Ignorance about New Zealand culture

There’s a common mistake made about New Zealand culture in relation to immigration – that immigrants should “accept our culture” or “go back home”.

Two mistakes actually – some immigrants don’t have homes to go back to, or don’t have safe homes to go back to.

But some seem to think that their culture represents New Zealand culture and everyone should do and be the same.That’s nonsense. There are a wide range of cultures co-existing and intermingling in New Zealand and there always have been.

“Go back home” came up in a spat between MPs in Parliament this week. Curwen Ares Rolinson (young NZ First activist) has  acknowledged the damage of Mark’s comments in a post at The Daily Blog – On Ron Mark, Melissa Lee, and Public Holidays in Korea.

Now for the record, I wouldn’t have spoken as Ron Mark did. I can see how such a statement could easily be misconstrued and has the real potential to make members of migrant communities who *have* chosen to make New Zealand their home – and work for the betterment thereof – feel unwelcome.

But he also defended Mark and supported NZ First’s divisive tactics.

In any case, while I might disagree with the wording used in the bridging phrase, I can nevertheless easily see why Ron would have cited a list of comparable conditions (in this case, Korean national holidays) designed to demonstrate that Lee’s “as a migrant” assertions about New Zealand’s status relative to other countries were spurious.

The “go back to Korea” line was a poor choice of set-up for this, and there are certainly other ways Ron could have lead into talking about that part of Lee’s speech … but I make no apology for New Zealand First harbouring legitimate concerns as to how this legislation might affect and undermine the rights and protections of the ordinary Kiwi worker.

A commneter agreed with Mark. Pietrad:

I agree with the writer and with Ron Mark. The truth of the matter is that NZ is our home and if someone visits and doesn’t like the way we do things, then they need to accept our culture or go live somewhere else that operates to their satisfaction. I especially feel this to be the case with people whose religion requires them to be always masked in public.

I don’t recall seeing any religious masking. The garb of nuns or Brethren or Muslims is not my thing but it’s their choice (hopefully) what they wear.

I see what I think are far worse fully clothed sights from youth ‘fashion’ statements. I find gang regalia more distasteful than religious clothing. I’d rather see many of the the overuse of tattoos covered up and face piercings look much worse to me than a scarfed head.

This is NOT part of our much more open culture and those people need to accept being un-masked is how we are, or GO and LIVE WHERE THAT SORT OF BEHAVIOR IS THE NORM. That’s not to judge it wrong but it is an example of such a different culture and one which essentially exists in conflict with ours. Would the NZ public find it acceptable if immigrants came from a culture where they wore NO clothes? ‘Go back where you came from’ would be a much more common demand. ‘When in Rome …..”

Is Pietrad suggesting that anyone not complying with the Kiwi cuklture of a black singlet, shorts and gumboots should ‘Go back where you came from’?

People stating that people who don’t fit in with “our culture” shoukld bugger off never seem to say what specific Kiwi culture they want everyone here to comply with. There’s a vast array of cultures on display around New Zealand.

It would be awful of everyone was a clone of Pietron or Ron Mark.

I think people like this have as much right to choose their attire in New Zealand as I do:

Leave a comment


  1. Pete… yeah Mark went to far. But here is a contra set of arguments to your post.

    The term “go back where you came from” is a pretty common one and frankly it has its place.
    Saying you can’t use it is a bit anti free speech don’t you think?

    Migrants bring something of their home culture with them, but if they spend a lot of time lecturing residents they will get push back. Migrants do have a responsibility to fit in with local social mores… my father had to when he came here in the 1950’s in the great Dutch post war migration wave

    Maybe if people framed their criticism a bit better e.g. “We could do this thing this way and these are the benefits”, instead of the oft used “In my country……” then push back wouldn’t happen in the Ron Mark way. The “In my country” statement just puts peoples backs up straight away, indicates you don’t see yourself as part of the host country i.e. you make yourself the Other and is just a tad condescending. If you frame your speech in an attacking way you will generally get bite back.

