Ground rules on discussing immigration, culture etc

There was a series of posts yesterday here that made a range of claims and generalisations that were unsupported by evidence, and some were obviously wrong.

I have no problem with things like immigration, culture, multiculturalism etc here, but want to detail some ground rules.

If you comment on contentious issues in particular then back up your claims with facts. ‘Supporting’ links to overseas sites of dubious credibility will be viewed with suspicion – it can take time to check these out so they may be suspending pending time to deal with them, or deleted.


‘Multiculturalism’ has a variety of meanings and purposes so be specific about what you mean by it.

Dictionary definition:

the presence of, or support for the presence of, several distinct cultural or ethnic groups within a society.

That applies to many countries, and has applied to New Zealand for decades if not centuries.


The term multiculturalism has a range of meanings within the contexts of sociology, of political philosophy, and of colloquial use. In sociology and in everyday usage, it is a synonym for “ethnic pluralism“, with the two terms often used interchangeably, for example, a cultural pluralism in which various ethnic groups collaborate and enter into a dialogue with one another without having to sacrifice their particular identities. It can describe a mixed ethnic community area where multiple cultural traditions exist (such as New York City) or a single country within which they do (such as Switzerland, Belgium or Russia). Groups associated with an aboriginal or autochthonous ethnic group and foreigner ethnic groups are often the focus.

In reference to sociology, multiculturalism is the end-state of either a natural or artificial process (for example: legally-controlled immigration) and occurs on either a large national scale or on a smaller scale within a nation’s communities. On a smaller scale this can occur artificially when a jurisdiction is established or expanded by amalgamating areas with two or more different cultures (e.g. French Canada and English Canada). On a large scale, it can occur as a result of either legal or illegal migration to and from different jurisdictions around the world (for example, Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain by Angles, Saxons and Jutes in the 5th century or the colonization of the Americas by Europeans, Africans and Asians since the 16th century).

So it is not just something that has happened over the last few years. Britain has had major cultural influences from the Romans, Vikings, Angles, Saxons, Jutes and French, and has major influxes of immigrants for centuries, notably in the 1800s when work and population expanded due to the industrial revolution.

Critics of multiculturalism often debate whether the multicultural ideal of benignly co-existing cultures that interrelate and influence one another, and yet remain distinct, is sustainable, paradoxical, or even desirable.

It is argued that nation states, who would previously have been synonymous with a distinctive cultural identity of their own, lose out to enforced multiculturalism and that this ultimately erodes the host nations’ distinct culture

nation state (or nation-state) is a state in which the great majority shares the same culture and is conscious of it.

New Zealand has not been a ‘nation state’ since Europeans started settling here in numbers in the 1800s.


Definition: evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one’s own culture

That probably applies to everyone to some extent.

This was quoted:

One of the most damning statements against multicultural society comes from sociobiology and it is this:

Ethnocentrism is not a White disorder and evidence is emerging that immigrant communities harbour invidious attitude towards Anglo Australians, disparaging their culture and the legitimacy of their central place in national identity

That’s an ‘Anglo Australian’ superiority statement that applies fault only to others when a lot of the fault with “disparaging their culture and the legitimacy of their central place in national identity” is with those who see themselves as superior ‘Anglos’.

It ignores an obvious fact – Aborigines. Their culture is unique and is probably the longest established culture (or cultures) in the world.

It also ignores the fact that many other cultures other than ‘Anglo’ have been a part of the Australian mix for a long time.

Shutting down dissent

“The cofuffle about hate speech is really about shutting down dissent.”

No it’s not. It is largely an attempt to reduce speech that is derogatory, divisive, inflammatory and harmful, and speech that promotes superiority rather than equal status. It’s going to be a challenging debate on a difficult issue.

Only those who see themselves as dissenters claim that it is about shutting down dissent. An extreme version of this is those who claim that tightening up our lax gun laws is an attempt to shut down the ability of the population to violently oust a government – I have seen this alluded to at Kiwiblog and Whale Oil, with a UN conspiracy also being mentioned.

“European culture is New Zealand’s founding culture”

That’s obviously nonsense. Polynesian culture is Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding culture, dating back about a thousand years. European culture has had a major impact over the last two centuries, but even that has been a diverse range of cultures.

Other cultures made lesser but still notable impacts, like Chinese, Lebanese and Dalmatian. And over the last fifty years there have been major influxes of various nationalities and cultures, including a range of Polynesian cultures, Asian cultures (the first significant influx of Muslims was actually a mix of those two, Indian Fijians), South Africans, Chinese, Indian, Philippino and others.

‘European culture’ seems to be a euphemism for white superiority.

The white class

Some seem to see ‘white’ as a superior class with a culture that must be preserved. Many of the white Anglos/Europeans who emigrated to New Zealand did so to escape the oppressive class system in England.

