Claims Auckland immigration flawed

By Andre Hueber


Des Dunlop is a sixth generation New Zealander. He's seen the country go through a lot of changes - some he's not too sure about. And he's not afraid to speak his mind about them.

"Us old guys go to town and it's a case of 'spot the white man'," says the 71-year-old Milford resident. "I don't want to live in a culture where we're the minority. I don't want to see the city overrun with people from Asian countries."

Mr Dunlop's views may be controversial but he is not alone. An arm of Auckland Grey Power,  Zone 2, which has 13,000 members aged 50+, wants to limit arrivals from particular nations and has suggested Auckland Council host a forum to discuss a "more restricted national immigration policy".

Chinese immigrants have been singled out because of their alleged "lack of cultural linkages" to New Zealand, through language, religion or custom. Grey Power believes the Chinese have different attitudes towards women and the death penalty and "as a race are not great at integrating".

It says if Auckland gets another 700,000 residents by 2040 - as recommended in the Draft Auckland Plan - Asians would be the majority ethnic group in the city. In 2006, the Asian population of Auckland was 19 per cent; that's projected to be 27 per cent by 2021.

The organisation has made a submission to the Auckland plan that says the region's "major changes in ethnic and cultural mix" were unusually abrupt and "well outside normal cultural transitions".

"It is fair to say that many older people are concerned about the changes to their communities and to what has been familiar to them for many years, and what the future may hold if the majority of Aucklanders are unfamiliar with their traditional values, heritage and culture," the submission says.

Mr Dunlop says the group wants to see a more balanced population and stop one ethnic group from "swamping" the city.

"We don't want Auckland to be turned into the next Singapore. Why should we accept it?"

The retired shipping company executive says elderly people have found it difficult to engage with the way immigration had transformed the population over the past 20 years.

He believes people from Asian countries have no understanding or interest in New Zealand heritage values and were more attuned to living in small apartments. "They aren't worried about living in little dogboxes. They've grown up like that, but Kiwis don't live in ghettos."

He speaks of seeing elderly Asians who cannot speak English and wonders how they get by.

"They all seem to be able to get their Super-Gold Card and get on the bus. I've been paying taxes since 1957. Where are these guys getting these cards from? Who's paying and what are they contributing?"

Mr Dunlop isn't afraid of being called a racist.

"I'm entitled to say what I like, when I like, where I like and how I like. That's the way I was brought up."

Anne Martin, the Warkworth Grey Power president and NZ First Party secretary, says issues around immigration are often thought about but rarely discussed.

"Nobody comes out and says anything because they're scared of being labelled racist," she says.

"What's racist about asking for people's opinion? We skirt around these things because it's politically correct."

She says there is blind acceptance that Asians will be the dominant ethnic group so it is commonsense to have a plan.

IN RESPONSE

Grey Power view: 'Fiction not fact'

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says a race-based immigration policy is unacceptable and Grey Power's submission implies a "prejudicial view reflecting a fear of difference and a dislike of changes that have taken place over a long period'.

"The Grey Power submission is more informed by fiction than by fact."

He says Auckland is diverse and the most significant increase in ethnic populations will be from people who are already New Zealanders.

"The major source of Auckland's ethnic diversity is not immigration, it's reproduction," he says.

Immigration has been balanced from various parts of the world and people come here because they have specific skills.

"The number of people who've come to New Zealand in the last 30 years is not much greater than the number who have left. It's not a problem with immigration, it's a problem with emigration."

The commissioner says people are entitled to their views but they "ought to check their facts'.'

Asia New Zealand Foundation chairman Philip Burdon says research shows most New Zealanders feel positive about the country's Asian communities. The foundation's Perceptions of Asia study in 2011 found 77 per cent of New Zealanders see the Asian region as important to our future. Some 84 per cent agreed Asian people contribute significantly to the economy and 75 per cent agree they bring valuable cultural diversity.

"Our Asian communities contribute a great deal to this country - economically, socially and culturally," Mr Burdon says.

Draft Auckland Plan

The council says its strategy is to make Auckland the "world's most liveable city by 2040". It predicts another one million people and 400,000 dwellings needed to accommodate them.

The council had received more than 2500 submissions to its Draft Auckland Plan when it closed on October 31.

Hearings will be held for all submissions this month and next before the plan is finalised in December.

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- THE AUCKLANDER

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