Islanders 'drain on economy' report out-of-date - de Bres

An academic report describing Pacific Islanders as a drain on the economy relied on out-of-date data and was misleading, according to a review by Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.

The report, Growing Pains: Evaluations and the Cost of Human Capital , was headed by economist Greg Clydesdale, of Massey University's management and international business department, and was released in May.

The report said Pacific Island immigrants were less productive and less likely to contribute to economic growth.

They had the highest unemployment in every age group, were less likely to start businesses, had lower rates of self-employment and were over-represented in crime statistics.

In his review Mr de Bres said Dr Clydesdale's report contained "only a few paragraphs about Pacific peoples and relied on out-of-date data that gave a misleading impression of the situation".

Peer reviews were critical of the report's academic standard and The Dominion Post, which originally carried the story, accepted a complaint about the accuracy of its headline and subsequently published a thorough feature on the issue, Mr de Bres said.

"No evidence was provided to support the statement that they (Pacific people) were an underclass or a drain on the economy. They suffered disproportionately from the economic and social policies of the 80s and 90s.

"Although they do continue to experience social and economic disadvantage their situation is generally improving and their economic, social and cultural contribution is significant," Mr de Bres said.

Massey University's acting vice-chancellor Ian Warrington welcomed Mr de Bres' review as a "thorough and thoughtful examination" of the issues.

"Massey University is firmly committed to the principles of academic freedom but equally firmly committed to the highest standards of research, professionalism and ethical behaviour.

"The university did not release Dr Clydesdale's material to the media and never endorsed the content of it. It understands and regrets the hurt caused in some communities as a result of what was reported, but also notes the commissioner's finding that many reports were inaccurate."

Massey had received complaints about the report which were under investigation, Prof Warrington said.

Mr de Bres' review was released at a diversity forum in Auckland today.

- NZPA

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