Zero authority to comment on Ayjhin menu

One person’s taking the piss can be another person’s racism. I get that.

But I also think that while anyone has the right to complain about something they think is racist no one has any authority to tell me I have no authority to comment on a topic in the news and in public discussion. ‘You can’t comment on that because you’re not…’ is an increasingly common way of trying to shut down or sanitise discussion.

I may or may not be a target of a claim I have zero authority to comment on this story: Asian fusion, with a side of racism

By Anny Ma *

Opinion – It pains me greatly that in 2018 this even needs to be said, but mocking another culture (or group) for your own amusement is not funny – it’s degrading.

I am constantly reminded that my heritage is actually just a punchline, despite descending from one of the oldest civilisations of the world with an incredibly rich history and culture.

Bamboozle restaurant in my ‘not that racist’ hometown of Christchurch has further proved this, by creating a menu where Asian Fusion dishes are named by childishly butchering words through phonetically writing them out “how an Asian would speak”.

This far too common trope is based on degrading stereotypes, and while some Asians may have thicker accents as they (very admirably) learn another language to help them assimilate into Western culture, making fun of them for this is completely unnecessary.

The small-minded may be amused by this for three seconds, but the people on the receiving end of this ‘joke’ will remember the incredible discomfort, embarrassment, and self-loathing you made them feel for much, much longer.

Since the menu was posted online, there’s been a lot of commentary provided by those with zero authority on the topic. If you are not Asian, this is not the time to tell us we can’t be offended, or to “lighten up” as 59 percent of voters in a Stuff poll thought.

Even the Human Rights Commission has had a say – perhaps because they are critical they don’t have zero authority?


There have also been comments by people like Professor James Liu of Massey University, who found the menu insensitive but said he believed there was no malicious intent so didn’t go as far as labelling it racist.

Unfortunately, ‘Racism’ is a word that causes more shock than the behaviour itself. Being a minority, I completely understand being in a situation where you don’t want to upset the status quo for fear of negative consequences.

‘Racist’ has quite varied meanings and perceptions – it’s different things to different people.

When “people on the receiving end of this ‘joke’ will remember the incredible discomfort, embarrassment, and self-loathing you made them feel for much, much longer” there could be a genuine problem, but it is impossible to never be offensive to anyone.

It’s not just racism that can hurt, as anyone who is very overweight can probably attest to, as can those who are naturally blond or naturally red headed, those who are unusually short or tall – anyone who bears the brunt of jokes or taunts because they are ‘different’.

How many Irish people are offended by Irish jokes?

There’s a range of views on the Asian restaurant thing at at Reddit: Asian Fusion with a side of racism.

Included is this comment and image:

Am Chinese, would go with the Professor saying it’s culturally insensitive, but I don’t think it’s racist, just mildly offended.

Its just like how I refuse to give business to White and Wong’s in Auckland purely because of the name, but I’m not going to go on a public outcry to get them to stop. Some people will enjoy the play on words. Some people will enjoy the humour in that menu. It’s just like how I still laugh at this sometimes…

…how is this any different to that menu?

And how is that different to this KIWI-ESE “Introductory Guide To The Language”

What You Hear, What It Means
A MEDGEN: Visualise, Conjure up mentally, also John Lenon’s first solo Album “Imagine”
BETTING: “Betting Gloves” are worn by “Betsmen” in “Crucket”
BRIST: Part of the human anatomy between the “Nick” and the “Billy”
RUST: Part of the human anatomy between the “Fingers” and the “Elbow”
BUGGER: As in “My dad’s bugger then yours”
FUSHEN CHUPS: What good Catholics eat each Friday.
CHULLY BUN: “Chilly Bin” also known as an Esky or Cold Box
COME YOUSE: Controversial captain of the Australian Cricket team resigned tearfully in favour of Allan Border. “Come” insisted thut all deliveries be over arm. Full Name: Kimberley John Hughes.
DIMMER KRETZ: Those who believe in Democracy.
ERROR BUCK: Language spoken in countries like “Surria”, “E-Jupp” &”Libernon”
EKKA DYMOCKS: University Staff
GUESS: Flammable vapour used in stoves
CHICK OUT CHUCKS: Supermarket point of sale operators.
SENDLES: Sandles, thongs & open shoes.
COLOUR” Terminator, violent forecloser of human life, murderer
CUSS: Kiss
DUCK HID: Term of abuse directed mainly at males.
PHAR LAP: NZ’s famous horse christened “Phillip” but wasincorrectly written down as “Phar Lap” by an Australian Racing official who was not well versed in KIWIESE
DUNNESTY: US Television soap opera starred Joan Collins as Elixirs Kerrungton
ERROR ROUTE: Arnott’s famous oval shaped “mulk error route buskets”
FITTER CHENEY: A type of long flat pasta, not to be confused with “Rugger Tony” or “Tellya, Tilly”.

