Koy, Ankita Singh (guest speaker), Kelvyn Eglinton (Momentum CEO), Antoine Gilbert-Saad, Holly Snape, Priya Kurian, Jovi Abellanosa, Mark Servian, Vanisri Mills.
A new fundraising campaign using a branded coffee ‘KeepCup’ to prompt people to have conversations about building bridges between cultures was launched last night at a function at the Ferrybank Lounge in Kirikiriroa-Hamilton.
‘The Movement for Open Culture Aotearoa’, or ‘MOCA’, is a new initiative of the Waikato Intercultural Fund, which was established in 2019 by Momentum Waikato, the region’s community foundation, as a positive response to the Christchurch terrorist attack.
As publicised at the time, the Waikato Intercultural Fund is a long-term project aiming to build the greater community connectedness needed to counter the social alienation that lead to such atrocities.
Fund Co-Chairs Jenny Nand and Mark Servian say the team of volunteers they lead aim to gather a ‘giving circle’ of people who donate, fundraise, and invest together to support activities that grow an ‘open culture’ worldview in the Waikato.
“Our vision is a flourishing intercultural society in Aotearoa New Zealand, where everyone recognises and celebrates the diversity of humanity and the humanity of diversity,” says Jenny.
“Interculturalism is the concept that the synergy created when people from diverse cultures live and work together harmoniously, while also all being secure in their own identities, creates and supports unified, resilient, and prosperous communities.
“It builds beyond ‘multiculturalism’ by asserting that all cultures in a society are of equal and equitable value, that individuals may embody more than one culture, and that peace, understanding and mutual respect grow from pursuing and celebrating dialogue and diversity in every aspect of life.”
The Waikato Intercultural Fund has now launched the Movement for Open Culture Aotearoa initially as a fundraising vehicle for local activity by itself and other groups. The team intends to build it into a nationwide network by offering it as a partnership project to the other sixteen community foundations around Aotearoa-New Zealand.
“MOCA is an anti-racism initiative aiming to provide a positive, pro-active and non-partisan solution to societal and cultural division and hostility,” says Mark.
“Its opening initiative, the first of many, is the MOCA coffee ‘KeepCup’, pictured below.
“To support MOCA, you pledge to have an ‘Open Heart, an Open Mind, and an Open Door’. Then if you make a donation of $20 or more you receive a MOCA coffee cup.
“Then when having a coffee with others, you can let the MOCA logo on the cup prompt you to have a conversation about what a diverse intercultural Aotearoa-New Zealand would look like, and how we are going to get there.
“Then you can send us the great intercultural ideas you come up with, so we can look at making them happen!”
Momentum Waikato CEO Kelvyn Eglinton says the MOCA concept resonates with his reasons for establishing the Waikato Intercultural Fund in 2019.
“Both professionally and personally I have been lucky enough to have often found myself in the spaces of other cultures,” says Kelvyn.
“In all those situations, I endeavoured to show basic human respect for how people of other cultures and faiths live their lives.
“That respect doesn’t compromise my identity, my origins or the values that underpin my life or community. It does not represent, as the terrorist of Christchurch and his ilk would have you think, that we are losing our ‘New Zealand-ness’.
“Our ability to be inclusive, as a nation, as a global community, requires us all to try our best to understand and show respect for cultures, experiences, and traditions different to our own.
“Not to disassociate or put distance between us, but to seek and demonstrate a greater understanding and care for each other.
“Because mutual respect for our differences creates the sense of unity that confirms that our humanity, our love of family and connection to community, is what we have in common,” says Kelvyn.
The guest speaker at the Launch of MOCA was Ankita Singh, pictured above, whose comedy play Basmati Bitch was a sell-out earlier this year at Auckland’s Q Theatre. Hailing from Chandigarh and Kirikiriroa-Hamilton, Ankita is the founder of Asian theatre producers Oriental Maidens and has an animated series in development with Taika Waititi’s Piki Films.
The Waikato Intercultural Fund now has a balance of around $78,000 within Momentum Waikato’s endowment. At last night’s function it presented its first two grants.
They were chosen because their work models the Waikato Intercultural Fund’s mission.
In future, grants will be offered for any activity that facilitates bridgebuilding between cultures, including for instance entertainment events that attract diverse audiences.
Anything that breaks down social silos and gets people from different cultures together in a room meeting each other.
The Movement for Open Culture Aotearoa – MOCA is now open for business at facebook.com/movementforopencultureaotearoa and instagram.com/movementforopencultureaotearoa. Donations towards creating an intercultural Waikato can be made at momentumwaikato.nz/waikatointerculturalfund.