With the increasing number of migrants settling into Palmerston North and the Manawatu region, the current Mayor, Paul Reiger initiated a move to provide residents of different ethnic backgrounds with a means to participate in civic activities. A working party was convened by Sandra Irving, International Development Officer of the PNCC, to form an organisation representing different ethnicities in Palmerston North. The inaugural meeting of the Ethnic Council of Manawatu was held in the PNCC Council Chambers. A draft constitution was presented and ratified by the meeting. The 12 charter members included ethnic and community groups based in Palmerston North.
29 May 1995
The organisation was registered as the Ethnic Council for Manawatu Incorporated under the Incorporated Societies Act of 1908. The early years saw the Ethnic Council of Manawatu become involved in many facets of the city and its many volunteer organisations. Most notable of these were: Access Radio and the publication of the "Disinformation" a weekly tabloid for persons with disabilities.
15-16 Nov 1997
The Ethnic Council of Manawatu, under the auspices of the Federation of Ethnic Councils of New Zealand, hosted 'Unity In Diversity- Towards The 21st Century', a national conference attended by over 150 delegates from all over New Zealand and Australia. The Governor-General, Rt Hon Sir Michael Hardie-Boys opened the Conference.
A paper presented by Ute Walker and Carl Stapleton at the Conference resulted in a seeding grant to the Ethnic Council of Manawatu to establish the Community Development Centre. This changed to the Migrant Resource Centre as it was first called. The Ethnic Council itself had been meeting in various locations one of which was the Rangitane Pavilion and there the Resource Centre began its life.
The first actual open sessions were held twice weekly from 2.00 to 4.00 pm and attendance increased as more people became aware of its existence. As this space was also used as a cr¨che, this required the volunteers getting all the necessary equipment out and putting it away again afterwards. (The Rangitane Pavilion was an area in the City Council building across the road from the main building in an area that is no longer recognisable).
Many Ethnic Council members participated including Gretha Van Brakel, Jo and Woody Lee, Thomas Kigufi, Tai Williams and Shen Shue.
In response to the growing needs of new migrants to the city and the Manawatu region, the Ethnic Centre increased opening hours to 25 per week run by two paid part-time workers and as many as ten volunteers. More office space was required so the Centre moved to the Square Edge building supported by funding from the PN City Council and the Lotteries Commission. When the City Council decided that this location would be an ideal area for a cafe/restaurant, we moved to the premises at 292a Church St.
The Council changed its name to the Manawatu Multicultural Council and in June 2011 moved its Centre to the new Community House in King Street.