I think that’s quite clever and funny, but if I worked in Australia and had that sort of thing thrown at me over and over perhaps I’d get a bit annoyed.


As a Chinese person, I’m pretty annoyed by it. I get enough shit from drunks yelling at me to “go back to my country” and saying shit like “HERROOOO”.

Intentional personal abuse is crap. But is a joke menu really in the same vein?

Perhaps someone would be offended by the name ‘Frog and Kiwi Restaurant’ – and if so would that be a French person or a New Zealander?Someone may be offended if I say it is located in Mungify.

It is “a small family run French restaurant in the village of Mangawhai, New Zealand”, with no frog legs nor kiwi wings on the menu.

Language in a multicultural society with veins of intolerance interlaced with strands of piss taking can be a tricky thing.

If anyone takes offence at this post you are free to state your views, if they are not too unreasonable or offensive.

This site has been called a number of things – I think Yawnz is one of the funnier plays on words. But should i be offended? I’m in a tiny minority of people who participate here, so perhaps I have some authority on that.

Different views and racism at The Standard

Some interesting discussions and reactions about racism at The Standard, triggered by the debate over Donald Trump’s shithole comments.

Yesterday Bill posted Two Faced Liberalism.

Anyone want to lay out what the essential difference might be between picking and choosing between broad categories of migrants and picking and choosing between broad categories of migrants?

What’s the difference at play in preferring “skilled” migrants over supposedly “unskilled” ones or Norwegian migrants over Haitian ones; moneyed ones over poor ones? Liberals might argue that the former and latter are nuanced and better targeting for economic exploitation than the middle one. And some might point out that the middle is informed by racism while the former and latter aren’t. But then, that last point is just to argue that some forms of discrimination are okay while others aren’t.

Anyone inclined to get on a high horse over Trump splabbing shit about preferring Norwegian migration to Haitian migration should, surely, get all fired up over preferring those who might be considered economically exploitable to those who might be considered economic liabilities. It’s the same shit afterall – born of discrimination.

And while we’re here, Haiti is a shit-hole. Would you live there? Or would you want to bring up a family there? I wouldn’t.

I don’t really know much about current Haiti, but it’s home for over 10 million people. Perhaps many of them wouldn’t be fussed about living in New Zealand.

To slam Trump for his bullshit as though it’s such a terrible thing to refer to a place as a shit-hole (who hasn’t referred to some place as a shit-hole?) and ignore why Haiti and other places on Trump’s list are “places polite society would never refer to in that way”, isn’t just facile – it’s the height of cold fucking hypocrisy.

You give a shit about Haiti and the people living there? Do you? Really!? Or is indulging in a bit of excited monkey spanking over successfully identifying with those who would deem themselves superior to a guy you don’t like, on the basis they’d never (apparently) refer to a place with predominantly black or brown populations by way of Trump’s uncouth terminology – is that all that matters?

Actually one of the latest ‘clarifications’ is that while Trump was critical of Haiti in relation to US immigration he didn’t refer to that country as a shithole (he referred to others as such though).

There was limited reaction to that post at The Standard, but Matthew Whitehead commented:

If Haiti is a shithole, Bill, it’s because the rest of the world has been digging around and shitting on it for quite some time.

It’s really unjust to agree that a developing country like Haiti a is shithole just because it’s been colonized, and is still having wealth transferred out of it, by overseas interests. I would have expected better of you. It’s also very dismissive of the fact that people like you and I might actually have things we could learn from people in Haiti.

I would actually argue that all the types of migration restrictions you mention are informed by discrimination, but okay. I agree there is an inconsistency to thinking skilled migration is fine and opposing the rhetoric of white supremacy, although it isn’t a direct inconsistency that everyone finds easy and obvious because it’s an argument that relies on statistics, not direct inference.

