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21.2.07

Immigration in New Zealand: a fair and balanced look 

[Cross-posted] You know you’ve made it in when Ant Sang does a Bro’ Town-style character of you. This appears in an article by Simon Young in this month’s Idealog, one of my favourite , out now.
   In the article, Simon discusses whether are needed in New Zealand and knocks a few of the out of the ball park. Immigrants, as he uncovers, are more skilled than the cabbies that the stereotype likes to paint. He is fair and balanced, quoting both pro- parties and, well, the government, which is vague almost out of fear, and which his interviewees take to be a prelude to a crackdown on who can enter New Zealand.
   Why can’t this government be more courageous and stand its ground, rather than be bullied by some minor parties and their nobodies? Typical.
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Comments:
I am a migrant. I came to New Zealand on the ill-fated Achille Lauro ship in 1966 as a 5 year old with my parents and two siblings and an accent so thick even I couldn't understand it. My parents had just enough money to freight us all from the docks in Wellington to Auckland where we lived in Ponsonby (when it was poplulated with working class people, many from the Pacific Islands) in a house shared with relatives who had preceeded us. Things were tight for many years, both of my parents worked in low paid jobs for many years. They were able to buy a home on the North Shore on a section which, like those around it, had been scraped of topsoil making the suburb an orange desert of clay unlike anything we had known in our homeland - where most things were grey.

My point is that I am Scottish. It is easy to imagine that the term migrant refers only to easily identifiable groups,...Asians, Africans, eastern Europeans etc, but by far the largest migrant groups are historically from Britain and yet we are largely ignored. The cliche is that Scottish people are canny and industrious - we endure our own stereotyping and prejudice. As a boy I flattened out my accent so that now you would never know I wasn't born and raised entirely in Aotearoa.

I fundamentally dislike the tag 'immigrant'. I think it is crucial to remember that, whatever ethnic extraction you are from, it is no reliable indicator of promise. And, rightly or wrongly I believe New Zealand is as close to a meritocracy as you will find in the world.

If you can make it here you can make it anywhere.  
nice cartoon!  
I agree, David: New Zealand is the closest thing to a meritocracy in the western world. I think Singapore might be up there, too.
   It is interesting you make this note. Some English friends of mine, who came in 1974, talked of the prejudices they faced, too, principally from other white New Zealanders of Anglo extraction, who just happened to have come a few generations earlier.    I had hoped that we are better at treating our new arrivals and welcoming them to our nation today.  
Mark, I pimped you in an interview last week!  
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Note

Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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