With boring predictability, New Zealand First has again played the race card. Presumably because it wouldn't look too good for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to be attacking Asian immigration when we are about to sign a free-trade agreement with China, deputy leader Peter Brown must have been delegated the task to try to kick-start the party's flagging poll ratings this election year.
Nothing galvanises New Zealand First's rednecks quite like a rollicking attack on immigrants.
Echoing the infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech by British politician Enoch Powell back in the 60s, Brown wailed that we would soon be swamped by Asians who, he claims, refuse to integrate into New Zealand society. By 2026 they could make up 16 per cent of the population and number more than 400,000.
Brown, an immigrant himself, was appalled by the prospect of this "Yellow Peril". What of the poor Maori, he wondered ingenuously, who would be in danger of being out-numbered by Asians? His crocodile tears for Maori might be more believable if he hadn't gone on to say there's nothing wrong with migration, it's just Asians in those kind of numbers weren't the right sort of migrants. Brown seemed to have no problem with solid British stock, or anyone who is white. Curiously, he denied this was racist.
His main complaints were that Asians clustered together in some suburbs of Auckland, didn't have full command of the English language, didn't "share our values", and wouldn't "integrate".
Strangers in a strange land, virtually all migrant groups initially cluster together, taking comfort from having nearby people of a similar background to their own.
In fact, Brown might like to focus on Auckland's East Coast Bays, where migrants from Southern Africa are clustered. In this little Transvaal by the sea, many people stubbornly insist on speaking Afrikaans at home. Worse, they don't share our values - the swine have been known to wear green footie jerseys and cheer for South Africa in the World Cup.
By Brown's standards they should be rounded up and shipped back to where they came from. Except, of course, they are acceptably white.
I can remember the first generation of Samoans to migrate here in the 50s and 60s. They clung to their language, lived together in suburbs like Grey Lynn and didn't share quite the same values as New Zealanders. For example, they went in droves to church on Sundays.
The second and third generation Samoans are far more "integrated" into New Zealand, sharing our vices, living all over the country, and skipping church.
They do play better football than Pakeha but apart from those sorts of helpful differences, the locally born Samoans are pretty much like the rest of us.
Brown also seems confused about what "integration" actually means. When I spoke to him he insisted it meant that migrants needed to become us. They should be Kiwi clones. I pointed out that his definition was really assimilation, a policy long-abandoned by New Zealand governments in favour of having a rich multi-cultural society in which various racial and ethnic groups exist side by side.
He also seemed incapable of differentiating between Asian nationalities. Culturally, a Korean is different from a Han Chinese, who is different from a Japanese who differs greatly from a Vietnamese. Brown seemed to lump them all together in one evil ethnic rice ball of doom.
My experience of New Zealand-born Chinese, whose parents and grandparents came here many years ago, is that they are fully "integrated" to a level at which even Brown would approve. Compared with their hardworking ancestors, they are now just as slack as the rest of us.
Brown is trapped in his own ethnic background. He points to Britain and the rise of Islam there, warning that could happen here as alien cultures and religions overwhelm our own. But I cannot really see there is likely to be a surge in radical Buddhism, militant Confucianism, violent Taoism, or virulent agnosticism.
Britain has serious racial issues because, for the past 50 years, people like Brown have failed to reach out to acknowledge or embrace these new communities.
In condemning Brown as a racist, United Future leader Peter Dunne raises a good point. New Zealand is in danger of making a similar mistake to Britain, inviting migrants to this country but doing little to ease their entry into our society so that they find it harder to integrate.
I hope by 2026 various Asian ethnicities are 16 per cent of the New Zealand population. We will be a culturally and materially wealthier nation for it.