Councillor’s family racially snubbed

The Samoan family of new Auckland councillor Efeso Collins were refused allocated seating at his swearing in ceremony. This is appalling in the city with the largest Polynesian population in the world (about 200,000 or 15% of the population).

efeso-collins

RNZ: ‘Racial discrimination’ mars Auckland councillor’s swearing-in

The Tuesday evening ceremony was a proud moment for Efeso Collins, who was the first in his family with a university education and was sworn in as one of two representatives in the Manukau Ward in south Auckland.

But the joy wasn’t fully shared by his wife, daughter and elders, who were refused their allocated seating in the councillor’s family area at the Auckland Town Hall.

“My family was told that they couldn’t sit where they were because that was reserved for council guests, and that’s when my wife said ‘We are council guests’, but no one believed them,” he said.

In the formal atmosphere of a gala-style ceremony, Mr Collins had no doubt as to what happened to his Samoan relatives.

“The fact that we don’t look ‘normal’, and that’s the problem – too many people offering the suggestion, which is essentially racially discriminatory, that brown people don’t belong there.”

The lack of Polynesian representation is in part due to ongoing racism.

He said Auckland Council needed to break down racial preconceptions.

“If I’m still being challenged like that now, you can imagine the experience of the very people I represent, where every day we’re confronted with this type of thinking.”

New Zealand and Auckland in particular are multicultural by numbers but  entrenched European attitudes are still apparent.

The council’s general manager of democracy services, Marguerite Delbet, said she was appalled and mortified after looking into the incident, calling the staff member’s behaviour “completely unacceptable” and has apologised profusely.

Ms Delbet said the usher, who was employed by a council agency, had been very rude and tried to push away Mrs Collins.

“There really is no excuse,” she said.

There would appear to be no good excuse.

Mr Collins noted the strikingly Anglo-Saxon tone of the the inauguration ceremonies, of which this week’s was the Auckland Council’s third.

From the opening fanfare to the now customary performance of Handel’s Messiah, there are few signs of the evening being the work of a council elected by one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities.

Māori protocol is a given at council functions and the ceremony included a rendition of Pokarekare Ana by the Stellar Singers.

Mayor Phil Goff thought the evening’s mix was appropriate.

Tradition can be important but if Auckland is serious about wanting multicultural representation then the city has to move with the times.

The make up of Auckland population (from the 2013 census):

  • European 59.3%
  • Asian 23.1%
  • Pacific Island 14.6%
  • Maori 10.7%
  • Middle Eastern/Latin American/African 1.9%
  • New Zealanders 1.1%
  • Others 0.1%

I’m surprised so few identify as ‘New Zealander’. It’s likely that quite a few putting themselves down as ‘European’ have a mix of ethnicities.

Auckland Council recently spent $1.2 million in a voting campaign trying to convince the city’s different communities that it was relevant and important to them.

Perhaps they should spend a bit of time convincing their staff  of the importance of different communities.

Mr Collins wants to see future council inaugurations do better.

“Because it’s important that the wider population feels that they are being represented, that they can see their colours and flavours in it, and I think we need to do better to ensure that everybody feels a part of it.

“I don’t think we’ve got the diversity right in those inaugurations.”

Now he is a councillor Collins can perhaps push for deal with diversity better.

Watch: Efeso Collins makes his maiden speech at Auckland Council

Leave a comment

48 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  3rd November 2016

    The fact that so few identify as New Zealanders is a disturbing consequence of the ToW racial divisiveness IMO.

    Reply
    • In the 2013 census about 66,000 people put themselves down as ‘New Zealander’. This may be in part because it is a new option and hasn’t taken on yet.

      About 230,000 didn’t state any ethnicity.

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  3rd November 2016

      Maori don’t identity as New Zealanders.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  3rd November 2016

        Indentify.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  3rd November 2016

          Identify ?.

          I wouldn’t read too much into the identifying or not identifying oneself as New Zealander, as this is a new category-though why it has taken so long is a mystery.

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  3rd November 2016

            No, you don’t understand. Maori are Maori…you are Tauiwi. You don’t count to Maori.

