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Thread: Asians in NZ

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Asians in NZ

    Asians in NZ subjected to racism, study finds

    14.09.05 1.00pm


    Many Asians living in New Zealand are subjected to some form of racism, a new study has found. The Asia New Zealand Foundation report, Engaging Asian Communities in New Zealand, revealed the most common form of racism was verbal abuse and rude gestures, often by teenagers or children.

    Overt racism included damage to cars identifiable as Asian-owned, having bottles or stones thrown at them, and being mocked for poor pronunciation.

    Asia New Zealand's research director, Dr Rebecca Foley, said the main purpose of the research was to look at ways that engagement between various Asian communities and other communities happened -- "or does not happen, as the case may be". "It is disturbing that most participants in the research had experienced some form of racism," she said.

    "But at the same time, it is heartening that there are so many private and public agencies offering a wide variety of programmes that migrants find useful." The report's authors -- Terry McGrath, Dr John Pickering, Dr Hilary Smith and Dr Andrew Butcher -- based their study on 17 focus groups held with 94 participants from a range of Asian communities.

    Many participants reported being the victims of more "subtle" types of racism. In employment, for instance, some felt they missed out on jobs and promotions because of their ethnicity, and workmates pretended not to understand them or patronised them.

    Some Asians reported being deliberately misunderstood in shops, cafes or a supermarket "in order to humiliate", being snubbed by other mothers in schools when greeting their children and being avoided in public places, like a swimming pool.

    Wellington Chinese Association president Steven Young said he was "not surprised" by the report's findings, but it was disappointing for new migrants to find themselves not wholly accepted.

    "Racism is not so much a problem for Asian New Zealanders who have grown up here and gone through the school system and have Kiwi speech patterns," he said.

    "But with the larger influxes of migrants in recent years, particularly into areas which haven't traditionally seen many migrants, prejudice has come to the fore."

    Some people also felt threatened by the way in which these new migrants were often highly skilled and moving out of "more traditional roles" into professional positions in society, he said. Dr Foley said the report went beyond research on what problems Asian migrants face and examined what worked in terms of engaging with the host community.

    There was no "silver bullet" programme in existence but the research would help people take a wider view of what was needed to form a socially cohesive society, she said. There were 17 focus groups, made up of a range of nationalities, including Chinese, Singaporean, Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Sri Lankan and Indian.

    - NZPA

  2. #2
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    Very interesting that! Good post....

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    It's an interesting one, and I've learned that NZ is really quite unique in a lot of ways in this respect. Geographically, NZ is an South Pacific island, far closer to Asia than it is to Europe, yet because of the huge impact of European colonisation / invasion, so many people here regard 'white NZ' as 'normal', and the Asians as the new invaders. Yet geographically it makes perfect sense that a lot of Asian (and Pacific Island) people would want to come and settle here. My impression from talking, especially to older kiwis of european descent, is that they feel very deeply that NZ is somehow still part of Europe (or even of the UK) - it just happens to be 12000m miles away on the other side of the world. It's very evident in the advertising of products here - anything that purports to be of high quality tends to have some claim to being of "European design" or somesuch. But the UK has pretty much cut NZ loose in terms of trade etc, so they have to look at the Asian markets to survive. So I guess the fact that their little corner of England-on-Pacific is changing rapidly scares a lot of people, and it comes out as hostility to Asian people that come here - and don't choose to adopt kiwi ways of living. I guess there is a bit of an island mentality here too - pretty narrow minded and closed off to incomers sometimes, especially ones that look / talk / eat / work / drive differently. And the reference to young people was interesting - I don't think there is a more conservative-minded groups anywhere than teenagers - hopefully they will mellow as they get a bit older and realise there is a whole world outside their town / NZ!!

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    I caught a programme on telly a while back about how new DNA research seems to be showing that the Maori race originated in Taiwan! Hmmm... doesn't THAT put a new spin on things

    http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s823810.htm

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    Theres a social experiment show on TV here at the moment, where they get people to live their lives for a day with a disability/change of race to see how folks react to them.

    I only saw the one where they got two "white" folks and did them up as a an Iraqi male asylum seeker, and a chinese girl. they both did really well in their performances for the day, the girls best mate was even fooled. However they did find that they were treated differently, the girl found that shops did not come straight over and offer to help like they normally would, and found she was regularly ignored throughout her asian day. The guy found a similar thing, places he knew had jobs to offer (he had asked the day before) he went in as Iraqi and mysteriously the jobs had gone.....

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    Yeah Sal, that was / is a great series - this weeks episode was two people who had to survive being disabled (one blind, one in wheelchair)...

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    Quote Originally Posted by KiwiB
    Asians in NZ subjected to racism, study finds
    That's really interesting, and sad. Articles like this tend to intensify my fears of "Oh God, I'm moving to an isolated backwater full of bigots."

    But then, how different is it from the US? Asians and Asian-Americans here don't get the brunt of racism hurled at immigrants (although I'm sure they get some), mostly because they are thought of the model minority, as productive members of society living the American dream of upward mobility. Other immigrants are not so lucky, not to mention the minority native sons and daughters who are thoroughly oppressed, impoverished and discounted (cf. government Hurricane Katrina relief efforts or lack thereof). So which country is the isolated backwater here?

    OK, off my soapbox.

