To steal the words said by Juliet to Romeo. What's in a (sur) name?

However, the person releasing the real estate data was no Juliet and the names released were no roses.

I'm not sure if it was a slip of the tongue or a deliberate move when releasing the surnames, that the word "Chinese buyers" - rather than "off-shore buyers" - was used. Nevertheless it has created a storm rather than a solution.

One of the reasons is that hard-working migrants face immense challenges and glass ceilings during their struggle to settle successfully in a new country. The general perception on the other hand is that they get more than they lose by moving to a new country.


However, every hard-working migrant is sensitive and feels hurt if - rather than acknowledging his/her contributions - he or she is named and blamed for the ills facing the country from time to time.

Hard-working permanent resident New Zealand Chinese, who now own houses in New Zealand, feel hurt and singled-out by the release of the data.

The heated housing market has been catching headlines for long time now without any substantive solutions. While the quick fix suggestions and the blame game has been on, one is forced to sit back and ponder as to what all the hoopla is really about.

There is nothing extraordinary that is happening in Auckland housing market which is exceptional from the other parts of the world. Rising property prices is actually a world phenomenon.

Take any place, for example, whether a developed country like USA and Canada or emerging economies like India and China. Each one of these countries have got cities and regions that attract people to it for various reasons. Therefore the prices in some of those cities are higher than the rest of the towns. The similar trend is catching up between Auckland and rest of the parts of New Zealand.

With globalisation, most of the countries encourage foreign direct investment (FDI).
But no country wishes to break the colonial ties of one country then only to be under another colonial landlord - especially when the debate on changing its flag is still ripe.

Therefore, every country has the right to restrict foreign buyers while keeping in mind it's trading advantages and disadvantages. However, every deal has some give and takes. There is no free lunch. It may be worth weighing the economic benefits too before restricting or blaming a particular country or ethnicity.

Why find scapegoats (without definite data) when the fact is that it's the lack of long-term planning, policy and inaction of those at the helm of affairs which has contributed to the current housing shortage. The issue of surnames has actually taken the heat off the real perpetrators of these crisis.


History tells us that it's not only the housing sector but it happens in other areas of policy from time to time. Even now, since everyone's attention is embroiled in the housing market debate, many in charge of other sectors will be amused and slacking rather than planning ahead. They may wake up to a new crisis only when another chilling truth dawns upon them. Only to find another scapegoat, most likely the different sounding names and surnames.

High migration should again not be seen as a negative factor in the larger scheme of things. New Zealand population is ageing and is likely to affect its productivity while increasing pressure on the health sector. Therefore a streamlined intake is a must but only after a proper research and identification of long term skills shortage. Those in pipeline through our Universities to fill these specific gaps will have to be included in this assessment of long term shortage so that later it does not eventuate into job crisis.

Continuing high migration may create further shortage of housing but there are solutions. However, these solutions should come from those that are tasked and paid for resolving it. Or should we say for not creating it in the first place.

Restricting the off shore buyers might only be a drop in the ocean. But first we need to set our own house in order by finding creative and innovative solutions to the housing shortage rather than speculative blaming.

Until New Zealand introduces bureaucratic accountability it will continue to be bogged down by the hit and trial efforts of its mediocre. Can we afford not to have effective long term plans & policies based on research? It is high time that those drawing hefty salaries off the tax payer's money are required to show real turn around. After all return on investment is the norm.

Gurbrinder Aulakh is a lawyer and deputy chair of Auckland Regional Migrant Services. Views expressed here are his own.