Identifying as New Zealander or Pākehā

I am a part of a growing trend to identify as a New Zealander and/or Pākehā. If ethnicity questions don’t include either option I put myself as ‘other’ and write New Zealander if there is a box for nominated ethnicity.

The 2018 census had a category of ‘European’, which I strongly object to for myself, I have no affinity with Europe. I put myself down as ‘other’, but many herd identified as from the other side of the world.

Totals from the 2018 census:

  • European 70.2% (74% in 2013)
  • Māori 16.5% (up from 14.9%)
  • Asian 15.1% (up from 11.8%)
  • Pacific peoples 8.1% (up from 7.4%)
  • Middle Eastern/Latin American/African 1.5% (up from 1.2%)
  • Other 1.2% (down from 1.7%)

So I was part of a very small minority.

But in a recent  Stuff-Massey survey of over 70,000 people the numbers were quite different.

  • NZ European 49.73%
  • New Zealander 32.88%
  • Pākehā 11.86%
  • Asian 2.43%
  • Māori 2.29%
  • Pacifika 0,81%

While the sample was large it was self selected so may not represent a cross section of New Zealand, but this is indicative of a trend for many people to identify as a New Zealander, Pākehā (or probably Kiwi if that was an option).

Stuff – Identity Politics and Hyphenated Identities: What do New Zealanders really want for our political future?

The 2020 Stuff-Massey survey is not representative. It under-represents people of colour, and over-represents whites, and older people.

I’m not sure how they worked that out. It’s possible that many ‘people of colour’ identify primarily as a New Zealander.

So who are the “New Zealanders”, who chose not to qualify their nationality with ethnicity? They are demographically diverse, being only slightly older, more male, more often from the South Island, and less affluent than the overall sample. But the real meaning of this category label is in its association with political attitudes.

Self-identified New Zealanders tended to be National Party supporters, who advocated taking a cautious and sceptical stance towards climate change, while Pākehā were Labour supporters in favour of taking urgent action in response to climate change. NZ Europeans were in between, with 39 per cent for National and 43 per cent for Labour, and they were slightly more in favour of urgent action on climate change (39 per cent) compared to being cautious and sceptical (36 per cent).

Overall, there may be just as much, if not more diversity in the political opinions of different groups of white people in NZ compared to between ethnic groups. For in their attitude profiles, Pasifika resembled Pākehā, Māori looked like Pākehā or NZ Europeans, while Asians were similar to NZ Europeans or New Zealanders, depending on the issue.

That suggests a lot more diversity in opinions here than a few generalised ethnic boxes.

I think that in the census and on official forms we should be able to identify as being a New Zealander. ‘European’ is an out of date classification that could be seen by some as colonialist – I have put that in here as I see it as the best chance of getting a foreign box dropped from ethnicity questions.

How immigrant am I?

Picking up on comments made yesterday…

I grew up very Kiwi, or at least a variety of one. I was born and grew up in rural South island, not far from a small town. My view of the world was enclosed by mountain ranges with occasional glimpses beyond, but mostly not far beyond. I saw the wider world via books and Movietone News (that dude had a very strange accent).

I was born in New Zealand so I’m 0% immigrant.

My parents were born in New Zealand (Dunedin and Queenstown) so I’m 0% immigrant.

Three of my grandparents came from the other side of the world in the 1920s so I’m 75% immigrant.

Seven of my great grandparents came from the other side of the world so I’m 87.5% immigrant.

100% of my 16 great great grandparents were immigrants – one of my great great grandmothers immigrated to Canterbury when she was 13 with her parents in 1852.

New Zealand as it is today is based on immigrants. The immigrants over the past 200 years have also to a significant degree integrated and merged with the indigenous immigrants.

There are a wide variety of cultural practices in New Zealand.

Accents have changed significantly in my lifetime. Newer immigrants may be more noticeable, but each generation of immigrants has brought changes on the various Kiwi accents in use today.

I’m 100% Kiwi/New Zealander and I’m 100% immigrant, merged into an ever evolving mix of cultures.

Wrong photo, right questions

The ODT editorial today Human rights and wrongs looks mainly at the human wrongs of detentions in Australia, with the majority being New Zealanders incarcerated. And it rightly questions the lack of action here about it.

They open with a wider world examples of human rights violations:


But I have no idea why they have included a photo of Donald Trump who is not mentioned in the editorial and appears to have nothing to do with it.

They then go on to discuss the actual target of their attention, detentions in Australia, and in particular detention of New Zealanders..

It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore another disturbing perpetrator, though; one much closer to home.