            Tauiwi:

            A Maori term for other people, this is a more polite way of referring to Europeans and or people of other than Maori decent.
            The tauiwi have come, meaning the other people of other than maori decent have arrived.
            #pakeha #other people #foreigner #stranger #outsider

            Reply
            • Joe Bloggs

               /  3rd November 2016

              Your comment that Māori are Māori remind me of the words of Albert Wendt:

              Pacific Islanders exist only in New Zealand: when I arrive at Auckland Airport I am called a Pacific Islander. Elsewhere I am Samoan

    • Excellent ‘topiversion’ there Alan … [new word # 76 = Topic Diversion] … Really a monumental RIGHT turn into a long & extremely narrow(-minded) blind alley …

      Well done! Your name will be duly noted upon the Right Brigade ‘Roll of Dis’em Honour’ at KFL.

      I should have known … Its all about Maori people and Te Tiriti o Waitangi and post-1975 racial divisiveness … This new thing in the world, Left-Wing & Politically Correct race-based politics and separatism …

      To paraphrase Joe Bloggs, “And in YOUR few short words is demonstrated the institutionalised nature of racism in all its subtlety …”

      Reply
  2. Kevin

     /  3rd November 2016

    So who were the idiots who thought his family weren’t official guests? And why didn’t anyone bother actually *checking* if his family was telling the truth? Didn’t anyone have a list of names they could have looked at?

    Forget the racism angle (which probably played a part). If these idiots who didn’t let the family in are representative of Auckland Council no wonder the Auckland Council is such shite.

    Reply
  3. Corky

     /  3rd November 2016

    Hmm.. I would need more information before calling racism, which I am quite willing to do. For me the questions start here:

    “But the joy wasn’t fully shared by his wife, daughter and elders, who were refused their allocated seating in the councillor’s family area at the Auckland Town Hall.”

    Were the elders invited? Or to use an Islander quip: ” did the whole Island turn up?’ Next, once refused seating did they clearly communicate with this supposed racist colonial aggressor who they were, and who they were supporting?

    But what really worries me is this:

    European 59.3%
    Asian 23.1%
    Pacific Island 14.6%
    Maori 10.7%
    Middle Eastern/Latin American/African 1.9%
    New Zealanders 1.1%
    Others 0.1%

    As any TV clip of downtown Auckland shows the Asian demographic now stands at 23%. Worse that was in 2013.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  3rd November 2016

      And I read in a university thesis yesterday that NZers of Chinese ethnicity are projected to be as large a proportion of our population as Maori by 2050.

      Reply
    • Joe Bloggs

       /  3rd November 2016

      Were the elders invited? Or to use an Islander quip: ” did the whole Island turn up?’ Next, once refused seating did they clearly communicate with this supposed racist colonial aggressor who they were, and who they were supporting?

      And in those few short words is demonstrated the institutionalised nature of racism in all its subtlety. It goes something like this:

      1. seating was allocated to the guests. When the councillor’s wife, daughter and elders turned up they were refused their allocated seating. It doesn’t suggest anywhere that “the whole island” turned up, and the ‘quip’ inquiring if they did is simply a turn of phrase used to marginalise and minoritise these particular invited guests. And by focusing our attention on this quip, we’re drawn away from the wider context and meaning of the refusal to allow these guests to take their allocated seating

      2. Then the question is asked “did they clearly communicate” – this questioning of the guests’ ability to communicate clearly is another racial dig, with its subtle but clear implication that because the guests were Samoan their communication skills were not adequate

      3. Then there is the apparently tongue-in-cheek sensationalised description of “this supposedly racist colonial aggressor”, which is sufficiently over the top as to invite incredulity that the poor usher’s actions were anything other than appropriate

      4. Finally the whole comment smacks of individuating the issue of institutionalised racism by blaming the recipients of the events. This both enables us to overlook the greater issue and re-victimises the guests of Councillor Collins

      And that’s how institutionalised racism thrives in our country… and I wonder if you were even aware of the implications of what you were saying?

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  3rd November 2016

        Its really hard replying to you, Joe. I think your comments are tongue in cheek. But lets treat them as genuinely held opinions for the sake of debate

        The first clue to my argument is the first paragraph:

        ‘Hmm.. I would need more information before calling racism, which I am quite willing to do. For me the questions start here:”

        The reason for that comment? I have been caught out so many times forming a conclusion based on reported facts, only to find out later those reported facts are wrong. Hence the second part of that paragraph stating I will call racism- if consequent reporting answers my questions.