And yes, I actually do give a shit about countries that are less well-off than New Zealand, like Haiti, or Samoa, and have previously given both time (and I don’t mean by spreading “awareness,” lol) and money to help make the situation just a little bit better.

Bill replied:

…it’s because the rest of the world has been digging around and shitting on it for quite some time.

Well, yes. Did you bother reading the link before commenting? The link that comes after You want racism? Read Johnathan M. Katz’s opinion piece… and before There are very specific and traceable reasons as to why Haiti, El Salvador and however many African states might be referred to as ‘shit-holes’. And every single one traces back to liberal capitalism.

I also provided a “get out” clause for anyone who might have felt the urge to get all defensive, but it seems you missed it Matthew. I made no assumption about whether any individual reader of this post has sailed on by the historical colonial context of Haiti and other countries or not. I asked if a bit of excited monkey spanking over successfully identifying with those who would deem themselves superior to a guy you don’t like was taking precedence to giving a shit. Ample room right there for a simple “no”. 😉

There was some discussion on Twitter:

Removing a post would have been a drastic way to deal with it, and would likely have caused a split at The Standard. Instead Presland wisely chose to do a posy of his own providing some different views – Racist dog whistling

We may think that we now live in more enlightened times where the scourge of racism is finally being dealt to and racist behaviour by politicians is no longer considered acceptable.

But recent events suggest to me that racist memes are still being used by the calculating to stir up political support from the bewildered.

A classic example of race baiting has occurred recently in Australia.  Victoria, which currently has a State Labor government, has an election later on in the year.  Clearly the Liberals would love to win back power.  So the Turnbull Government has made a big thing about gangs of young Africans causing problems in Melbourne and how Melbournians are afraid to go out at night.  Peter Dutton, whose level of odiousness almost matches that of Trump, has front footed the attack.  And things have been egged on by Rupert Murdoch owned papers.

Dutton chose to use the right wing playbook.  He attacked the Andrews Government for appointing “weak” judges and suggested that the non existing law and order problem was all because of liberals (small l).

But just when you thought that no politician could sink lower than Dutton Donald Trump describes most of the developing countries as Shithole.  Put aside his misogynist views, his lack of understanding, his overt belligerence, his anti environmental crusade, his attack on the poor and support for the rich and the threat he poses to world peace these comments should result in his removal from office.  In a properly functioning democracy …

But this is a weakness of the democratic system.  Pedalling lies and threatening racial tolerance for political gain should result in automatic failure, every time.  That it does not, and that it is seen to be a legitimate political tool by the right means that we have a problem.

It’s not just been a political tool of the right in New Zealand, with Winston Peters pushing dog whistle racism boundaries regularly, and Labour’s disaster over Chinese sounding name mis-analysis a couple of years ago.

Claims of racism from the left in an attempt to shut down discussion are not uncommon either, as the exchange on Twitter shows.

This is valid and healthy discussion to have here, so good on The Standard for providing a forum for diverse views rather than trying to squash discussion.

Some emotive and interesting comments on that second post. Shona:

My daughter had a knife held to her throat and was threatened with death while a Sudanese 16 year old youth groped her in Central Melbourne during daylight work hours, while she was carrying our her job. i have NO SYMPATHY for these assholes. The aggression against the Sudanese is because of their fucked up religious views of women amongst other things.

And no those views are not to be tolerated in a modern society.They do not give a rats arse about western values. And no Australia and NZ do not need these fucking people . Now out will come all the dearly deluded members of NZ’s oh so tolerant left telling me what a racist I am. I am an atheist and an old fashioned working class feminist . Fuck these people we don’t need em!

A feminist racist? It sounds like she has good reason to be angry, but her target appears to be too broad.

Gristle responded:

A cousin of mine was raped at knife point in the South of USA by a couple of whites.

Am I now meant to think that all white Americans are like that due to their race, nationality, religion? I mean look at the fundamentalist, racist, sexists, class hating people in the USA. (And that includes so many in power.)

“Fuck these people we don’t need them(?)”


And my son was stabbed fourteen times by a NZ born white crohn’s disease sufferer who was unemployed and is now in jail. I’m unaware of any religious or misogynist views held by this asshole but obviously he’s from a group that is also not needed in this country (using your logic).

