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Thread: Racism in New Zealand

  1. #1
    ExPat is offline Member
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    Default Racism in New Zealand

    Hello All,

    I'm a newbie here but I had a question about racism in NZ. The family and I are planning on visiting New Zealand this winter and do some "prospecting" on possibly migrating there from the US. I've purchased a few NZ immigration books and have thoroughy read many websites (like this one and Glena's story) and there is frequent mention of racism against Asians. Although I'm not Asian I am concerned that a country's population would so openly show animosity/hatred to a particular group of people and it's giving me pause of even visiting there now. The last thing anyone wants to feel is unwelcome.

    My questions are:
    1. Why is there so much angst against the Asian community/population in NZ?
    2. Does this racism spread to other ethnic groups as well in NZ but not as common as Asians (i.e. Africans, Hispanics, non-Europeans, etc)?

  2. #2
    Pulsarblu's Avatar
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    Default Racism in New Zealand

    Hello ExPat, a warm welcome to the forum.

    Generally speaking, racism is not wide spread in New Zealand. I am Chinese and I have not experience that while I was there in NZ last year.

    Racism is everywhere, not only in NZ. I feel it is less mild in NZ.

    My approach to this issue is two fold rather it takes two hands to clap. Racism stems from the mistaken perception that the particular person across the street is biased against you or you think negatively about that person. It is also the result of the train of thought that "I am more superior than you" and "You are not within our group" and so on.

    Before we get to the point when everyone genuinely understand that everyone is the same and have the inherent goodness within themselves, racism will surely stay and not only in NZ, it is everywhere. We are not separated by races. We are all HUMAN BEINGS, all the same. The reason why you and I look different, thus race is because our ancestors stayed in different latitudes on earth and because of that our skin, hair and eyes changed their properties to suit the weather. Darker skin, iris and hair to protect our bodies from harmful radiation in the equator and lighter skin, iris and hair in the temperate latitudes. This change occur over tens of thousands of years...

    When we change ourselves the thinking deep within that we are all related, racism will fail to exist. On a broader picture, world peace can be secured.

    pulsarblu

  3. #3
    Daisyspop's Avatar
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    Default Racism in New Zealand

    I have not encountered a single instance sine arriving here. That is not to say that I deny the existence of racism I just haven't seen any. On the other hand I saw far too much of it in the UK.

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    Taffy's Avatar
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    Default Racism in New Zealand

    The only racism I've ever picked up on was more from politicians than anything else. It's a different kind of racism though, not your usual "you look different therefore I don't like you", it's more due to the demands that some races place on a society that they should be integrating into, not trying to change for themselves.

    Some of it is just down to poor driving of 'bloody asian drivers' as I've heard them called, and groups of people who insist on speaking in their home language when there are people around who cannot understand, especially those working in a customer service environment.

    NZ is incredibly multicultural, and very accepting of any race - kiwis just don't like rudeness and arrogance, race independant.

    Coming from the US where you have things like the KKK, I'd be more concerned about walking out of my front door than visiting New Zealand.
    Taffy

    The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.

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    Glenda's Avatar
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    Default Racism in New Zealand

    I make my attempt at explaining the subject. (Be gentle - these are just my observations and gut instincts of the situation.) :icon_neutral:

    New Zealand is a small country that has been balancing the race issue between Pakeha and Maori for some generations; there is now a general acceptance of each other's culture - almost a successful mixing of cultures - although there are still issues to be addressed. A couple of examples are that some Maori feel that Pakeha culture is biased against them, and some Pakeha feel that Maori culture is being forced on them or their children. (I undertook a telephone survey recently on the subject of Maori language and one of the questions implied whether it should be the 'first' language in New Zealand with English the second - probably to give Maoris a better chance to succeed.) I think New Zealanders are tolerant to different cultures but probably more aware and sensitive to the subject due to the ongoing Maori/Pakeha situation.

    With more Asians entering the country, there is a general feeling that there will be future problems. The problem is not with the odd hundred or thousand entering the country but with large masses bringing and imposing their culture and language on the already delicately balanced situation here. Having different 'skin or facial features' is not the issue (there are many mixed race NZers) ... it is fitting in and becoming part of NZ society.

    Asian immigrants (especially Muslims at the moment) will probably find it more difficult to find work, even with good English. This can often be due to racism, but more probably because NZers or culturally-similar Europeans are preferred if they are equally, or even slightly less, qualified. The same would probably happen in their home countries. I have not heard any evidence, though, that their NZ brought up and schooled children have that problem.

    :icon_biggrin:
    Glenda
    In NZ since June 2005
    Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness - Chinese proverb

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    ExPat is offline Member
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    Default Racism in New Zealand

    Thanks for all the responses but this essentially sounds like what is happening in just about every country these days. France has "issues" with incoming muslim immigrants (rioters), Australia recently had "issues" with muslims as well, the US has "issues" with people from Mexico and Central American countries and the complaints are usually the same: Incoming immgrants tend to keep their culture and language and don't assimilate as quickly into society as they probably should which cause tensions.

    I'm now wondering how well an English speaking American will integrate into NZ society.

  7. #7
    MotherBear's Avatar
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    Default Racism in New Zealand

    One company's way of dealing with it.

