Which set of values does New Zealand First want migrants and refugees to this country sign up to?

Are they the values of a South Canterbury farmer? A primary school child in Palmerston North? A prisoner in Auckland? A chief executive in Wellington? A kaumātua in Whanganui?

A member of Parliament?

The Respecting New Zealand Values bill, pitched at NZ First's party convention over the weekend by MP Clayton Mitchell, would require refuges and migrants to sign up and agree to respect "New Zealand values" if they are to be allowed here.


The bill garnered enough support among the party to be moved up to the party caucus to consider.

So, what are these supposed New Zealand values?

Gender equality, religious freedom, New Zealand law, a fair go, respect of sexual preferences and the legality of alcohol are some which have been mentioned by NZ First's people.

What aren't they?

According to according to Mitchell, they're things like bigotry, racism and, without a hint of irony, xenophobia.

Whether NZ First believes it not, these are fairly universally held beliefs and why many people want to come to New Zealand in the first place.

And, New Zealand already has a collective set of values - they're called laws – which migrants are subject to, just like any New Zealand-born citizen.

This proposed bill can be written off as unnecessary but it's also dangerous.


It suggests migrants and refuges don't come here with good values and casts them as different and a threat needing control.

It has a sense of cultural superiority; an inherent good in "New Zealand values" and an inferior bad in the other.

What about the positive values migrants and refuges can bring with them and impart of those already here?

New Zealand is a country made up of 4.7 million people. It's a country that, outside what is protected by law, allows for 4.7 million different sets of values – and counting.

That's what we should all value.