This story from the Herald archives originally appeared in May 2016.

A New Zealand-born Chinese teenager has blasted the attitudes of some Kiwis towards her, saying they see her as "just another foreigner" here to buy their houses.

The 17-year-old student, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she now felt unwelcome in the country she was born and raised in.

Her experience is felt by many young Chinese, a community leader has revealed.

Advertisement

READ MORE: Home Truths - NZ's unaffordable housing crisis

In an open letter sent to the Herald, the Auckland teen spoke about the influx of foreign buyers in the New Zealand housing market and how she now felt as if ordinary Kiwis blamed her because of her ethnic background.

"Just recently, I no longer feel like I am welcome in the country I have lived in for my whole life. I am viewed daily as just another foreigner who is here to take houses away from local New Zealanders.

"Despite how much I love the land I spent my childhood in, I get annoyed glances because people who share the same blood as me are taking away opportunities that rightfully belonged in our society.

"Except these opportunities are taken from me too."

The teen lives on the North Shore, where she attends high school.

She said she is proud to be born a Kiwi, that she had been schooled in New Zealand and hopes to contribute to society one day.

Contrary to what people believed when they looked at her, she did not come from a very wealthy family and her parents - immigrants - had worked hard after arriving in New Zealand with almost nothing, she said.

Ending her letter, the teenager acknowledged she would always remain a minority.

"This is the world that I live in. I am a minority who identifies with the majority - but is identified as an outsider.

"I am not considered to be on the same side as everyone else. I am considered as one of the people taking opportunities away, even though the same opportunities have been taken away from me."

Auckland Chinese Community Centre chairman Kai Luey said many young Chinese felt the same way.

"A lot of our Chinese youth have felt that over the years when they get the backlash of things going on and they become a victim of the circumstances. It happens every time there is something that goes on and [people] point the finger at the Chinese community as the cause ... it is a backlash coming from that," he said.

"I think there is quite a few houses being bought by overseas persons, including Chinese, but [people] are picking on Chinese as being the culprits causing [the housing problem]. Whenever you get a number of people who are more noticeable, or in the words of Winston Peters an 'Asian invasion', the finger gets pointed."

Mr Luey said Chinese people were reasonably well accepted in New Zealand, but discrimination still occurred.

"If you go to school and you speak like a New Zealander, you are just treated the same as other people. It is just that whenever there is a large number of [Chinese], they get tarred with the same brush.

"It happens with other minority people who suddenly seem to be causing problems to other people.

"It is a natural thing, everyone points the finger when something goes wrong. People are always looking for a scapegoat and we are a convenient target."

He said New Zealand had come far in terms of acceptance but there was still a long way to go.

Read full letter below:
My story as an Asian Kiwi in our changing house market.

Recently, there has been an extreme influx of foreign buyers in the housing market. As a last year high school student, this isn't something that's the centre of conversation, but something that hangs on my mind, behind the piles of school work to get through.
Being a Chinese youth who grew up in New Zealand, I am proud of who I am. I am proud of my heritage and of my culture. I am proud to have been born a New Zealander. I am proud that I have grown up in the New Zealand schooling system. I am proud of my parents who worked day and night to give me the life I have now. I hope to contribute to society as much as I can when I can. However, just recently, I no longer feel like I am welcome in the country I have lived in for my whole life. I am viewed daily as "just another foreigner" who is here to take houses away from local New Zealanders. Despite how much I love the land I spent my childhood in, I get annoyed glances because people who share the same blood as me are taking away opportunities that rightfully belonged in our society. Except these opportunities are taken from me too. I do not have extremely wealthy parents who can support me when I want to buy a house. I do not have any advantage over any other young high school student. I have no one to count on but myself

When my parents immigrated, they gave up many opportunities and came with nothing. However, instead of living on the great public benefits that New Zealand provides, my parents hustled extremely hard. Starting with just minimum wage jobs, every dollar was saved where we could to pay for the mortgage of our first home. This meant my brother and I were never able to get the newest clothes and toys we wanted, and we learnt to settle with what we had.

The road to where we are now has been a hard grueling one. Since we were young, my brother and I learnt that if we wanted to be wealthy, to be able to afford our dream houses and dream cars, we have to work hard. Like many other high school students, I try my very best in all my subjects, and have many goals I am working towards regarding university and beyond. After almost 18 years, our once extremely poor family can now be considered well off, and I am almost going to start the journey for myself.
However, after becoming aware of the significantly increase of house prices in Auckland, I felt a strong need to go look at it for myself. From the perspective of many foreign buyers I have talked to, New Zealand is like a haven compared with many other countries. Our society is mature and well developed. Our environment is to be envied. Our house prices are comparatively low. It's a great investment to diversify wealth, to many different countries. Unlike other options such as Sydney, there are no constraints. However, whilst New Zealand seems like a great place to invest in, this influx of money is not purely positive.

House owners are delighted, as significant increase in demand has resulted in house values skyrocketing. My parents were lucky to be able to benefit from this, and thus increase our living standard through their hard work. However, as a young student, this is terrifying news to me. This increase in housing price is just increasing the seemingly unreachable wealth gap. I have first handedly experienced the difference throughout the years. The cost of our first family home was just under $400,000 when we purchased it around 10 years ago, but now it has a market price of over double. However, the amount my parents earned around then were not that different from how much I hope to earn out of university. Something that used to be attainable through hard work is no longer something we can achieve through hard work. Our unnatural increase in housing price is making it impossible for our generation to purchase our first home without significant funding from our parent. This is means that even if you work your hardest, without prior wealth, it is almost impossible to take the first step into the house market anymore.

This is the world that I live in. I am a minority, who identifies with the majority, but is identified as outsider. I am not considered to be on the same side as everyone else. I am considered as one of the people taking opportunities away, even though the very same opportunities have been taken away from me.

By Anonymous (Age 17)
02 May 2016