There aren’t many images of Australia’s offshore immigration detention centres and “processing” facilities. The isolated facilities on Christmas Island, Manus Island and Nauru house the world’s unwanted (mostly asylum seekers), and are largely off limits to media. There are plenty of reports, however. Reports from journalists, human rights organisations, detainees and their families. Reports of riots, of physical and sexual abuse, of deaths, of suicides. Reports now, which raise concerns about the fate of Manus Island detainees when the centre closes after Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled it illegal and unconstitutional.

There are other reports, and images, regarding the treatment of juveniles in Australian detention centres. A royal commission into the detention of children in the Northern Territory has been announced, although Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has rejected calls to extend that to a national inquiry.

The documentary revealing apparently appalling practices of juvenile detentions in NT are disturbing, but there have also been attempts to justify at least some of the practices.

And it has just been confirmed New Zealanders now hold the unenviable position of being the biggest nationality of people held in Australian detention centres. These are the unlucky Kiwis, many who have lived most of their lives in the “lucky country” but, because they have committed a crime at some stage that involved more than a year of jail time, are now deemed to have failed a “good character” test, eligible to be repunished, have their visas revoked, and to be locked up ahead of being shipped “home” to a country some of them barely know.

What is going on?

Australia seems to be determined to rid itself of some Kiwi pests. Generally the pests being detained have been involved in some sort of serious criminal activity in the past.

It is worth noting that there some more extreme demands here in New Zealand to banish people with certain religious affiliations due to the criminal actions of unrelated people on the other side of the world.


Whatever the reasons, Australia seems unaware of (or wilfully blind to) the irony of its actions as it continues to push for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council for 2018-20. Indeed, it has been slammed by the UN and human rights organisations for its record on various issues.

That does seem to be a contradictory goal.

What also continues to be concerning is the remarkable lack of interest or pressure from our Government – about human rights in general and New Zealanders’ human rights in particular.

Is it a case of turning a blind eye? After all, we have been taken to task on human rights, too. Is it a case of you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours? (We’ll support your Human Rights Council bid if you support our bid for Helen Clark as secretary-general?) Is it that, in actual fact, we don’t really care about these people either?

The apparent lack of concern for and action about what is happening to New Zealanders in Australia is concerning. Especially if there is some ‘blind eye’ stuff going on, but that appears to be just speculation.

There is no doubt some of the New Zealand detainees have been violent offenders. Many have done the crimes, but they have also done the time. Some have simply found themselves caught up in this bizarre new policy.

It certainly appears neither supposedly fair-minded country is prepared to advocate for these people. But human rights don’t work like that. They work for everyone. If a country is a signatory to international human rights conventions – not to mention hoping to be a world leader when it comes to promoting them – there’s no cherry picking. One size fits all. Leaders on both sides of the Tasman could do with remembering that.

Not just remembering that. They should be acting as if their countries’ commitments on human rights are viewed and taken seriously.


The soft and loud of “Pākehā”

(I have posted and reposted this in 2012 and 2014 but some who haven’t seen it might be interested).

I’ve often wondered what ethnicity to call myself.

I’ve never felt anything like “European”.  I only recently visited Europe for the first time in my life, and didn’t go to the countries my ancestors emigrated from.

— adj
1.     of or relating to Europe or its inhabitants
2.     native to or derived from Europe
— n
3.     a native or inhabitant of Europe
4.     a person of European descent

I’m of European descent, but then a lot of the world except Africa could probably claim some European link. Anyway, I see “European” as having a link to Europe now, not some time in the distant past.

“Caucasian” is another term sometimes used but it sounds more remote to me than European.

Anthropology . of, pertaining to, or characteristic of one of the traditional racial divisions of humankind, marked by fair to dark skin, straight to tightly curled hair, and light to very dark eyes, and originally inhabiting Europe, parts of North Africa, western Asia, and India: no longer in technical use.

So technically, that’s not me either.

usage: The word Caucasian  is very widely used in the US to refer to people of European origin or people who are White, even though the original classification was broader than this

And I have no US heritage so ruled out there too.

So I should be using some local description. I certainly identify as a New Zealander and a Kiwi, so in a wider sense that is appropriate.

As slang for “a New Zealander,” it is attested from 1918.

That sounds fine, but it isn’t universally known. I was talking to an American once who only knew a kiwi as a brown furry fruit, the sort that was called a Chinese gooseberry back in the old days.

New Zealander
— n
a native or inhabitant of New Zealand

Yip, I’m one of those. But what sort of a New Zealander am I?