    Workers happy complaint over racism settled
    01.03.06

    Two staff upset by a racist workplace notice say they are finally satisfied that their firm has dealt with the issue. Norske Skog employees Rongo McDonald and Matekino Raerino turned to the Human Rights Commission for help because they were unhappy with their employer's response to their complaint about a document displayed in their Kawerau workplace in December.

    The document, which made derogatory remarks about Maori land claims and suggested that Maori were lazy, dope-growing criminals, was circulated through the mill first by email and then as a hard-copy document. Mrs Raerino said she and Mr McDonald had since met general manager Peter Chrisp and she was satisfied with the conclusion.

    "A new notice has now been hung up on the noticeboard and a policy has been put into place," she said. "Rongo and I are very happy." Mrs Raerino said that last week the offending document had again been pinned on the noticeboard but the shift manager on the paper machine where she worked had taken it down immediately and reported the incident. She had been assured that racist comments made at work would no longer be tolerated.

    Norske Skog external relations manager Chris Marjoribanks said he felt the company had done everything in its power to resolve the issue. It had sent the Human Rights Commission a full summary of the way the issue had been handled, as requested.

    "We are certainly pleased that there has been a favourable outcome," he said.

    Human Rights Commission communications manager James Iliffe said the commission was still liaising with the two parties to see whether the complaint had been resolved.

    "Resolving a complaint quickly and effectively is in everyone's best interest," he said. "It is very positive that the parties have met to discuss the issue and come up with positive solutions to prevent this from happening again."
    Mother Bear

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  8. #8
    Taffy's Avatar
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    Default Racism in New Zealand

    You used the key word there - integrate.

    As long as you do 'integrate' into NZ society, you'll get on as well as anyone else does. An accent wont hold you back, but attitude will. In fact, the right attitude can get you a lot further here than qualifications can sometimes!

    Put it this way, for some reason people believe racism is rife so is well talked about, but in reality - not much exists and although sometimes people spout off about it, one thing that differs NZ from the rest of the world is the lack of violence attached to it.

    If you're going to write off New Zealand because you believe it to be too racist, then quite frankly your only other option to live is the moon. In over a year and a half of living here, only once have I ever seen on the news 'what was believed to be a racially motivated attack'. Even then it was only 'believed' to be. When the bombings happened in London, there were no attacks on muslims, in fact the worst thing that happened was someone spray painted 'RIP London' on a mosque wall.

    Racism is way too over hyped, and as Glenda said most of the tension here is the Maori/Pakeha debate, but even that's more political than anything.
    Taffy

    The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.

  9. #9
    jamesthecarman's Avatar
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    Default Racism in New Zealand

    Quote Originally Posted by ExPat
    Thanks for all the responses but this essentially sounds like what is happening in just about every country these days.....

    I'm now wondering how well an English speaking American will integrate into NZ society.
    Hi ExPat.

    I'm a fellow English speaking American here.

    Put your fears to rest. I'm not sure what part of the US you are from, but it's certainly "far less" of an issue here.

    I come from Florida. Lets just say living in the South with all it's inherent racism did not sit well with me. (I know, calling Florida 'southern' is a bit liberal....hmm, funny word to use here, but you get my point I'm sure!)

    When I came to New Zealand I was blown away. You had to REALLY dig to find it. And it's not this "under the table" stuff we see in the US that no one wants to "say" exists. It is genuinely hard to find it here.

    Another thing you'll notice is that you will be hard pressed to find ghetto's here. The US poverty rate is 12% where as in NZ it's N/A (aka 0%). Just an example to try and show how "hard" it is to find racism and it's igorance here.

    The most "racist" thing that I've heard is "bloody Asian drivers". Granted, it is ignorant....The bad driving is often blamed on poor depth perception. Yet asians are very good baseball players, which of course requires good depth perception.

    This absolutely pales in comparison to what you or I have seen growing up in the US. This may be the "least" racist thing we have heard in a day where we have contact with a decent amount of people (not those days sitting at home....though you can find racism if your just watching the news).

    I've gone on pretty long about this. In conclusion you will be blown away with how accepting of other cultures New Zealand is. Even of Americans (though some of our bretheren tourists can be mightily: demanding/loud/pushy.....but the good thing is NZ'ers can distinguish the "tourists" from the "expats").

    Trust me, you will be just fine (in thought and action). Well, if you demand to get an All Blacks jersey in Gold (the Aussie colour) you may not be. Other than that, you'll be alright! Oh, speaking of Australia, comparing Aussie's racial issues to NZ's issues is akin to comparing "apples and oranges", and not like "you say tomato I say tomato".

    I wrote something about why someone may want to move to NZ (and about why I did). Feel free to read it, I talk about racism in there as well. www.jamesthecarman.com/nzwhy.htm

  10. #10
    jamesthecarman's Avatar
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    Default Racism in New Zealand

    One last thing: We are a fairly well traveled group here.

    Ask ANY one here who has been to NZ, "what is the least racist place you have ever been to" and New Zealand should come out of their mouths (or keyboards).

    Racism exists everywhere, and it does in NZ (since it's on the earth, it has to be included.....but it's not bad, read my previous post)..........BUT you will find that when you ask these well traveled people on this forum, you will find the answer you seek.

    The US (segregation..even today), South Africa (aparthiede), Australia(treatment of aboriginals and other cultures/religions), France (muslim immigrants), UK (it may be less than the US...not that it's saying much), etc.....are so far off the scale as far as racism, that there is very little chance someone would say one of these countries.

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