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Embracing cultures . . . Getting ready for the first annual National Multicultural Day are (from left) Yoko Jenner, Maria Buldain, Tie Jain with his son Joseph Tie (2), and Song Chen with her daughter Lisa Ji (4). PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

A new tradition for traditional attire.

That is what the Waitaki Multicultural Council is hoping to achieve with its first annual National Multicultural Day on August 27.

As part of the New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Council’s inaugural Te Tiriti-based multicultural day, people across the country are being asked to bring their cultural heritage to work, school, and their communities. They are encouraged to speak their native language, don traditional attire, share their cultural music and food, and share stories from their ancestral land.

Waitaki Multicultural Council chairwoman Maria Buldain said the day functioned to normalise cultural differences.

It also allowed people to express their culture with a sense of acceptance and inclusion, Mrs Buldain said.

Clothing could hold a lot of meaning.

Yoko Jenner, who is from Japan, planned to wear a kimono on the day.

In Ms Jenner’s grandmother’s generation, the kimono was worn in everyday life.

In her mother’s generation, the kimono’s use was reduced to special occasions, such as funerals or weddings due to the impact of western imperialism.

Now it went widely unworn, but there was a movement from younger people to mix traditional Japanese attire with western clothing, she said.

Ms Jenner was a part of that movement, often donning pieces from both cultures.

She believed the multicultural day could act as a conversation starter for those “brave enough” to ask questions.

“I think it’s a good chance for people who don’t know [about] other cultures to get to know us,” Ms Jenner said.

In conjunction with the Waitaki District Council, this year’s celebrations in Oamaru would take place at the Waitaki District Council building next Friday.

At 11.30am, a group photo would be taken and ethnic food would be served.

Though this year’s celebration was starting off small, Mrs Buldain hoped a tradition would grow from it.

The celebration would fall on the last Friday of August each year.