I was put off a common native language description, Pākehā, because I’ve heard some fairly derogatory “definitions” relating to fleas or fat pigs, but I’ve done some research that pretty much rules them out. What does Pākehā mean then?

1. (loan) (noun) New Zealander of European descent.
Te rongonga o te Māori i te reo kihi, hoihoi, o Kāpene Kuki rātou ko ōna hōia ka kīia e te Māori he Pakepakehā, ka whakapotoa nei ki te Pākehā. Nā te Māori tēnei ingoa i hua e mau nei anō (TP 1/1911:5). / When the Māori heard the soft and loud sounds of the language of Captain Cook and his sailors the Māori called them ‘Pakepakehā’, which was shortened to ‘Pākehā’. The Māori created this name. which is still used.

That sounds reasonable enough. What else is known about it? From Wikipedia:

There have been several dubious interpretations given to the word Pākehā. One claims that it derives from poaka the Māori word for (pig), and keha, one of the Māori words for (flea), and therefore expresses derogatory implications. There is no etymological or linguistic support for this notion.

Although some are apparently offended I’m happy with the derogatory versions being ruled out.

The origins of the term are unclear, but it was in use by the late 18th century. Opinions of the term vary amongst those it describes. Some find it highly offensive, others are indifferent, some find it inaccurate and archaic, while some happily use the term and find the main alternatives such as New Zealand European inappropriate.

New Zealand European seems very strange, associating opposites, like an Arctic penguin.

Historian Judith Binney called herself a Pākehā and said, “I think it is the most simple and practical term. It is a name given to us by Māori. It has no pejorative associations like people think it does — it’s a descriptive term. I think it’s nice to have a name the people who live here gave you, because that’s what I am.

I can comfortably agree with that.

So depending on the circumstance I’m happy to describe myself as any of New Zealander, Kiwi or Pākehā.

Why “go back to where you came from” is unacceptable

Andrew Chen has explained why Ron Mark’s comments in Parliament were “simply not acceptable” in “Go back to where you came from.”

I agree fully with Andrew’s post. Mark’s comments and the support of them from most of NZ First caucus is disturbing from a party in Parliament. It disgraces their name “New Zealand First”. They only represent a minority in New Zealand who are intolerant of ofther New Zealanders, or they are prepared to use and abuse some New Zealanders to try and build support from their rascist and intolerant constituency.

It’s very sad to hear of some of the things Andrew has experienced during his lifetime as a New Zealander.

When I was 9 years old, I went to a friend’s house to play Age of Empires. Some of his extended family happened to be there at the time, and his step-father asked me “where are you from?” Truthfully, I answered “Birkenhead”, the suburb where I lived. His response was “Don’t you be cheeky, where are you actually from?” Confused, I answered “Here?” Suddenly, he held me in a headlock and shouted “you bloody well know what I mean, where are you from?” The sounds of laughter from the rest of the room rang in my ears. I managed to mumble something like “my parents are from Taiwan.” He let go and said “that wasn’t that hard, was it?”

When I was 13 years old, I was a patrol leader at my local scout troop. One of the other scouts was sitting on an empty wooden box and swinging his legs against the sides, creating a lot of noise. I asked him to stop because the constant banging was making me uncomfortable and a little bit anxious. He said “you can’t tell me what to do, this is my country.” I had to go sit somewhere else.

When I was 15 years old, I was sitting in math class at the desk closest to the door. It was open, and a breeze was blowing in. While the class was working on some exercises, I asked the teacher if I could close the door because I was getting a bit cold. He said “If you think it’s too cold maybe you should go back to Asia.” I replied with “I was born here” and shut the door. When I later told a friend that racism was well and alive within our school she told me to “stop being ridiculous”.

That NZ First pander to that sort of intolerant and harmful attitude is also very sad.

Memories of those experiences came back to Andrew when he hear Mark’s comments.

I don’t like these memories. I don’t like sharing these memories either, but maybe this can demonstrate to some people why the statement to go back to where you came from is offensive. I cannot bear to imagine what life must be like for migrants living in less ethnically tolerant areas of the country.

There’s a proportion of the population that is not just innloreant of peoeple they deem to be different, whether it be different race, nationality, hair colour, religion or whatever. They express their intolerance in a nasty way.

Some of them don’t think they are being nasty, but they don’t understand how dissy comments they think are innocuous can hurt others.

One of the worst ways to hurt is to imply or say someone shouldn’t live in the place they have chosen to live, or have lived all their lives.

