Are you a tourist or intending migrant seriously considering New Zealand as a destination?
You may like to think again when you read about the way some of the NZ public reacted to the news that Asian voters chose New Zealand as World’s Best Luxury Destination for 2013 in the Chinese Luxury Travel Awards.
According to an article published in The Herald
“New Zealand’s recognition as a luxury destination by Chinese travellers will boost the country’s profile as a “high-quality visitor destination”, a tourism industry head says.
Auckland Airport was also crowned the World’s Best Airport, while Whare Kea Lodge in Wanaka was named the Best Asia-Pacific Boutique Hotel, and Queenstown Millbrook was named the Best Asia-Pacific Golf Course.
The awards are decided by members of the Shanghai Travellers Club…” more here
New Zealand’s prime minister and minister of tourism, John Key, was quick to claim the victory on his Facebook page. Unfortunately his post was soon marred by the anti-Asian xenophobia that is so prevalent in New Zealand.
Comments left by the Kiwi public, some of whom confused migration with tourism, included
Jesse Amber Wood “I just wish we weren’t handing citizenships out like candy. Its hard enough for kiwis to find jobs and housing w/o the influx of foreigners.”
Whilst a South African migrant pitched in with her perspective of being a “foreigner” in New Zealand
Madeleine Botha “I have just read the threads, some very uninformed people indeed. My goodness some of you really dont know what you have to go through and leave behind to eventually become a NZ citizen. Our family works hard, we bought a home, we contribute to the NZ economy and we pay our taxes. We certainly do not get anything for free and I take great exception in being classed as a second rate human being for being an immigrant to NZ.”
Feeling were running high about China’s influence in New Zealand
Corey Elliman “It’s to easy for the. Chinese to Kum here and buy our land and houses but yet we go over to china and its the total opposite . It shud be harder for foreigners to establish them selfs here there barley enuf homes for us to live in”
With the inevitable “go home Asians” barb
Angelique Fitzgerald “Too bad they don’t go home once they come to New Zealand.”
Colin Menzies Let the good times roll! Well done John Key. The worlds biggest and richest middle class ready to open their wallets in NZ
New Zealand (Aotearoa in Māori) is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island) and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some 1,500 kilometres (900 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Due to its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long isolation New Zealand developed a distinctive fauna dominated by birds, many of which became extinct after the arrival of humans and introduced mammals. With a mild maritime climate, the land was mostly covered in forest. The country’s varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks owe much to the uplift of land and volcanic eruptions caused by the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plates clashing underfoot.
The majority of New Zealand’s population is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and non-Māori Polynesians. English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages, with English predominant. Much of New Zealand’s culture is derived from Māori and early British settlers.
This was in today’s edition of the New Zealand Herald:
“A Syrian job applicant was told he should change his name to something more Kiwi because conservative southerners would think twice about working with him.
The Syrian, a 22-year-old Auckland-based man with a civil engineering degree, was applying for a graduate position within architectural business GM Designs of Invercargill…” read more here
Is this still happening in New Zealand? we’ve been blogging about this issue for years, read our blog from 2010 - Migrants Changing Names to Get Jobs and read the story of Yik Kun Heng, who was unable to find a job because of his Chinese sounding name. Or read Skilled Migrants Drive Taxis to Survive
Surely by now New Zealand should’ve got itself out of the dark ages, well last century at least, and got on top of workplace equality regardless of race. Is it really that hard?
Irishmen are ok
During an email exchange seen by the Herald, company boss Graeme McMillan asked for a photograph, his country of origin and how long he had lived here. When the applicant asked why, Mr McMillan said: “Unfortunately any southern NZer client … would possibly think twice about dealing with anyone with a Middle Eastern name.”
He said the applicant should consider changing his name to “break down such a disadvantage.
“I offered the placement to an Irish engineer due to his cultural similarity to that of NZers and their acceptance by most Southerners, as the province was originally settled by Irish and Scottish 120 years ago.”
Ouch, old stereotypes die hard.
The Herald published an abridged and edited version of Graeme McMillan’s email to the Syrian applicant:
“Any employer wants to understand your background … including manners and cultural acceptance irrespective of any academic credentials.
“Unfortunately any southern NZer client … would possibly think twice about dealing with anyone with a Middle Eastern name. You may even take a Kiwi name to break down such a disadvantage … it is a major drawback. I offered the placement to an Irish engineer due to his cultural similarity and acceptance by most Southerners.”
We think the Syrian job seeker should consider changing his country to somewhere where discrimination does not go unchallenged, and where he is less likely to have to drive a taxi to make a living.
Have you experienced similar discrimination? we’d love to hear from you.
Regardless of your race, if you’re thinking about applying for work in New Zealand you may find the following blog invaluable:
Edward Gay in The Herald is telling the story of a graduate who was allegedly told to by the Department of Work and Income ( WINZ) to remove her degree and experience from her CV if she wanted to find short term work… lots more here
Are all Kiwis given a fair go? A Human Rights Commission report on structural discrimination (institutional racism) in public services says they are not.