You have to be careful about classing people as ‘white’ in New Zealand, many white looking people have a variety of racial and ethnic family histories.

It’s somewhat ironic that those who promote their ‘white class’ as superior are of a small fringe of New Zealand society.

The bottom line

Anyone wanting to promote what I perceive as some sort of white/Anglo/European superiority agenda will need to back up their arguments with sound reasoning and facts – and not cherry picked facts that distort the true picture.

The more sweeping generalisations, unsupported claims and conspiracies that are made the less tolerance I will have for giving you an unmoderated forum.

Final word

There is no cultural or ethnic majority in New Zealand. We are a diverse mix of cultures. Sure, some have been more prominent than others, but that doesn’t make them stand out on their own or superior or inferior.

We need to value our uniqueness and our similarities whatever our ethnic or cultural background is.

And we need to accept that all of this is changing. The culture I live in in my small corner of the country is significantly different to the one I grew up in, and in many respects it is richer and better. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t go back to what it was, it doesn’t exist any more.

Nonsense on ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘free speech’

I’ve resisted doing much on Southern and Molynuex, but some of their claims while in New Zealand are ridiculous.

From NZH: Andrew Little happy ‘insidious’ alt-right pair leaving the country as bomb threat claim emerges

Southern then said it was because people wanted to be involved in “their own civil rights movement” because “they have been told it is the greatest good to be involved in these civil rights movements”.

“And because there isn’t one in this day and age, there’s no real oppression other than … the only laws I can think of that are biased against a certain race in the Western world are ones that are anti-hiring men and white people because of affirmative action … these battles have already won. So they do have to create these villains.

What a load of barely coherent nonsense. Trying to claim they are victims of something or other.

The problem in New Zealand is not laws, it’s how laws are unevenly policed and applied that’s still a major concern. And why such a high proportion of those prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned are Maori. It’s a complex issue, but the application of laws rather than the laws themselves that are contentious.

She said protesters had not heard the pair speak and were “only repeating what the media have told them and the media are not a particularly clever lot, are they?”

More unsubstantiated bollocks.

It’s not the media who have been driving opposition to and criticism of Southern. They have actually had a go at giving her and Molyneux a say while in New Zealand, which is a good thi9ng, because it has enabled me to see how crazy they can come across.

Molyneux said the difficulty the pair had finding a venue was linked to multiculturalism and its impact on Western values such as free speech.

I don’t see that it had anything to do with ‘multiculturalism’, which has become a meaningless term a bit like ‘neoliberalism’.  Both are now used as labels of something thagt’s supposed to be terrible, but most of those who think they are virtual swear words seem to have little if an y idea what they actually meant, or might mean.

“We had free speech, now we have multiculturalism and free speech is under significant attack and it is crumbling, in particular, in places like New Zealand.”

When did we have ‘free speech’? And what of that has suddenly disappeared because he came to New Zealand?

I’m hearing him speak (via media reports and interviews), and he seems quite free to spout his nonsense.

There are threats to free speech in New Zealand, as there is elsewhere in the world, but it’s a potential threat only. It hasn’t suddenly changed since Molyneux arrived here on Thursday. What happens here is not all about him, it’s not all because of him.

Free speech is not ‘crumbling’ here, that’s a pathetic claim.

Southern added: “If we are to have multiple cultures involved in every facet of our lives does that mean we now need to have witch doctors at our medical conferences or in our hospitals because we can’t make Western medicine the supreme leading medicine in our society.”

Inanity overload there.

I doubt that Southern was forced to wear a grass skirt or kilt, eat fish and chips, fried rice  and mutton roast and sing our awful national anthem while she was here. I don’t think everyone is forced to consume maple syrup and eat seals when they go to Canada.

If Molyneux and Southern dare so averse to cultures mixing why did they come here? We might get tainted!

To me multiculturalism means allowing varied cultures to coexist, overlap, integrate and be enjoyed by anyone who wants to experience them.

That’s how New Zealand has been for two hundred years.

There will be few places in the world that can experience a monoculture frozen in some time warp (which would have to mean no contact with the rest of the world).

I’m glad that Southern and Molyneux had the freedom to be interviewed and to be reported on while in New Zealand. It has shown me how ridiculous some of their ideas are.

But they are likely to be forgotten fairly quickly by nearly all of New Zealand – back to their anonymity up until about a month ago. They won’t be missed.

Multiculturalism, the view that cultures, races, and ethnicities, particularly those of minority groups, deserve special acknowledgement of their differences within a dominant political culture. …

Most modern democracies comprise members with diverse cultural viewpoints, practices, and contributions. Many minority cultural groups have experienced exclusion or the denigration of their contributions and identities in the past. Multiculturalism seeks the inclusion of the views and contributions of diverse members of society while maintaining respect for their differences and withholding the demand for their assimilation into the dominant culture.

That’s a bit different to what I thought.It doesn’t mean that Italian immigrants will insist on crucifixion (except pretend once a year).