For Ron Mark’s NZ First colleagues to back him up only further reiterates that this behaviour is apparently okay. Winston Peters said that any claims of racism were “poppycock”. Barbara Stewart said that the comment was not racist and was “taken out of context” (when his comments were very much in the context of a racist speech targeting public holidays in Korea and India and implying that these other countries have too many public holidays; in fact his entire speech was laced with derision and offence). Pita Paraone said “it was said in the heat of the moment as part of the theatre of Parliament.” None of these statements are anywhere near satisfactory for a parliament that seeks to represent an increasingly multicultural nation. The closest we got was Tracey Martin saying “it’s not a statement I would have made.”

That’s an awful reflection on the New Zealand First party who put the most intolerant first and promote other New Zealanders as second class citizens, or worse.

Ron Mark makes it clear that Lee and Bakshi are not real New Zealanders when he says in his speech “while we know certain people are toeing the National Party line like a little bunch of whipped puppies, back in their world they would never, ever dare stand up and say this.” His use of “back in their world” effectively says that the fact that Lee and Bakshi have been in New Zealand for 27 and 14 years respectively is worth nothing. “Go back to where you came from” is a phrase that has always been loaded with xenophobia, and I really don’t see a context where it could be used to mean anything other than “you’re not welcome because you’re not from here.”

It doesn’t matter to me that Ron Mark was directing his statement at migrants and I was born here. The common racist usually doesn’t take the time to establish my place of birth.

A person with Mark’s political experience must know what he was doing through his remarks in Parliament, and he has since chosen to defend them. He seems willing to use shitty attacks on New Zealanders to try and further his own political ambitions.

I’m grateful to the various people, both in and outside of the House, who have criticised the comments and refused to let it slide. It helps me to feel a bit of hope that one day this type of racism and xenophobia can be eliminated. It strengthens my resolve to stay here and try to make New Zealand a better place.

I’m more than happy to not let the behaviour or Ron Mark (supported by Winston Peters and NZ First) slide.

New Zealand is a better place with people like Andrew Chen as much a part of our country as me. And we need to ensure that Mark and NZ First don’t get away with trying to make it a worse place chasing their own selfish ambitions.

Andrew Chen sounds like a decent New Zealander. And Ron Mark doesn’t.

“Go back to where you came from” is unacceptable from any New Zealander, and especially so from a Member of Parliament.

Labour president disses “mythical political centre”

Labour’s party president has shuns pursiing a “mythical political centre” in an opening night speech at the Labour Partry 2015 conference.

President Nigel Haworth delivers his address to – the opportunities ahead and the challenges facing us.

Embedded image permalink

From his speech:

Labour President Nigel Haworth: need to be true to our principles, not pursue a “mythical political centre”

I wonder if that excludes working for the real political centre.

Also at the conference Andrew Little said “Our moral obligation is to do the best for New Zealanders.”

He didn’t say out loud ‘Our moral obligation is to do the best for New Zealanders…except those in the centre’.

If Labour shuns the centre and pursues it’s historical Labour ideals they will somewhat narrow their appeal.

Human Headline: “WARNING: for legal reasons access to this page is illegal in New Zealand”

The Official Derryn Hinch Webstite Human Headline is based in Australia so isn’t covered by New Zealand suppression orders (Hinch is a prominent ex New Zealander who has a radio show Hinch Live).

From time to time he has put up posts with warnings like this:

WARNING: for legal reasons, access to this page is illegal in New Zealand

I don’t know the law well enough so don’t know if that is correct. Every individual must judge for themselves whether they should heed Hinch’s warnings.

He has this warning on his latest post:

HinchWarningThat’s an image so you can’t follow the link from here as that may be illegal.

But it highlights the difficulty suppression orders have in the Internet age.

Mike Sabin a prominent elephant in the Northland room

The Northland by-election is due to Mike Sabin’s mystery resignation.

Press Release: New Zealand National Party

Northland MP, Mike Sabin, today announced he has resigned from Parliament, effective immediately.

Mr Sabin said he had decided to resign due to personal issues that were best dealt with outside Parliament.

That’s all the public have been told. Except that it remains a prominent topic in the campaign, albeit spoken about in code public, but just about every New Zealander seems to think there is some sort of dirty secret. The rumours must be common knowledge in Northland.

SabinElephantThere seems to be general acknowledgement that a concurrent story is related.

National candidate Mark Osborne has struggled with awkward questions about the ex-MP he wants to replace.

Plunket: Oh there were rumours. And you had heard the rumours?

Osborne: Oh yes.

Plunket: Yes. Did you ask Mr Sabin or did anyone ask Mr Sabin to clarify those rumours when he was re-selected as the candidate?

Osborne: Well I can’t speak for anybody else, but ah I asked if he was ok.