        Now for your points:

        1- The Island perspective of a formal event is different to that of Europeans. Did other uninvited Island guests turn up on the spur of the moment? A fair question I would have thought for my line of inquiry.

        2- Given such events can be intimidating, even for Europeans. And given Island folks natural shyness and general lesser education status……could it be possible they said nothing or explained themselves inadequately?

        3- Tongue-in-cheek description is just that. But I love your narrative into my Machiavellian scheming.

        4- Give me a break. PC bs at its best.

        As I said before. I have no problem calling racism if its proven to be blatant racism. This situation also has a loose corollary regarding the expected culture of hospital behaviour v Polynesian expectations.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  3rd November 2016

          It’s certainly a fair question as to how many supporters wanted to be accommodated. But equally council staff should have checked out beforehand that space met expectations. So that whole issue isn’t properly dealt with by the news report which simply blames an individual who finished up at the sharp end of the problem. We don’t know if that is fair.

          Reply
      • Joe, I hesitate to challenge your interpretation given above mainly because you have demonstrated a very thin skin in this area. I should imagine the people whom you criticise would be horrified at your interpretation of what they said, because I do not believe that their intent was as you claimed it. Having lived and worked in Australia for 8 years as a clearly identifiable New Zealander I was subjected to many racial taunts, allegedly in a humorous vein, so I learned to be thick-skinned about it and never let them get a rise out of me. You mihjt like to follow that course of action in future.

        Reply
        • Joe Bloggs

           /  3rd November 2016

          and that’s how we learn to sweep institutionalised racism under the carpet and pretend that it doesn’t exist…

          You say thin-skinned, BJ. Very well, if you say so… because that’s your prerogative… but I say that I speak out unapologetically in the tradition of courageous Kiwis who confront racist representations and who stand up for the rights and freedoms of the marginalised. And that’s my prerogative….

          Reply
          • Yes Joe, I am okay with that. I will continue in my own way to look for balance in an issue that could divide, and look and press for unity (Hobson’s choice!).

            Corky says “Maori” (whatever that means) do not identify as New Zealanders. Tell that to General Jerry Mateparae, and the late Major General Brian Poananga former NZ High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea and the thousands of soldiers who wore and wear the black and white name of New Zealand on their shoulders when deployed overseas in action.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  3rd November 2016

              Times have changed BJ. You mentioned a couple of flash Maoris and a few others in the Army who went into the army for a variety of reasons.

              What a about the rest? Why not go out and find out. You might be schooled.

              Talking of the army. Many Maori are still bitter with they way they were treated after returning from both world wars . Something someone like you whom, if I remember correctly, have held office in some form of New Zealand government bureaucracy.

            • Corky

               /  3rd November 2016

              * should have known about*

  4. Gezza

     /  3rd November 2016

    I was just looking at the 2013 Census form. It wasn’t offered as an option.

    The only question this information could have been derived from was question 11, “Which ethnic group do you belong to?”.

    You could mark as many as you wanted to from:
    “New Zealand European, Maori, Samoan, Cook Island Maori, Tongan, Niuean, Chinese, Indian, OTHER, such as DUTCH, JAPANESE, TOKELAUAN: Please state:”

    The Guide Notes explained:

    “Why do you want to know about my ethnic group or groups?

    Ethnicity statistics count the number of people identifying with different ethnic groups in New Zealand. Understanding where these groups are and how they change over time helps government, businesses and community organisations to plan policies and services in areas such as health and education. People also use this information to learn more about their communities.
    An ethnic group is made up of people who have some or all of the following:
    • a shared culture, such as traditions or ways of doing things, customs, beliefs or language
    • a common ancestry or history
    • a similar geographic, tribal or clan origin.
    Examples of ethnic groups are: Māori, Samoan, Chinese New Zealander, Kiribati, Greek, Afrikaner, Eritrean, Kurd, Iraqi, Assyrian and Malay.”
    http://www.stats.govt.nz/~/media/Statistics/Census/2013%20Census/forms/2013-individual-form.pdf
    http://www.stats.govt.nz/~/media/Statistics/Census/2013%20Census/forms/2013-guide-notes.pdf

    I seem to recall there was some kind of campaign to get people to put themselves down as “New Zealander”. Not much help probably for anything that the government legitimately wants, uses & needs ethnicity data for, but I suppose enough respondents had sufficient intelligence to recognise New Zealander isn’t an ethnicity for Stats Dept to be able to estimate the likely ethnic makeup of such “nationlist protestors” – likely mostly Don Brash supporter-types & predominantly Pakeha.