    And if you attack the host countries cultural attitudes – say things like being relaxed or liking a beer or indulging in sport as a religion [you know like NZ] – then Go home will be a riposte. Its a two way street

    • “Saying you can’t use it is a bit anti free speech don’t you think?”

      I didn’t say you can’t use it.

      I’m saying that it can be a shit thing to say to immigrants. It’s not an argument, it’s a lazy and sometimes nasty insult.

      I’ve been told (generally) that unless I accept Maori culture and some Maori views on the Treaty of Waitangi then I should go back to where I came from. That’s as bad. Especially considering at least some of our ancestry of all of us came from somewhere else.

    • If a Maori extremist told you to go back to where you came from what would you think and feel?

      • The accept Maori thing Pete is a subtly different thing, from what the discussion on Marks comments are about.

        Britain conquered NZ and became the dominant culture. It is a plus mark that the British allowed Maori to retain their culture, language etc. Some will argue they tried to destroy it, the classic line is strapped for speaking Te Reo in schools. That may have been true, but no one was stopping Te Reo in the whares and on the Marae so its a weak line of argument. Maori culture is living and dying by its utility to its people

        Radical Maori use the go home taunt as an attempt to reassert dominance. And I just tell them to suck it up – they can use that line all they want. Whilst I’m first generation, I’m a born and bred kiwi and I’m going nowhere. NZ is in my soul. The go home thing just bounces off.

        There is a major difference between a conquest and allowing immigrants to come into a country which is what Mr Marks comments are about and what your post is about no?

        I know some Maori are unhappy but judging by the inter marriage and across race friendships which are so common in NZ, you would have to say radical Maori are in a pretty small minority.

        • why bother

           /  8th November 2015

          Well said Dave and very true
          I have been called a radical Maori, sometimes!

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  8th November 2015

    In a family there is going to be strife if you don’t share a lot of common values. It’s the same for a nation. The issue is not the clothing, but the beliefs and practices associated with it which are in deep conflict with our values.

    I don’t care if you wear a hijab but I do care if you support female subjugation, forced marriages, religious intolerance, extremism, etc. One is seen as as a symbol for the other.

    • To a lesser extent nuns could also be seen as related to female subjugation, forced marriages (or enforced non-marriages), religious intolerance, but perhaps less on the extremism.

      • kiwi guy

         /  8th November 2015

        No way, they volunteer into that.

        In Muslim countries women who don’t cover up are whores, get spat at on the street and a whole lot worse.

        • jamie

           /  8th November 2015

          Frankly kiwi_guy that sounds like exactly the sort of attitude you regularly display toward women in your comments. I think your ideology is much closer to the repressive aspects of Islam that you probably care to recognise.

      • Missy

         /  8th November 2015

        Pete, that is rubbish. A Nun is a woman who makes a choice and can leave freely with no consequences, there is nothing in being a nun that is female subjugation, unless you think being a Catholic priest is akin to male subjugation (enforced non-marriages, religious intolerance). Also, I have yet to hear of a man that rules over a convent, or order of nuns, as far as I am aware it is usually another nun, so I am not sure where you get the idea a nun is related to female subjugation.

        Forced marriages in South Asian and Middle Eastern countries and cultures is usually done at the behest of the man in the family, and involves young girls (some as young as 8 or 9), and if they try to leave, at best they are ostracised, at worse killed.

        Your comparison is completely off the mark.

  3. Zedd

     /  8th November 2015

    One thing I’ve heard astronauts say, after flying high above the earth: ‘There are NO lines’ (as we see on most maps). We create these division lines !
    “Form ONE planet, One race.. the HUMAN race” 🙂

    • kiwi guy

       /  8th November 2015

      I’m sure glad we have a division line with Saudi Arabia:

      Sure am happy this place is far away from us:

    • kiwi guy

       /  8th November 2015

      “Form ONE planet, One race.. the HUMAN race”

  4. kiwi guy

     /  8th November 2015

    Migrants are more than happy to come here and then use our freedoms to complain they we are not respecting their rich and diverse (*Trademark) customs.

    Meanwhile they do and say nothing or very little about what goes on in their home countries – female genital mutilation, honour killings and general treating human beings like insects stuff.


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