These are isolated personal experiences so it’s fair to cut them some slack if over-reacting.

But we hope that our politicians, and politicians in leadership positions such as Peters and Trump, should have more consideration for a bigger picture than appeasing their own base of racists supporters.

‘Suffering in silence’ from racism

The Human Rights Commission today launched a new campaign against racial intolerance, fronted by actor and director Taika Waititi.

RNZ:  New Zealanders ‘suffering in silence’ from racism

Racial intolerance is getting worse in New Zealand but most of those targeted suffer in silence, Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy says.

She said Waititi, as New Zealander of the Year, was an obvious choice to front the ‘Give Nothing To Racism’ campaign – and she contacted him while he was away working in the United States.

“I sent him a letter, and some Pineapple Lumps, to Los Angeles,” she said. “He took a day off working on Thor and did this.”

Dame Susan said one in three formal complaints to the Human Rights Commission was about racial discrimination, but the overwhelming majority of people never complained when they were humiliated or abused.

“I’m seeing and hearing every day from people in the community that are talking about the racial attacks on them,” she told Morning Report.

When there was an event such as a terrorist attack overseas, Muslim people, particularly women and children, were targeted, she said.

“Women who are visually diverse in New Zealand who wear a hijab talk all the time about being racially abused at bus stops and schools and in their communities.

“And what is sad about that is nobody comes to their defence.”

No one group was being targeted in New Zealand, and racist abuse was not limited to recent immigrants.

“Fourth-generation New Zealanders are still telling me that they’re the butt of racist jokes or being told to go home,” she said

There was a rise in racial hatred overseas and in New Zealand.

“I believe that things are getting worse and the reality is most people don’t complain about this.”

Dame Susan said everyone had a responsibility to speak up against racism, and urged politicians to refrain from pulling the race card in the lead-up to the election.

Winston peters reacted negatively to this.

This is the second stage of the commission’s anti-racism campaign. Last September it launched the ‘That’s Us’ campaign with a website that enabled people to share their personal stories of racism.


Peters plays media with racist taunts

Winston Peters may have had a reasonable point to make about a Herald item today on immigration, but his attack on two journalists with Asian sounding names was widely criticised and deplored.

The Herald has responded with a statement from the editor.

The original Herald article: Top source countries for migrant workers are not Asian

A rise in work visas has been the driving force behind record immigration numbers but the main source countries are not from Asia.

A Herald analysis into immigration data found work visa arrivals increased from 16,787 in 2004 to 41,576 last year.

The top five source countries for work last year are the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, South Africa and the United States of America.

The United Kingdom, which made up 16.6 per cent of work visas issued, has twice as many as those of Germany on 8.8 per cent.

Australians do not require visas to work in New Zealand – the Statistics New Zealand
figures however shows people coming from Australia as their last country of residence.

A response from the journalists: Why Winston Peters got it wrong: The Herald responds to his attack on our journalists

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters today released a media statement about the Herald’s coverage of work visas and the top five source countries for work visas last year. The statement’s opening paragraph read: “New Zealand Herald propaganda written by two Asian immigrant reporters stating the top five source nations for work visas are not Asian is completely wrong and based on flawed analysis, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.” Here is the response from those reporters, Harkanwal Singh and Lincoln Tan.

A decent way to address a contentious issue by Michael Reddell: Which countries did Essential Skills visa grantees come from in the last year?

News on another immigration record: Record migration puts squeeze on housing, roads and the Government

Related video: Watch NZH Focus: Net migration to New Zealand has hit another record


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.

Are we a country of casual racists?

Apparently claims have been made that we are a country of casual racists because of something one person said on a ‘reality’ TV show. Mass blaming because of one comment seems ridiculous, but Heather du Plessis-Allen has written a column about it.

NZH: Give the prejudice test a go

Now seems an opportune time to test your bigotry, given claims that The Real Housewives of Auckland proves we’re a country of casual racists.

I don’t think a comment by one attention seeking housewife from Auckland has got anything to do with me.

In the latest – and most dramatic – episode, housewife Julia Sloane – who is white – refers to another housewife – who is not white – as a boat n*****.

Things go understandably awry.

There is crying, yelling and a champagne glass used as a projectile.

Call me cynical, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the term, that I would have thought was rarely used in New Zealand, was staged to stir up publicity. Isn’t that how those programs work? Yeah, I’m prejudiced against programs like that.

