Hostility to immigrants in NZ

has written an awful account of hostility and abuse experienced as a child of immigrants to New Zealand.

The Spinoff: ‘I fear for the future of my family’: A mother of mixed-raced children on why she’s worried about raising them in New Zealand

What is it like to raise your children in a country where people are openly hostile to you because of your race? Natasha Johnson looks back on her own childhood experiences of racism and speaks directly to people of colour living in Aotearoa.

I’m sure this will be uncomfortable reading for some, but Natasha’s words will likely resonate with many, many people. And there’s the issue. We need to look at racism in New Zealand with eyes wide open. Not just for us now, but for our children. What kind of New Zealand will they grow up in? – Emily Writes, Spinoff Parents editor.

This is shameful for a country that at times makes claims to be a tolerant society built on immigration.

Natasha happens to have come from India, but similar insidious attacks happen to immigrants from a wide range of countries, including Pacific Islands, African countries and European countries.

I would love to say we arrived in New Zealand and felt at home after a period of adjustment and settling in. I would love to say we were welcomed into a community with open arms. I would love to say that although there was an initial culture shock, my family and I were soon to be part of an amazing country where we found a great many new opportunities that perhaps we would not have had back home. I truly would love to say that the first 10 years here were awesome – peppered with few struggles, but overall amazing, I really would.

Sadly, I cannot say those things.

I have never really told the unvarnished truth about this, as when I begin to tell my story I am usually met with comments suggesting I need a thicker skin. Or I’m told this hell I went through made me stronger. Most of all, I’m told people were just joking, that they didn’t really mean it.

To this day, almost every day, I still hear all the time: That’s not racist. It’s just a joke. You gotta get a sense of humour.

So I did. I got me that sense of humour. And that sense of humour got me through my 20s.

Natasha gives examples of racism particular to her Indian ethnicity but it isn’t confined to ethnicity. I know someone from a country in Europe who was often needled and harassed due to where they came from, even though they had lived in New Zealand for thirty years.

I had to laugh, because if I didn’t start laughing, at least on the outside, I would be crying.

I just had to show that I was thick skinned and able to laugh at these situations. What was the point of trying to educate people and tell them how it made me feel if they couldn’t see for themselves that it was indeed offensive, hurtful and ignorant?

What does it take for those who attack immigrants to realise how offensive, hurtful or ignorant what they say can be?

We were called names and made fun of for being us.

I don’t mean the odd instance of name calling here and there. I mean:


Every single day I encountered racist “jokes”, remarks, questions and comments. At primary school, at high school and at university.

That’s disgraceful from people who may have immigrated themselves or at least will almost certainly have recent immigrant family history.

I have now been here for 22 years. It has taken nearly all that time to finally, somewhat, almost, maybe feel like this is home.

I married the most wonderful white man and his white family could not be further from what I had been exposed to. They are unique and I always tell them that. I was never ever scared of being myself around them – and that was huge. They accepted me and my family as if they saw no difference between us. But even more importantly, any difference they did see, they loved unconditionally.

But to have children with this wonderful man means another journey that I have to take, a journey of having mixed race children.

I fear for them.

I fear for our future as a family.

That’s very sad. Racism and immigrant bashing is particularly damaging and unfair for children.

What might my children go through, being mixed race in this country?

Can you imagine what that’s like? To have gone through what I still go through and then imagine my children experiencing the same thing?

My husband and I hope that they never have to deal with the hurt and pain of racism, but if they ever do so I hope I can guide them through it.

I hope I can be seen as an example of someone who has triumphed over racism.

I hope they will see me as a light that will guide them through the turmoil of living in a racist country.

And to you, if you’re reading, if you have dealt with anything like this while living here in New Zealand, know that you are not alone.

You don’t need a thicker skin.

You don’t need to laugh racism away.

It has taken me 22 years, but New Zealand almost feels like home. We still need to make it a home for all of the children who were once like me.

Whether our personal immigrant history goes back a few years or a few generations, I hope fellow Kiwi can become much better than we have been.

Everyone who has made New Zealand a home deserves to be treated with respect and decency, no matter what their country of birth, their ethnic background, their colour or race or religion may be.

We should reflect on what Natasha has written, and strive to be better to each other as individuals, and better as a country.

