Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Race trend 'shock' for older Kiwis

Grey Power official's views draw fire but Auckland rep says seniors are concerned about pace of change.

Grey Power's Auckland zone director Bill Rayner said the community and lifestyle of the region's older residents was "under serious threat from the rapid and huge changes in size and ethnic mix projections included in the Auckland Plan". Photo / Glen Jeffrey
Grey Power's Auckland zone director Bill Rayner said the community and lifestyle of the region's older residents was "under serious threat from the rapid and huge changes in size and ethnic mix projections included in the Auckland Plan". Photo / Glen Jeffrey

A senior Grey Power official's complaints about immigration have been labelled uninformed, but the group's central Auckland president says they reflect the feeling of many elderly in the area.

Anne-Marie Coury, the president of Grey Power's central Auckland branch, said that immigration policy was a matter for central government, and control on population growth, density and ethnicity were highly controversial and largely "not part of our core business".

"However, I note that at all the seniors meetings I speak at as a guest, there are some seniors who are raising concerns about ... getting to know neighbours when they are now surrounded by so many who don't speak English and with whom they have little natural opportunity to mix."

In a submission to Auckland Council, Grey Power's Auckland zone director Bill Rayner said the community and lifestyle of the region's older residents was "under serious threat from the rapid and huge changes in size and ethnic mix projections included in the Auckland Plan".

He said he feared the scale and speed of immigration was threatening to turn Auckland into an Asian city.

Grey Power national president Roy Reid and the vice-president of its central Auckland branch David Shand both took strong issue with Mr Rayner's submission, which will be challenged by at least two other board members at a meeting in Auckland next week.

However, Ms Coury said it was a fact that many of Auckland's elderly were uncomfortable with the pace of change in society.

"The question is how much change can people cope with, in a short space of time, before symptoms of anxiety and culture shock become a sort of new norm, especially for those whose reference points are being removed, or discarded?"

Yesterday a spokesman for the Human Rights Commission said Mr Rayner was entitled to express his views. "However, it should be noted that New Zealand's immigration policy is based on the skills and expertise people bring to New Zealand and not their race or ethnicity."

Auckland Council's ethnic peoples advisory panel member Asoka Basnayake said Mr Rayner's comments were uninformed.

"People are settling in Auckland. New Zealand needs more people, and unless we produce them here - which is not going to happen - people need to come from somewhere."

Arthur Loo, chairman of the Auckland Chinese Community Centre, said immigration had so far been largely harmonious.

"All credit to New Zealanders in general for that ... we were all immigrants at one stage or another. When do you stop becoming an immigrant and part of the social fabric?"

NZ First to change coconut stall sign

New Zealand First says it will alter a sign promoting a fundraising stall after complaints its offer of a "chance to unseat a coconut" had racist undertones.

The sign has appeared at NZ First's coconut shy at the annual Kumeu show for a number of years.

However, hard on the heels of NZ First MP Richard Prosser's anti Muslim outburst in Investigate magazine, the sign at the coconut shy at last weekend's show prompted a number of visitors to send photographs to the Herald.

Shane Primrose, of NZ First's Waitakere branch, who made the sign said it had "nothing to do with racism".

"It's totally about just unseating a coconut," he said referring to the game, which consists of throwing balls at a row of coconuts.

"How else do we word it?"

However, Mr Primrose said he took the point the sign could be taken the wrong way and it would be altered.

Samoan-born NZ First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor found it funny.

"The issue is it's making me laugh," she said. "I like to think I have a great sense of humour ... and we can't afford to take everything too seriously in this world otherwise we'll be running mad and we will be diagnosed as having mental problems."

However, she said the choice of words could be improved.

A spokeswoman for Kumeu showgrounds said NZ First had operated the coconut shy since 2007, during which time they had only received one complaint, "but we haven't had anything so far this year".

- NZ Herald

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