It’s a surprise anyone still uses the n-word this side of the millennium. It’s the second-most offensive word in New Zealand and has been for at least 17 years, according to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

But, it’s a little hysterical to claim this is proof New Zealand is populated by a horde of casual racists who treat other ethnicities with the kind of cavalier disregard suggested by a phrase like casual racism.

I don’t know whether the mass blaming was done hysterically or not but it’s both stupid and it’s offensive to me.

Still, the event has given us a good chance to have a hunt around the attic of our attitudes and toss out a few we don’t need anymore. This is, after all, week two of a debate about racism in New Zealand.

Last week we questioned whether Nikolas Delegat – the son of winemaker Jim Delegat – received a seemingly light sentence for assaulting a policewoman because he was white. We also asked why white first-time offenders are twice as likely as Maori offenders to be let off with only a pre-charge warning.

In the same week, I met a woman in a regional city who twice referred to Maori men as “boy”, in one case in the presence of the man in question, who looked like he’d seen about 40 more summers than your average boy.

Terms like “boy” are at worst loaded with connotations of slavery and oppression and at best patronising.

There is certainly quite a bit of racism and racist attitudes in New Zealand, but there is also quite a bit of blaming everyone for the sins of some.

So, perhaps now is the time to spring clean ourselves of our racist attitudes.

Give the prejudice test a go.

She is referring to what is claimed to be a simple test, but I don’t know how well it applies to New Zealand.

But you can try it and see if you are a casual racist or not.

It looks like you are supposed to read the disclaimer, click on agree and then then choose the Race option.


A Scottish view on Brexit

Liam McIlvanney , the Stuart Professor of Scottish Studies at the University of Otago, gives a Scottish view on Brexit.

Why has Scotland risen above the anti-immigrant mood that fuelled the Brexit vote?

If it achieves nothing else, Brexit will have taught the world that England is not the same as the United Kingdom. On the results map of the EU referendum, the rising tide of Brexit was cut off rather crisply at the Scottish border.

Scotland voted to remain in the EU by a convincing margin (62% to 38%) and with striking unanimity: all 32 of the country’s electoral areas returned a Remain majority.

How did this happen?

One answer is that Scotland’s revolt against distant, uncaring elites is already under way – only it’s aimed at Westminster rather than Brussels.

The Scottish independence movement, galvanised by the referendum of 2014 and boosted by the Brexit fiasco, appeals to precisely those communities that voted for Brexit in England.

Crucially, Scotland’s independence movement blames neither the European Union nor the presence of immigrants for the country’s woes.

Scotland simply “gets” the concept of pooled sovereignty – the idea that you surrender some of your sovereignty in return for enhanced security and co-operation – in a way that England doesn’t. We get it because we’ve been doing it for over three centuries in the United Kingdom. If the English never viewed the Union in quite this light, that was because, as the larger partner, they simply carried on as if nothing had changed.

Ex world powers with a strong class system take a while to adjust to power sharing.

Well, things have changed now. With Brexit, the UK is completing its retreat into sullen Little Englandism and plenty of Scots want out. Put simply, the Scots are finding the European Union less claustrophobic than the British one. It’s the difference between sharing a flat with your mates and being in bed with an elephant.

One of the elephant’s problems is that it can’t forget the past. It can’t stop recalling the glories of Empire. Post-imperial England is still struggling to adjust to its diminished role in the world. Scotland has been all too successful in forgetting its complicity in Empire, but it is mercifully free of delusions of imperial grandeur. We know that we are a small, peripheral nation occupying the knuckle end of an Atlantic island – and we value the larger context of our European family.

All this makes it sound as though Scotland is inherently less racist and intolerant than England. It’s not. As my own Irish ancestors could testify, Scotland has its own legacy of hostility to incomers. But migration has been central to the Scottish experience for centuries and maybe we find it that bit harder to regard “migrant” as a dirty word.

Historically, Scotland’s problem has been emigration and depopulation, not immigration. Persuading someone who lives in the Highlands or the Borders or the wilds of Aberdeenshire that his country is full up is not the easiest of tasks.

Until recently a significant problem for New Zealand has also been substantial emigration, and to avoid a shrinking population we have to encourage immigrants.

