Winston Peters put the boot into immigration again during the weekend. He says we're allowing too many unskilled workers in. He wants to slash immigration to 10,000, which is madness.

So is Labour's policy of cutting it back by tens of thousands.

Do that, and you'll bring our entire service sector to its knees.

Yes, the student visa system is flawed and needs an overhaul, but politicians like Peters need to check their rhetoric. Immigration is the issue here, not immigrants.


It's the policy, not the people. And it got me thinking about the number of immigrants in my life.

Let me take you through some of them:

My personal trainer is an Australian.

The physiotherapist I recommended to my husband is British.

A woman who's counsel I seek on anything to do with the corporate world is Irish.

The man who serves me every week when I fill up with petrol is Indian.

This programme's producer is German.

I ran some tests with a running specialist last week. He's British.


The man who gives me the best manicure I've ever had is Vietnamese.

The cafe I go to regularly because the service and the food is the best in town, is owned and run by a beautiful couple. They're Chinese.

My best friends are a hotch-potch of Kiwis, Brits and Samoans.

The woman who makes my favourite smoothie is Bangladeshi.

My son's teacher is Canadian.

I've finally found the best European-style bread you could ever hope to eat and it's at a bakery owned and run by Indians.

My dentist employs a number of assistants who are foreigners, including two Americans.

My hygienist is Indian.

In my gym, at any given time I am surrounded by Kiwis, Brits, South Africans, Asians, and Middle Easterners.

My son's best friends at school are Kiwi, Chinese, Croatian, South Korean, and British.

A woman whose wisdom I seek on issues involving health and wellbeing is Greek.

My banking consultant is Chinese.

I had some new carpet put down recently. I spoke to an expert on New Zealand wool carpets. He was British.

I had some plastering done in my home too. The finish was flawless. The plasterers were Thai.

I can't remember where the tilers were from. Eastern bloc. Possibly Slovakian, I think. I didn't get to know them because they were so quick and efficient. They were in and out and did a beautiful job.

Our mechanic is British.

Oh, and my husband is South African.

So, we are an immigrant nation and we have low unemployment. If you're with Peters on this issue and truly believe we can slash immigration to 10,000 and the country will still function, you're mistaken.

Queenstown, for a start, couldn't function without it's seasonal, foreign workers.

Yes, we're suffering some harsh growing pains right now. Yes, we've dropped the ball when it comes to housing, and developing this country's infrastructure. The Government tells us they're addressing this. Are they? Well, we'll see.

But we need to be careful about driving a wedge between New Zealanders and those who want to become New Zealanders. Immigration is the challenging issue here: It's the policy, not the people.

Rachel Smalley hosts Early Edition on Newstalk ZB