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  1. There it is, plain as a new day. The day after South African White refugee immigration, the day after Pacific Island immigration, the day after Pommies, the day after Chinese ‘gold rush’ immigration, the day after Yugoslav gum diggers … et al …

    Some of these people will have experienced much more racism than others. Spot the difference? Yep, its skin colour … its the occidental/oriental/’native’/negroid hierachy of division …

    None of these people [more-or-less, to exaggerate for effect] will have given a thought or a toss for the fact they themselves are immigrants in someone else’s country – that they are in fact the “other”, the stranger, te pakeha – because the hapu iwi indigenous peoples’ whose country they overran by immigration and force had brown skin …

    In other words … from the root-stock grows the tree … nourished by its own falling leaves and rotting fruit …

    It might be a blogosphere cliche but for once “think of the children” is about the most appropriate thing to say … along with a big thank you to Natasha …

  2. Poor wee snowflake, I really do feel for her. Children are so cruel. I had similar problems, whether it be accent, physique, sexual orientation or contumely.

    Still, could be worse . . .

    Like in India, where Dalits are routinely crushed and where religious intermarriage leads to tragedy. Or life for Christians, marginalised in Europe, victimised and slaughtered in the Islamic world. Or for women in repugnant cultures who have inflicted upon them FGM, honour-killings, forced and child marriage, and purdah.

    But I’m sure her half-caste sons won’t suffer the same indignities. They’ll have balls.

    • Yeah right, New Zealand’s problems pale by comparison to other countries and are therefore of no consequence … “It could be worse” … and this justifies how it is, the status quo, including racism …? Pathetic!

      We couldn’t possibly have standards ALL OF OUR OWN that we set and maintain? Uniquely ‘Real Kiwi’ standards!? Aotearoa-New Zealand standards!? Tikanga standards.

      We couldn’t possibly do things differently from other countries? We couldn’t possibly aspire to be a culture of equality and compassion, even if the reality falls short.

      Oh no … After all, we don’t want to be better than the worst place on earth?

      As long as our poverty doesn’t get as bad as people dying of starvation in the gutters, and our racism not as bad as lynchings and darkie-huntings, we’ll be okay … Heck, we’ll save MONEY too!!~!!

      Her kids will have balls but the society they live in won’t have any … Not real balls … Not the kind of balls that say, “Its okay not to be tough and strong and viciously competitive … not to hate … Its okay to ask for help. Its okay to acknowledge our shortcomings. Our mass depression” [Who’s our famous rugby player/coach promotes something like this?]

      We’ve done very little by way of original social policy since Micky Savage led the world with ‘Social Security’. Rogered-nomics, Ruthanasia and all the FIIRE that’s followed is just a poor, pathetic, ill-conceived, marginally human copy-cat of Friedman, Pinochet, Reagan & Thatcher … We’ve become little more than South Pacific Toadies …

      • Impotent idealism, PartizanZ.

        The issue about Natasha (and credit to her for having a Western name) is ‘victimhood’, the new narrative of the far Left who, having lost their historic constituency, found a new, artificially created one. We all take criticism of the normative differences we carry, but the stoicism of old has gone. Now we have the infantilising cognitive distortions of trigger warnings, microaggressions, and vindictive protectiveness; of extravagant defence of disparate identities and the taxonomic inflation that accompanies them. It presumes an extraordinary fragility of (particularly) students’ psyche and therefore elevates the goal of protecting them from psychological harm. Then there’s the other issue that Natasha involuntarily raises – females’ tendency towards solipsism and their narrow self-referential world view. The ascent of this problem has yet to reach its apex but has already wrought damage through their influence on the peace dividend.

        • if Alan can easily understand that lot Kit, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle … and will take with a grain of salt all future aspertions about my verbosity …

          What you’re saying is: Before, when we were clearly the oppressors, everything was okay for us and ‘they’ didn’t matter … which was their problem … but now it’s become evident it wasn’t and isn’t okay for them, and everything’s no longer okay for us, its still THEIR problem … and THEIR fault …

          Sooner my impotent idealism that your inhuman ‘realism’ any day pal …

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  19th October 2016

            Just because you have company doesn’t make it good, PZ.

            Ask KS to translate that lot into simple and therefore meaningful English.

            • I don’t need to Alan, I understood and translated it myself. See above.

              Kit accuses Natasha and by inference all ‘Lefties’ of engaging in victimhood, the game of victims and perpetrators called Victimology.

              He may or may not realise he’s playing Victimology himself, in the role of perpetrator … Victim Blamer in this instance …

              It’s an understandable, deep-seated personal issue associated with age-old generational feelings of White Supremacy.

          • PartisanZ – “Kit accuses Natasha and by inference all ‘Lefties’ of engaging in victimhood, the game of victims and perpetrators called Victimology. He may or may not realise he’s playing Victimology himself, in the role of perpetrator … Victim Blamer in this instance …”

            Quite wrong. This is an observation not an opinion. I am not right or wrong in this, I’m simply (if not clearly) presenting the situation as it is.

            The Left had to change over the years because its constituency, labour and the poor, failed to grasp the necessity of revolution and sat back in comfort once unions had raised wages and during what many economists call ‘the Golden Age of Economics’, after the Great Depression and World War II, and the role played by powerful governments in introducing the Welfare State.

