AS I SEE IT: Cheryl Bowie

• Self-employed business consultant
• Bachelor of business (AUT)
• 2007 participant in Leadership NZ course
• Mother to Jacob & Caitlin

How would you describe the New Zealand identity?

In word “changing”. As the demographic make-up of our society changes significantly so will our identity. We will need to explore our identity in light of the variety of cultures in our country. Having said that, I believe there are some key values that bind us all together as New Zealanders: safe place to live, educational opportunities, clean water and air, lots of space, sense of freedom, equality and freedom of expression. These are the things that make us all love New Zealand. They are why we return home after our overseas experiences and why immigrants choose to make their homes here. These values are good foundation for more dialogue around forming our identity in the face of changing society.

What will be our next major challenge?

Distribution of wealth and race relationships. Over the next few decades our predominantly European community will be replaced by dominant Maori, Pacific Island and Asian demographic. Given the current distribution of wealth in our country, this means we need to plan for future where the Maori, Pacific Island and Asian communities can contribute to our economy in meaningful way. As the predominantly European population ages we need to ensure the next generation of New Zealanders are educated and healthy enough to become the future economic base.

What do we need to do to prepare ourselves for this?

Government needs to focus on how to redistribute the wealth of our country through education, health and social policies. Also, many New Zealanders are unaware of the confronting statistics regarding wealth distribution and changing demographics. If more of us were educated about what the impacts are for our future as nation, there would be more preparedness to take action. This doesn’t just apply to wealth distribution but also to natural resource distribution where we will have strong competition for limited resources.

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