    Perhaps it’s time they included a separate question on what citizenship you are? At least if people write “Tangata Wenua” or “Aotearoan” it’d be easy enough to deduce they’re NZ cits.

    I would have ticked New Zealand European. Do you remember how you answered question 11, Alan?

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  3rd November 2016

      “About 230,000 didn’t state any ethnicity.”

      My comment above related to the 66,000 who identified their ethnicity as New Zealander.

      I wonder though why over four times as many didn’t state any ethnicity? Protest or confusion or both?

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  3rd November 2016

      Understanding where these groups are and how they change over time helps government, businesses and community organisations to plan policies and services in areas such as health and education.

      So the question really should be: Do you believe you need special policies or services due to your ethnicity? If so, what ethnicity other than New Zealander do you identify with?

      Time to shake out the Stats Dept.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  3rd November 2016

        No because maybe most people might say no, so they wouldn’t answer the next question and you won’t get enough people identifying their ethnicity. So then we’d have not very much useful ethnicity data for people to complain about when they want to complain about particular ethnic groups, for whatever purposes they usually like to complain about particular ethnic groups. I find ethnicity data interesting anyway. I like to know how the ethnic composition of New Zealand is changing, even if you don’t.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  3rd November 2016

          I will note one oddity in the Guide Notes though. Only one ethnicity is illustrated as “Chinese New Zealander”. Why’s that I wonder. Especially since it doesn’t say that in Q 11.

          Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  3rd November 2016

          You only think you know anyway since the self-reported data is ill-defined, unreliable and incomplete. It’s a b.s. question currently providing b.s. data and of more or less zero practical value and importance except for feeding into irrational prejudices.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  3rd November 2016

            Yeah I said much the same thing about feeding prejudices.
            Still, I like to know.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd November 2016

              Then you should pay for it. Stats spends too much of other people’s time gathering useless ill-defined data with ridiculous precision that no-one in their right minds other than politicians seeking cheap shots would pay for.

            • Gezza

               /  3rd November 2016

              I don’t have to pay for it. I get it from my government. Thanks for contributing towards it, grumpy. 👍

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd November 2016

              Snarl. I’ll set Lurch onto you.

  5. Not racism. I’d suggest that it was bad organisation.
    And thus another stick to flog ‘whitey’ with

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  3rd November 2016

      I find it odd that racism would be the reason-maybe it was because the seats were saved for the Collins family and the people who turned up were obviously Samoan. It was seriously bad manners, but I don’t believe that Samoans would be not allowed in. The person involved was obviously a real jobsworth.

      Reply
      • Klik Bate

         /  3rd November 2016

        Yep, I’m right with you on this Kitty! In fact I wouldn’t mind betting it was the same pommie jobsworth wearing the white-coat and directing me where to park at Ellerslie on Tuesday 😎

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  3rd November 2016

          I love the expression ‘jobsworth’. It’s expanded a bit from its original meaning, of course, but it just describes that sort of mentality superbly. Does anyone like a jobsworth ?

          Reply
  6. Ray

     /  3rd November 2016

    I put New Zealander, we have been here since 1785, and like most people my DNA would how tracks back to various places

    Reply
  7. Gezza, the ethnicity of the people of the Republic of Kiribati is” I-Kiribati” pronounced “ee kiri bass”. As I have said before, my ethnicity is “Non-Maori New Zealander” as I tip my hat to the official bicultural thesis of New Zealand. When we are able to acknowledge that biculturalism is as dead as the dodo, and we are able to admit we are a multi-cultural society, then all the other ethnicities can be put on the table.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  3rd November 2016

      Why spell it ‘bati’ and expect people to know it’s pronounced ‘bass’ ? Who on earth would ?

      I wouldn’t call myself a non-Maori New Zealander, why would I ? As well expect a Maori to call themselves non-Pakeha. Non-something could be anything.

      Reply
      • Its the way the I-Kiribati people speak KC. When I was High Commissioner there, the President was HE Teboro Tito, pronounced “Seetoe”. I was able to advise Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth”s Chamberlain of how she should address the President, so there was no confusion with the President Tito when she was in NZ the last time.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  3rd November 2016

          Yes, but why on earth write it down in a way that doesn’t resemble the pronunciation in any way ? Your being there has nothing to do with this. Someone transcribed these words, and at a guess it was not a Kiribati person but someone educated in English. Either they had a very poor ear or an odd sense of humour.