The report finds strong, consistent evidence that structural discrimination is a real and ongoing issue in New Zealand. The report was launched at the New Zealand Diversity Forum on Monday at the Aotea Centre, Auckland.
“Māori, Pacific peoples and ethnic communities are disadvantaged by a one-size-fits-all model of provision,” says Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres. “Put simply, Māori, Pacific peoples and ethnic communities are not getting a fair go in New Zealand’s justice, health and education systems.”
“Addressing structural discrimination within a system or organisation will mean questioning the ways things are being done and have been done. The evidence is that a monocultural approach continues to fail Māori, Pacific, and ethnic communities.”
Studies show that specific targeted programmes have the greatest impact on improving unequal outcomes. Unfortunately, negative political opinion is sometimes used to erode small gains: programmes are shut down after only a few years’ implementation; targeted funding is cut; and a refusal to see inequality in terms of ethnicity, despite evidence to the contrary, drives policy development. It is important that political backlash does not drive policy formation at the expense of the rights and needs of all New Zealand’s communities.
“A fair go for all is possible,” said Mr de Bres. “What do we have to lose by thinking differently?”
Structural Discrimination: a fair go for all?
While there have been many attempts to eliminate the major ethnic inequalities in health, education and other economic and social measures, these inequalities persist. The Human Rights Commission has published a discussion paper that looks at the part that structural discrimination or institutional racism may play in perpetuating inequalities. The paper also outlines government initiatives with potential to achieve systemic change.
The paper looks at structural discrimination in health, justice, education, the economic system and the public service. It identifies levers within the Government’s influence – for example, how medical staff and educators operate within these systems – while also examining the values these systems are based upon and whether the government is doing enough to address inequalities. (source)
A copy of the report may be found HERE
Watch this video about a very personable New Zealand man of Malaysian descent, Yik Kun Heng, who is unable to find a job because of his Chinese sounding name.
Racism is the “ugly face of racism in New Zealand today” and kiwis still have a lot to learn about personal race relations”
All of his classmates with European sounding names have secured good jobs, but 170 job applications and three University degrees later, he’s been advised by his careers officer to change his name to something English sounding like “John” if he wants to do the same.
Yik has refused to do this, having a strong sense of personal identity and integrity.
The only work he’s been able to find is basic admin support for a Telco – far removed from his post graduate qualifications in political science. He is so ‘fed up’ that he has decided to go back to Asia after calling New Zealand home for the last 22 years, another talented and skilled migrant who may’ve contributed so much will be lost to New Zealand. No wonder the country is being left behind.
When asked what he will tell people from abroad about New Zealand, he says:
“New Zealand is an amazing country, BUT in terms of the employment side they have to be really prepared to make the tough decisions on how much they’re willing to give up or how much they’re willing to sell because of the racism“
Emigrating to New Zealand from an Asian country, or planning to study there with a view to applying for residency when you graduate? This video is for you.
Video Link - Are New Zealand Employers Racist?
Prof. Paul Spoonley, mentionedin our other blog below, also appears in the studio discussion in the video. He is “Regional Director (Auckland) and Research Director for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University.
He is project leader for the FRST-funded Integration of Immigrants Programme. He is past Chair of the Management Group for the Building Research Capability in the Social Sciences (BRCSS) Network. He is the author or editor of 25 books on topics such as ethnic relations and identity, political extremism and employment.” source
Human Rights Commission
The Human Rights Commission receives, on average, 472 complaints about racial discrimination, incitement and harassment each year.
Race complaints regarding employment are the most frequent and Asians are the most common target.
Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said if you marginalise a community you are only hurting yourself.
“If people are employed below their level of qualifications then that is a loss to the economy. If they’re not employed at all, that is a loss to the economy.” source
You may also be interested in our other blog:
Migrants Changing Names To Get Jobs (April 2010)
Lincoln Tan has written another excellent article about the problems that migrants are having finding work in New Zealand during the present tough economic climate.
According to Mr Tan an academic says that businesses often eliminate Asian sounding applicants at a very early stage in the interview selection process.
Surely that is racial discrimination?:
“Desperate job-seeking Asians are not only taking on Anglicised first names but also officially ditching their traditional surnames for European-sounding ones in the hope that will help them find work in New Zealand.
One Chinese woman even changed her name to Brenda Jones in an attempt to get a job interview in the tough economic climate.
About 21,000, or 9.2 per cent, of the Asian population are without jobs, and experts say their foreign-sounding names have contributed to their unemployment woes.
Massey University researcher Paul Spoonley says New Zealand employers, especially in small and medium-sized businesses, tend to eliminate Asian applicants very early in the process through surname discrimination…”
“[A migrant] who changed her surname from Teoh to May with an English first name, said a job interviewer at Work and Income advised her to do so.
She told me that with an Asian surname, employers will automatically think that I cannot speak English,” said Miss May, a former retail manager.
A University of Auckland School of Business survey in 2005 found anti-Asian discrimination to be significant among employers.
It found that even without immigration status consideration, having a Chinese or Indian name significantly raised chances of being considered unsuitable…”
But migrants have to pass English Language tests before being granted work visas so where does this ‘perception’ come from that they can’t speak English, or is there another reason for weeding out people… ?