            That was then.

            The knee-joint in the Left’s decline came about with Blair’s Third Way and its adoption of neo-liberal economics that PartisanZ so eloquently declaims. But that’s the centre-Left. Behind the scenes neo-Marxism was taking control through universities and teacher training colleges. Check out the role of Rudi Dutschke, Antonio Gramsci, the Frankfurt School, critical theory, and moral and cultural relativism. While this drives Corbyn, it is clearly not a popular electoral plank. The hoi polloi want simple answers to their problems, while the elite and the clerisy, those with university education and influence but ignorant of the political machinations driving their agendas, seek a borderless world that suits them, but with total disregard for those who lose out on the benefits they themselves accrue. A major and essential casualty of this program is national identity, and since we all need something we can identify with, the far Left (what I call anyone with views to the left of Fabianism which is as close as I get, as a consequentialist Utilitarian, to having political views) has created a diversity, a word I use advisedly, of identities. European nations especially feel compelled to support this diversity, even as it visibly fragments the nation-state with its tendency towards chaos. In order to validate these disparate identities, the nation’s bien pensants, those right-thinking people who gain frissons of moral rectitude from supporting anyone who claims victimhood, give ‘victims’ a wide public voice to vent their feelings. That is, the public expression of private emotion.

            Natasha Johnson plays it to the hilt.

            The role that female solipsism plays can wait. This is already tl;dr.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  19th October 2016

              The US election shows the divide very clearly.

              Clinton (masquerading as Lefty); Vote for me because you are female/black/Hispanic/worker/unionist/intellectual/correct thinking.

              Trump: Vote for me because I am going to do this and this and that.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  19th October 2016

              ??? after intellectual that should have read “/correct thinking”

    • Corky

       /  19th October 2016

      Can I ask, Parti, are you a political plant or a blog commentator? I say that because I’m a Rightie. yet I constantly criticize and make fun of National ( and Trumpy) I do that because I know at the end of the day it is a game that little people never win.

      • Do you ask this in the absence of any comprehension of my post Corky? I thought I’d used language you’d understand …

        I’m a blog commentator Corks old son … unlike you … I’d make a good political plant though, wouldn’t I? I’m open to offers … but with an emotellect like mine I don’t come cheap.

        @ Corky – on ‘Prison $’ yesterday – “More great stuff from a great government” …

        Presumably this is an example of your constant criticism and lampooning of National!?

        The other one’s got bells on!

        • Corky

           /  19th October 2016

          “‘Do you ask this in the absence of any comprehension of my post Corky? I thought I’d used language you’d understand … “‘

          Crikey, humouring the “slow one.” What I like about you is you are so busy basking in your own reflective glory, I’m able to walk in your front door, write graffiti on your pastel coloured walls, and walk out again while you are still in front of the mirror.

          I guess we both have problems.

          • Touche x 10 squared Corky … that’s very funny …

            Funny ha ha? No … funny … &%#@^)())(&*(&^%%%!!!

            You call it “basking in your own reflective glory” … I call it simply feeling confident about, but not fixed in, my own beliefs, thought processes, feelings and opinions …

            So there it is right there old son … in your reply … an example of the “mass depression” I spoke about earlier … We’re not necessarily individually depressed, but as a whole our society must be depressed to function how it does …

            I certainly have problems, thanks for acknowledging that you do too …


            • PS – I don’t give a shit about your “little man” syndrome. Each to his/her own though …

              If we all believed it we’d do precisely nothing, and we’d allow the little men who know you can make a difference to run rampant in the world … prime example Roger Douglas …

              Asked why he was singing to his baby after finding out the child was deaf, the father replied, “I shall sing, whether he hears me or not”

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  19th October 2016

    There is a simple lesson I’ve mentioned before. The world is full of idiots but luckily there are lots of good people too. Stay away from the idiots and work and play with the good ones. I think I learnt that in primary school.

    • Corky

       /  19th October 2016

      You learnt wisely, Alan. But do you not think if someone is a perceived idiot, now and again that needs to be called?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  19th October 2016

        Usually it sufficiently obvious to be unnecessary other than occasionally to release steam and frustration. In severe cases it can be too unkind.

        • Corky

           /  19th October 2016

          Ah, yes. Lurchy comes to mind.

          • Oh for God’s sake you guys … !!!

            To one idiot another idiot looks “good” …

            And some idiots look good to good people …

            So one good person’s idiot might be an idiot’s good person or another good person’s good person who the first good person also perceives as a good person too, the idiot …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  19th October 2016

              PZ, I long ago decided that I don’t care what other people’s idiots look like. I just have to identify mine.

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