The Aucklander’s controversial article “Claims Auckland immigration flawed” is fuelling a heated debate among young and old New Zealanders. The Aucklander’s article focused on the opinions of Des Dunlop a sixth generation New Zealander and Milford resident. Mr Dunlop does not want to see Auckland “over-run” by Asian migrants, after reading the Auckland council’s projection that the city’s Asian population will grow to 27% by 2021. Unfortunately, Mr Dunlop is not alone in his opinion. Grey Power also believes that Asian immigrants do not assimilate the New Zealand “culture “because of their lack of culture linkages, support of the death penalty and
different attitudes towards woman.
Wilson Chau, a University of Auckland postgraduate student and teaching assistant, wonders how Mr Dunlop, an educated man with so many years of experience, can jump to such misinformed conclusions. The vast majority of Chinese who move here should be praised and welcomed. They make a courageous decision to move to New Zealand, and often move here because they are opposed to the “death penalty” and other issues in China. These migrants come here to find opportunities to work hard and make better lives for themselves and their families. Why do we have the right to refuse them this opportunity? If we pride ourselves as a hub for economic productivity, social-progress and as a leading tourism destination, then comments from Mr Dunlop will only hurt our national interests.
It is clear that older people are concerned about change in their communities, but there is no excuse for younger New Zealanders to be so outwardly racist towards Chinese migrants. Wilson Chau comments that from his own experience growing up in New Zealand that there are many young New Zealanders that are open about their dislike of Asian migrants and can be verbal and aggressive. It is only small minority that are spoiling the fruits of cultural diversity in New Zealand. We need to redouble our efforts in schools to promote inter-cultural awareness. Social harmony is something that we can’t take for granted and it requires education.
According to Bevan Chuang, member of Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel for the Auckland Council, the Chinese population is diverse and participates in Auckland’s and New Zealand’s cultural, civic and social roles. Many Asian and the Chinese community participated in the recent Rugby World Cup event as ethnic wardens or volunteers. They were proudly displaying their love and support for New Zealand and even flew the All Black flags on their cars. Bevan also commented that many rest homes or private hospitals employ caregivers and other staff from the Chinese community due to the shortage of skilled NZ workers and the county’s aging population. Without these Chinese Mr Dunlop and his Grey Power peers will have less comfortable retirement.
We recommend that Mr Dunlop and his grey power allies take lessons in Mandarin and get to know their Chinese neighbours. This exercise may break down some of the stereotypes that have created these negative views of Chinese migrants. Chinese have been in New Zealand since the 1860’s and the same right to be here as a sixth generation New Zealand European. Demographic shifts can be difficult older population to adjust to and healthy discussions must be encouraged. Migrants contribute significantly to the economic welfare of this country and to this Auckland city and we should welcome them to our culturally diverse and progressive country. The question also needs to be asked of the government “Do we have a Demographic Plan for the next 10-20 years”?.