          Reply
          • The letter “S” does not feature in the “Gilbertese” now I-Kiribati alphabet. Blame the London Missionary Society missionaries produced the Gilbertese Dictionary when they produced the Gilbertese Bible. Those danged “pommies”again!

            Reply
    • Gezza

       /  3rd November 2016

      Bj why “when we are able to admit we are a multi-cultural society, then all the other ethnicities can be put on the table”?

      What difference does that make? Why collect ethnicity data at that hypothetical point and not now?

      Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  3rd November 2016

      ‘When we are able to acknowledge that biculturalism is as dead as the dodo, and we are able to admit we are a multi-cultural society’

      Thank you colonel. Finally someone talking sense. Cheers,c

      Reply
  8. Gezza, good question. The official policy for the Public Service is to defend New Zealand’s bicultural status as a nod to the Treaty Of Waitangi Act. Commonsense tells all of that is rubbish (tidak masuk akal in Indo Malay)i.e is not sense, because of the facts of the numbers that show up in the censuses. The law is an ass. So we can show up our ethnicities as we believe them to be. There are a number of New Zealanders with whakapapa to various iwi who list ther names on the general roll for election. That roll is for use by those who identify as Non-Maori New Zealander because the alternative roll is called the Maori Roll. I recognise that I will be accused as pedantic. However, except for those who wish to revise our history (the Revisionists) you have to admit that when Abel Tasman arrived in 1642 he met up with what the Dutch translated as “Natives”. Maori as a collective noun did not exist until the Missionaries devised the first English to Maori Bible and Dictionary. Before that the people of Aotearoa-New Zealand were identified by allegiance to Iwi (canoe), Mountain, River and Territory. I have no doubt now, that we as one people, have accepted the need to recognise the New Zealand Land Wars (or the “Maori Wars” as the colonial British called them) our History will be rewritten by the revisionists to emphasise the “honourable warrior” status of the Maori and demean the British Soldiers who were the main body of the Colonial Force. We should not try and do more than be honest about what happened based on authentic research and appropriate scientific research of the battle sites. We must use “Professional Military Historians” to research the truth of what occurred and not rely just on memories of the events nearly 200 years ago. We must not gild the lily.

    Reply
    • @ bjmarsh1 – ” … defend New Zealand’s bicultural status as a nod to the Treaty Of Waitangi Act.”

      Maybe The Treaty of Waitangi Act is a nod to Te Tiriti o Waitangi …?

      I kind of agree, there’s no need to treat British soldiers unjustly simply because they won, in the same way British soldiers shouldn’t be treated unjustly because they lost in America’s War of Independence …

      Reply
  9. Joe Bloggs

     /  3rd November 2016

    And yes perhaps the silver lining to this appalling incident is that the sheer visibility of the act gives Collins something to point to when people try to ignore the casual bias and racism that his constituents experience daily. Regular people do indeed still hold poisonous and destructive ideas about other regular people. Please believe us. Here is proof.

    http://mana.co.nz/news/viewpoint-we-should-all-be-appalled-and-outraged-about-what-happened-to-efeso-collins.html

    Indeed 😦

    Reply
    • Yes Joe. I too am appalled at the lack of courtesy, good manners and common decency showed by whomever. The real problem is that too many people believe they are threatened by people who are different, rather than rejoicing in the opportunity to learn from others. No excuses for a lack of good manners and courtesy.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  3rd November 2016

      I would be very cautious of any media report until we hear another side of the story. As discussed above, we don’t know how many were in the group, how much space was available, whether the number of supporters had been discussed or arranged for beforehand, what briefing the security guards had been given, what ethnicity the guard was, etc.

      Given the propensity of the media to attempt to create controversy and trouble usually from a Lefty perspective this strikes me as right, smack in that risk category.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  3rd November 2016

        Listened to One News coverage of said event . What a waste of time. No pertinent questions asked to clear the matter up- not one! The Aiga ( family) were not interviewed. But plenty of time was given for the aggrieved councillor to tee-off.

        There was however a very subtle hint given… the word ‘shy’ was used. However, before Joe jumps down my throat, I may be guilty of what I have accused him of…..reading something into nothing.

        Reply

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