It still sounds like nothing to be worried about. That’s still how things have in Aotearoa for yonks.

Winston Peters slams ‘multiculturalism’, wants single NZ culture

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters has slammed ‘multiculturalism’, saying he stands for “a New Zealand culture”.

What is ‘multiculturalism’? According to Oxford:


The presence of, or support for the presence of, several distinct cultural or ethnic groups within a society.

‘our commitment to the values of multiculturalism’

‘the schools promote multiculturalism and inclusiveness’

So that would accept that Māori culture could thrive along side various Pākehā  cultures as well as accepting Pacific Island cultures, Chinese, Indian and other Asian cultures, and smatterings of Scottish in Dunedin (and elsewhere), retain a French flavour in Akaroa, some Englishness in Christchurch and Dalmatians in the north.

It would accept the overlaps and merging of various cultures but accept some distinctiveness would be seen as acceptable.

It would accept that Anglicans and Catholics and Methodists and Jews and Muslims and Buddhists could retain their religious cultures without prejudice or discrimination.

But Peters panders to populism: Winston Peters compares multiculturalism to ‘rising up mushrooms’

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters told talkback radio this morning that he stands for a “New Zealand culture”, not a “multitude of cultures”.

Speaking on whether multiculturalism has “failed”, Mr Peters appeared to argue it has.

“Well, let me tell you. There is one cultural thing we want developed in this country and that’s the New Zealand culture. That’s a unique culture that’s New Zealand,” Mr Peters said.

“It’s not a multitude of cultures and a plethora rising up like mushrooms in this country.

“No, we want a New Zealand culture. That’s what I’ve always stood for.”

It’s a similar message to one he shared on Q+A in 2016.

Back then, he said, “[Immigrants] can come from anywhere in the world. It’s not race-based. We want them to salute our flag, respect our laws, honour our institutions and don’t bring anti-women attitudes with them.”

How many Kiwis salute the archaic flag dominated by the flag of another country and often confused with Australia’s flag?

Of course every New Zealander should respect our laws in general (but have the right to criticise ass laws).

Obviously we shouldn’t want immigrants to bring anti-women attitudes with them, but we have plenty of sexual equality issues that linger in Māori culture and have immigrated long ago from the patriarchal England.

We must be able to choose our own cultural mix without being pigeon holed by populist pandering old politicians. I don’t identify with the legendary pissing up at the Parrot culture apparently favoured by some.

Mr Peters has long stood against so-called “mass immigration”, but has been much quieter on it since becoming Deputy Prime Minister.

That’s probably because he isn’t seeking ignorant votes since the election. New Zealand has nothing like ‘mass migration’, it is strictly controlled, made easy by our remoteness and our very large moat.

‘Mass migration’ seems to have become a deliberately misrepresented and exaggerated euphemism for ‘Muslim migration’, something we don’t have any disproportionate problem with in New Zealand.

Mass migration refers to the migration of large groups of people from one geographical area to another. Mass migration is distinguished from individual or small scale migration; and also from seasonal migration, which may occur on a regular basis.

There is nothing like that here. Peters has repeatedly and deliberately falsely claimed we have mass migration in new Zealand – we haven’t had that since the influx of mostly Europeans in the 1800s.

New Zealand has long been a mix of many immigrant cultures.

There is one ‘New Zealand culture’ I would support – a culture of tolerance of different flavours of cultures, and an easy co-existence with people with different cultural practices and beliefs.

Claiming “a New Zealand culture” may pander to some who want their particular cultural mix to dominate, but it’s a nonsense.

I have never seen any definition of what “a New Zealand culture” would look like, especially from Peters.

Multiculturalism: utopian and dystopian

‘Multiculturalism’ is often condemned, even as far as being the beginning of the end of the world. But it depends a lot on what it actually is. Like many things there can be positives and negatives.

Odakyu-sen tries to address this in a comment at Kiwiblog:

We need to agree on what we mean by ‘multiculturalism’.

I’ll have a go. Here are two types of multiculturalism: utopian and dystopian

‘Good’ multiculturalism

  • Diversity of cultures living together in harmony
  • Fantastic choice of art, festivals, foods, cultural events, etc.
  • Everyone respects everyone else’s customs
  • Everyone can leave their Old World hatreds behind and start afresh in a new country
  • Easy to find people willing to work on Christian holidays
  • Easy to find people willing to work

‘Bad’ multiculturalism

  • Religious division
  • Ancient ethnic/religious hatreds imported and rekindled
  • Imperial/colonial aspirations of some groups
  • Insistence on cultural/religious taboos applying to all groups
  • Jobs for the boys (members of one’s own group)
  • Polyglot issues (see the current voting papers)
  • Fear of excessive competition (for educational places and employment)
    etc., etc.

What do you think “multiculturalism” means?

A very good question.