Plunket: Well what do you mean, did you ask if there was anything that might damage his candidacy or the National party?

Osborne: No no I didn’t, no I just…

National, Sabin, Osborne, train wreck

Winston Peters uses Sabin as a key part of his campaign strategy:

Winston Peters: Nats covering up Sabin issue

The New Zealand First leader used his personal “paradise” to launch a political attack at the town hall, accusing National of covering up why MP Mike Sabin left Parliament.

“They are still trying to shut it down as we speak,” he says.

Mr Peters says the National Party knew before the election of a police investigation into Mr Sabin.

“That’s why $1 million is being spent on this by-election, to cover up that mess.”

National are spending big and keep rolling out their big guns to try and rescue a by-election disaster. Trying to sweep the Sabin elephant under a rug is part of their strategy, but is there any Northland voter who hasn’t heard the rumours?

He also accused his opponent Mark Osborne, who was the local party treasurer and a friend of Mr Sabin’s, of knowing about Mr Sabin’s issues.

But Mr Osborne denies the allegation.

“The reality of it is I knew nothing until the end of last year, and they are only rumours, and that is what they are still,” he says. “I still know nothing about the details.”

Osborne is playing right into Winston’s hand with his denials. I doubt anyone believes he didn’t know something. And it’s preposterous to still be claiming he doesn’t know about the details.

A candidate in his situation would surely make it their business to know what the details are, unless it is deliberate ignorance – but even that isn’t credible.

Sabin remains an elephant in the Northland room and if Osborne chooses to pretend it isn’t there he courts trouble and risks getting stomped on. And National will have to wear own the resulting mess.

Chris Trotter versus revolutionary reality

Chris Trotter aslks (in a verbose and round about way): While Evils Are Sufferable: What would it take to rouse New Zealanders to revolt?

Not being natural ideologues, we struggle to make the connections between the neoliberal policies imposed upon this country by successive governments since 1984 (none of which have ever had the courage to seek an explicit electoral mandate for the entirety of the neoliberal programme they intended to pursue) and the appalling social consequences to which those policies have given rise.

Not being natural ideologues and anti-ideologues like Trotter.

Although the cause-and-effect relationship between cuts to mental health services and successful suicide attempts is indisputable, very few New Zealanders would consider it fair or appropriate to lay those deaths at the door of the responsible Cabinet Minister. Similarly, most Kiwis would feel uncomfortable about sheeting home the blame for child abuse and domestic violence to a government’s failure to pursue policies of full-employment and the provision of public housing. Many of us regard such ills as the unavoidable “collateral damage” of responsible public administration.

Where most New Zealanders would draw the line, I suspect, is at the suggestion that their government might be willing to sacrifice the life, or lives, of a New Zealand citizen, or citizens, in the pursuit of purely partisan political objectives.

The protection of its citizens, both at home and abroad, is the first and most fundamental duty of any government. To abrogate that duty, for whatever reason (other than to ward-off an imminent and deadly threat to the whole population) would not be accepted by the vast majority of New Zealanders.

Were it to be proved that the government had been willing to allow one or more of its citizens to be reduced to a mere pawn and then ruthlessly sacrificed in some partisan political chess game, that might just be enough to see Kiwi “prudence” thrust angrily aside.

Such a government would have forfeited all claim to moral and political legitimacy. Channelling the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, many thousands of New Zealanders might even conclude that, in the face of such insufferable evil, it was their right – and their duty – to throw off such a Government, and provide new guards for their future security.

I think I know what Trotter is angling at, but I don’t think he’s on a revolutionary track there.

There are probably not many Kiwis who share Trotters interest in Jeffersonian history.

A handful of ever-hopefuls like Trotter and Redbaiter dream of a grand revolution that fixes everything (but I’m not sure what the outcome would be if Trotter and Redbaiter inspire revolts at the same time).

A comment in response to Trotter’s latest treatise from Ian is far more succinct and closer to real life.

Getting New Zealanders to revolt is easy. Firstly stop broadcasting rugby and Coronation street, stop producing Marmite, and decrease the fishing quota for the average Joe Bloggs. That ought to do it.

Charged with serious offences, name suppressed

NZ Herald: Prominent New Zealander charged with serious offences

A prominent New Zealander has been charged with serious offences, but a blanket suppression order means details of the case cannot be made public at this stage.

The man’s case came before a district court this morning. He was remanded at large to reappear on February 19.

I have no knowledge of who this person is.

Yet another prominent New Zealander gets name suppression, but this is early in the charging process so not unusual.

It will be interesting to see if the suppression is lifted. As usual there will be a lot of speculation.