Racism claims split Grey Power

By Mathew Dearnaley

Bill Rayner. Photo / File
Bill Rayner. Photo / File

A senior Grey Power official has complained about the planned increase in immigrants in Auckland - prompting claims from his national president that his submission is racist.

Auckland zone director Bill Rayner wrote in a submission to Auckland Council that the community and lifestyle of the region's older residents "is under serious threat from the rapid and huge changes in size and ethnic mix projections included in the Auckland Plan".

His submission also calls on Auckland Council to hold a forum to make decisions about the Super City's "optimum size and ethnicity".

Mr Rayner told the Herald he was not against immigration, but feared that its scale and speed was threatening to turn Auckland into "an Asian city" out of kilter with the rest of New Zealand.

The vice-president of Grey Power's central Auckland branch, David Shand, has taken strong issue with the submission and says the organisation "seems to have become a group of embittered old white people".

He has challenged Mr Rayner - who is part Maori - to define optimum ethnicity, calling it "a horrifying concept which would not be out of place in the apartheid era in South Africa".

Grey Power national president Roy Reid said he shared Mr Shand's concern about the submission, which would be challenged by at least two other board members at a meeting in Auckland next week.

He said he told Mr Rayner he thought part of his submission was racist, and he did not believe it reflected the views of the membership at large. "New Zealand is becoming a multi-racial society," Mr Reid said. "There's going to be a mixture of people from all over the world and it is something we are going to have to learn to live with."

But Mr Rayner was last night sticking to his guns, saying he was offended by such criticism of his plea for Auckland to adopt some sort of population policy rather than accepting unprecedented changes to its size and ethnic makeup.

Among the plan's predictions is that Asian people will account for 30 per cent of Auckland's population by 2021 - up from 19 per cent in the 2006 census and and 5.5 per cent in 1991.

He said that as a descendant of settlers who arrived here in 1845 and of Ngati Kahungungu, he was a product of generations of cultural assimulation but was worried about the social impact of such a large shift, a concern he believed was shared by professional demographers.

"I think New Zealand has had very good integration, but when you get the traditional core societal structure suddenly shifted, it's a different issue."

Mr Rayner said he was also concerned about older immigrants trying to pass the time in unfamiliar surrounds while their families were out working long hours. "I quite often just ask them in for a glass of water - you see them wandering along on their own."


Hair raising points of difference

One size should not fit all when it comes to hairdressing licence fees in a multi-cultural Auckland, says Grey Power regional director Bill Rayner.

Arguing against a standardised fee of $207 across the region, Mr Rayner has referred Auckland Council to the varied hair types .

"It is clear that in South Auckland with a large Pasifika population, [with] big people with good heads of hair, the hairdresser needs are quite different from Remuera where perms and pin curls are probably still a key feature of the hairdressers' professional skill," he wrote.

Members of the Asian population have very straight hair, and "due recognition should be given to the greater productivity that results from cutting thinning hair in areas of a high population of seniors".

Mr Rayner said last night he was being "tongue in cheek".


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- NZ Herald

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