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    Trying to take a bit of a different slant on this, taking the issue of race away and looking at it from 2 different perspectives, one of them being kids. if someone of european caucasian descent is in anyway out of the ordinary, eg. redhaired, stammers/stutters, smells, is short or very tall, then the kids will tease/torment them about it, they will get called names and on occasion be very hurt by this behaviour. but thats kids being kids unfortunately. As soon as 'race' enters the equation its regarded as racist but they are doing the same sort of thing that they have been doing to caucasian kids and just picking up on the differences.

    When it comes to conversing with someone who speaks another language then yes, sometimes it is very hard to understand what they mean, we have had lots of asians in the shop hiring skis or snowboards and on several occasions it has been extremely difficult to understand what is required although they are speaking English. It makes me feel helpless and embarassed for them as if its my inability to interpret what they are saying that is at fault and thats with me knowing the subject they are talking about. We have had similar situations here at the backpackers too, but with Europeans as well as asians, and again I end up feeling guilty that I am having trouble understanding what is being said, but as we have so far had 33 different nationalities through not sure what language I should have learnt to deal with the situation. I think this embarassment is a factor in people appearing to ignore them. There is no excuse for adult people to take the micky out of them, thats just ignorance on their part.

    I have no doubt that this will upset someone on the forum but sometimes it seems as if it would best to not keep putting these things in the national press as it always seems to lead to even more copycat racist behaviour, especially for a lot of people who see others actions as justification for their own behaviour.

  9. #9
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    I tend to agree with Veronica.

    I think racism is no worse here than in any other country in the world, I am sure there is a degree of racism to be found even in asian countries. Most of the time no malice is intended, it is just an impatience/ reluctance to deal with other peoples peculiarities, which naturally makes those people feel bad.

    I don't actually know if that should be called "racism" or not. I think it is more likely to be "tribalism" more than anything else. Any community, no matter what size, will feel less generously inclined to those not of that community, either thru their feeling nervous or embarrassed at having to deal with differences in speech/behavious etc. I dunno.

    There certainly has been a very large influx of immigration from Asia in the last decade or so, this wave of migrants has largely settled in the Auckland area, and so has had a definite and highly noticable impact on the make up of the various communities up there, leading to exasperation and frustration by those already there.

    This is not helped by political twerps trying to cash in on this feeling of people be swamped by foreigners, politicians such as Winston Peters, the leader in the anti-asian immigration group. He has exploited peoples fears of outsiders very nicely thank you, although with any luck, this election he will be out of parliament.

    You have to remember, NZ is a small country, mostly made up of small-town communities, largely white/british decent and maori. The arrival of a large number of people of a new culture will naturally cause concern, dissent and all sorts of other perfectly normal human reactions.

    Is there any racism to the degree of cross burning, race riots etc? Certainly not! I suspect the "racism" shown to asians is not a personal one, but a general one. Comments like "bloody asians, they ALWAYS drive so slow!" etc are everywhere, but not meaning of course Joe Yee, the bloke from the sales department at work whose BBQ you went to last week, He is a kiwi, HE is not asian....

    As far as racist behaviour goes, hmmmm... I tihnk Kiwis are perhaps less racist than many other countries. One example I know of thru personal experience is enlightening, and that is the reaction of the Solomon Islanders to the RAMSI forces over there. RAMSI (regional assistance mission to the Solomon Islands) was the group sent in from around the pacific, to help restore law and order in the Solomon Islands.
    Military folks have left now, however police from mainly Aussie and NZ are still there and likely to remain so for the next decade or so. From talking to the solomon islanders themselves, the Kiwis are far more popular than the Aussies. Why? Because the aussie cops have a definite attitude problem when dealing with the Solomon Islanders, which really annoys the locals. Kiwi cops though, being used to a much more racially diverse mix of people than aussies are, fit in much better over there.
    This is great for me, because everyone from waiters to taxi drivers to sales people all react very positively when they find out you're a Kiwi, it is pretty funny seeing the reaction this causes to aussie tourists when they see it!

    Anyhow. Off the point slightly perhaps. There really is no big problem with Asians in NZ, honestly. It is the bloody whingeing pommie b@stards that really annoy us...., oh, and the loud, rude, yanks. And the South Africans. And the Dutch! Cripes..... racism or tribalism?

    cheers, Stu.

  10. #10
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    Veronica, I have to agree with you completely. On the subject of children, they can be very evil little critters. They can be as mean as they can be to a 'normal' white child with teasing, but as soon as they even pass comment on a local child with a scarf, that is then deemed far more unacceptable and stopped, even it it's good natured. A friend of ours passed comment on a situation she had been in. In a supermarket, a black guy was serving at the bakery and her 2 year old daughter called him a chocolate man. There was no malice at all, just an observation that he was not her standard colour. He laughed, struck up a conversation and all was OK . However, the same child also asked mum in another shop why the man's hair was green, and sticking up on end! With hindsight, the green haired man could have turned very nasty if you went by stereotypes, and you wouldn't expect a mature happy looking shop assistant to turn openly hostile to a toddler. However, she was far more worried about upsetting a black guy about the colour of his skin, which is normal and seen everywhere, rather than a rough looking lout who was 'out to shock' with his hair.

    A sad indication of today's society, I think.

    Emily

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