But there seems to be a growing or at least a more vocal intolerance of ‘different’ people coming here.

Don’t underestimate the importance of leadership. The tone of the Brexit debate in England and Wales – as set by the odious Nigel Farage and the blustering Boris Johnson – flirted shamefully with racism.

In Scotland, leaders of all parties have eschewed such tactics. When the result was announced, the first concern of Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, was to reassure migrants that their contribution was valued. In the febrile aftermath of Brexit, Sturgeon spoke directly and graciously to “those who have done us the honour of choosing to make Scotland their home”.

Can you imagine the current crop of English politicians – not to mention those of Australia and New Zealand – having the courage and humanity to set such a tone?

Unfortunately too many politicians here smell votes in stoked up intolerance.

If all the immigrants who are already here were able to nominate what sort of new immigrants they wanted to exclude our population would not only shrink from a lack of immigration, it would probably suffer from an exodus of Kiwis looking for opportunities to thrive elsewhere in the world.

A nasty side of Brexit

I have no idea how isolated or widespread is but this is disturbing, but perhaps not surprising.

This is not the post Brexit Britain we want to see. Politicians from all sides need to speak out



“Why and how we measure racism, sexism”

The Kiwimeter survey has been both very popular see the survey KiwiMeter – what kind of a Kiwi are you? and my post about it – Kiwimeter.

It has also been strongly criticised for (claimed) racism. Some blog posts have been scathing, for example:

However Andrew Robertson (Colmar Brunton) has responded on how and why things like racism and sexism are measured in polls:

The folks involved in the New Zealand Attitudes and Values study (me included) have written this open letter about the measurement of racism and prejudice.

This is not about the Kiwimeter survey. These issues come up from time to time on other research projects, so we thought it would be useful to release this position statement.

Key points from the open letter:

  • The only way we can know if racism is a problem in New Zealand is to measure it scientifically, and to see if it is getting better or worse over time.
  • The measurement of racism is complex. It is typically done by asking people if they agree or disagree with a series of scientifically selected attitude statements. There is a deep logic behind how we select these statements.
  • Sometimes these attitude statements can seem offensive, but it’s important to include them because some parts of our society endorse them. If we exclude these statements, we can’t measure racism and other forms of prejudice.

And their sidebar summary:

Why do questionnaires like the NZAVS include statements that may seem racist?

In order to know if people are racist you need to come up with a way to measure their attitudes. For many of us, if one were to hear someone say some of the statements we use to measure racism in a conversation then it would be highly offensive. Sadly we live in a society and world where some people do hold these types of beliefs. We are asking people’s opinions NOT stating our opinions.

Why is it important to measure racism anyway?

Because we want to know how to reduce racism. New Zealand is among the world’s most tolerant societies, but we still have a long way to go. To achieve this goal we think that it is important to measure and track change in racism over time. Only by doing so can we know if there is a problem, and to see if it is getting better or worse over time. We can also identify factors that might decrease or increase racism.

Are there other ways to measure racism?

Self-report questionnaires and other polls are a really useful way to track attitudes like racism and sexism. If we want to estimate the proportion of the population who may hold prejudiced beliefs in a large-scale national probability sample like the NZAVS, or to model the rate of change over time, then using self-report questionnaires are the best method we have.

Doesn’t talking about racism make it worse?

NOT talking about racism makes it worse because then people can ignore that racism is there. We know of no evidence suggesting that measuring or talking about racism might increase levels of racism in society. If anything, measuring racism draws attention to the problem, and might help to reduce it by signalling that many other people do not think racism is OK, and do not share the same racist opinions.

Care should be taken discussing sensitive topics like racism and sexism, but debate and polling can’t be shut down by the PC brigade who insist on restrictions on terminology and try to shut down discussions unless you comply with their views.

NZAVS Open Letter (PDF)

ReThink on racism

I discovered a programme called ReThink on TV3 yesterday morning that broadcast at 9.30 am,  just prior to their Sunday repeat of The Nation.

Yesterday’s ReThink had a very interesting look at racism in New Zealand via a panel discussion with Raybon Kan, Shamubeel Eaqub and Kath Akuhata Brown:


It runs for 25 minutes but is worth a watch.

From ReThink’s Facebook page:

Solutions to Issues affecting New Zealand and New Zealanders -TV3 Sun 9.30am