Asians go home!


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it must be election time again. And once again it's time to pick on the Asians.

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Why is it that it's always Asians and Arabs that get picked on? How come no one's calling for Pacific Islanders to be sent home? Is it because they are bigger and hence more likely to win a fist-fight?

I expect comments like those made by New Zealand First Deputy Leader Peter Brown to increase in frequency as the general election approaches.  Of course migrants need to integrate. It goes without saying. Why else would they come to this faraway land and leave their friends and family behind if they had no desire whatsoever to integrate? In any case, effective settlement does not depend on immigrants adopting a new set of values and behaviours and ditching their own.

It must be a 2-way process. Most migrants are not interested in building “Asian mini-societies”. I think those who do have no choice, having been rejected by the host community. Browsing through the Herald reader responses to Peter Brown's comments, I think I can safely say that the sad fact is a significant number of locals believe Asian migrants should drop everything they believe in and adopt “Kiwi” ways of life – whatever that means. I have come to the conclusion that when locals say you have to “be Kiwi”, in reality the message is “be like me”. One respondent said “with the influx of immigrants from different ethnic groups, our culture and values are changing. It seems, so as to not offend these newcomers, our public Christmas celebrations have been watered down!” Another: “Silly that we let so many people into this country that can speak little if any English at all”.

The fact is most migrants can speak English, and can speak it well, some even better than locals. If we measure the desire to integrate on the basis of language ability, my guess is 90% of migrants speak good enough English for most jobs. However, 90% of born-and-bred Kiwis speak only one language well, ie English. So who's not really wanting to integrate here? Of course you would argue that this is an English-speaking country, but doesn't the fact that most Kiwis can't speak any other language and have little desire to do so a sad indictment?

I feel a little uncomfortable writing this, seeing I have many good friends who are of New Zealand European or Maori descent, and I can't say that they have ever told me to be more Kiwi in a derogatory way. OK maybe sometimes, when I express my dislike for vegemite or weetbix.  It would be most unfair for me to tar all Kiwis with the same brush, in the same way that those people who have responded on the Herald website have concluded about Asian migrants.

Many Asian migrants are sick and tired of all this rubbish. They don't want to be treated in this manner anymore. Especially not in the new New Zealand, where 1 in 4 residents was born overseas.

This could explain why Asians and other immigrants are swinging to National in this election at twice the rate of any other group, according to a Herald survey. Of 38 “Asians and others” asked, 21 said they voted Labour last time, and only 8 are staying with the party this year. Whether this is fair, I don't know.

But I'll be Kiwi now and just call it like I see it.


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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.