THE BICULTURAL PERSPECTIVE
Pākehā-Māori, Māori-Pākehā. That has been narrative portrayed about New Zealand since it officially became a British colony in July 1841. But while the Māori and Pākehā were presenting New Zealanders and the world with a bi- cultural perspective, continuous immigration in the mid-19th Century was making the country multicultural with significant contributions coming from other countries. It was also in that century that the Māori population declined by half due to a number of factors from around 86,000 in 1769 to about 46,000 in 1896.
Until about the 1960s most immigrants to New Zealand were from the British Isles and easily adjusted to New Zealand life. The trickling in of other Continental European communities who arrived mostly before that decade was expected to adopt local customs and norms. But by the 1970s, an incipient change would literally and figuratively transform the face of New Zealand.
First came an influx of various people from the Pacific Islands, and from the mid-1980s increasing numbers from other places – predominantly Asia. In the 1990s, a scattering of other nationalities from the Americas, Africa and the Middle East arrived. By 2006 only 67% of people living in New Zealand could be typified as exclusively coming from European countries, compared to the over 90% figure 30-years earlier.
The people who have come from this wide range of cultures have now settled down. They have taken up citizenship and are raising New Zealand-born child ren. Today, this reality challenges the notions of who New Zealanders really are.
That question is now becoming a big idea in the share of mind of politicians at the local and national levels. They are trying to fit terms like “inclusiveness” into their policy platforms without appearing duplicitous, in bids to attract votes from a much broader spectrum. The fact remains, however, that their mindsets are still very much embedded in the Pākehā-Māori narrative. Their political and socio-economic policies reflect it as much. Dualisms are much easier to under stand and control.
Not everyone today in New Zealand accepts this status quo with equanimity, and there are two ends to that stick. One end says “If it ain’t broke, let’s not rock the boat”. The other end claims “Let’s fix it before it breaks”
The trouble is, it isn’t just a boat anymore. It’s a large ship with a lot of different passengers on board and how this ship is steered through rough waters ahead will determine how well New Zealand as a whole can successfully navigate the ship for the remaining decades of the 21st Century.
Watch The Video
This award-winning documentary investigates the utter failure of neo-liberal economics that was adopted by New Zealand in the 1980s as policy to transform its society into a more fair and inclusive one. It explains why this economic theory in practice is principally responsible for creating inequality and the widening wealth gap being experienced today which finds an Über-wealthy class of people repre senting just 10% of the population lording it over a struggling middle class and the poor who are left to fend for themselves for lack of opportunities. It was originally screened on TV3 at 7:00PM 27th August 2013. If you happened to have missed viewing it, now is your chance to do so courtesy of RedSkyTelevision. All Right Reserved.
A POLARITY OF CHOICE
It’s time for meaningful change – ones that address the realities of a funda mentally different world. How this change pans out has much to do with how well this generation address today’s burning issues and who they all choose to steer their ship further into the horizon.
We have to move away from the dualistic mindset of doing things to a pluralistic framework quickly because the reality of today is that the needs of the many far outweigh the needs of the few. This is the new narrative of New Zealand and the shift starts at the governance level.
In every election since the 1950s, New Zealanders are still pretty much left choosing only between black and white, between the haves and the have-nots. It reflects a lame choice largely between the socialist or the laissez-faire platforms of New Zealand’s traditional political parties handed down to us from the time New Zealand was an offshore island outpost of the once glorious but now defunct British Empire where party politics was defined narrowly between the aristocrats pitted against the middle and labouring classes.
It is in that tradition-bound dualistic framework where most of our politicians are still found operating today. They lack a clear cut modern ideology to guide them and one where social justice is the guiding principle and where economic organisation adapts itself to broader social needs.
These politicians lack vision and deep understanding of what real social progress is all about. As a consequence, the polarity of the left and the right offers citizens not much of a choice. Isn’t it that we always seem to end up back in the same blind alley forcing us to turn an about face just to do the same things all over again? It’s a circle within a spiral running rings around the moon. It’s like living inside a fairytale story with no light in sight at the end of the tunnel for its ending.
WELCOME TO FAIRYLAND
Oh, New Zealand! Why have we allowed the gap between the rich and the poor to grow much faster than in most other developed countries of the world? Isn’t this bad for all of us? Is anyone really minding our ship these days?
Let’s look at our situation as it is today. Imagine holding a 10-dollar bill representing the entire worth of New Zealand in your hands. Now fold that note in half. That part is owned by just 10% of the population who manage to avoid paying their fair share of the tax burden. On the other part, the bottom 10% owns nothing at all so pay nothing, while the remaining 80% – the struggling middle and labouring class, pay 70% of all taxes. And, as struggling and marginalised citizens are excluded from the state’s provision of security, the wealth gap con tinues to widen.
Welcome to Fairyland where today power and wealth are still concentrated in the hands of a few to the exclusion of the majority who are burdened by non-existent opportunities, low wages, high taxation, other imposts disguised as fees, financial charges, and ever increasing council rates.
What results is a system where its entire society sans the very privileged 10%, is bounded within by a modern-day version of feudalism cloaked with the veneer of democracy. If this were not so, then how does one explain why so many New Zealand families to this day still struggle to make ends meet in a supposedly advanced and prosperous country?
Shouldn’t the majority of people who make up most of the entire population of this country get on with exercising the real power that is their collective vote to produce meaningful change – ones that will define the shape and form of their future for the better? Where are their voices?
WANTING THE SAME THINGS
Coherence is the key word to watch here because as politicians and mass marketers all over the world understand fully well, is that when a community of people achieve coherence they become an unstoppable force to reckon with – things like who they all decide to vote for in elections or what or where or why they buy certain goods and services. Does anyone care to wonder how the next local and national elections will shape up when our diverse set of migrant communities somehow gel into coherence and decide to vote en bloc for a political platform that’s neither black or white, left or right?
The total New Zealand population is projected to grow from 4.18-million in 2006 to 4.99-million by 2026. In that year, the Māori population is projected to increase from 620,000 to 810,000 (16.23%); the Asians from 400,000 to 790,000 (15.83%), the Pacific population from 300,000 to 480,000 (9.62%); and other ethnic communities from the Americas, Africa and the Middle east from 83,600 to 146,000 (2.9%). By that time, nearly half of New Zealand’s population will consist of people from a diverse rainbow of cultural backgrounds all with the same aspirations.
Even then at the end of the day, everyone’s pretty much the same. They want the same things – an economy that works equally for all, a good roof over their heads, a secure place to live in, a better quality of life for themselves and their children and a political leadership that responds to the needs, welfare and well-being of their communities that is fair and inclusive.
ARE VOICES BEING HEARD?
A fair and inclusive country needs good people to lead it, but well-informed citizens to elect them first. We all need to be reminded that the only purpose of an election is to elect others who will serve us – the citizens and residents. It’s not the other way around but it still seems so today. Just look around at the outcomes over the years and decide if your voices are being heard.
Since 1989, voter turnout in local elections have declined in New Zealand which has analysts now saying that lower turnouts as a trend indicate a broad dissatisfaction with local service performance and delivery and reflects a diminished trust in public institutions. So, in a manner of speaking, those who don’t vote make their voices heard even if it is silent, but it doesn’t count since the whole point of an election is to count votes and not listen to silent voices.
Local democracy and the opportunity to vote for local representatives is an important, some say the most important, part of making changes because the relevance of such votes – when tallied up, is assessed not only by how many citizens have voted, but what the results clearly say. This is where the real voice of people and their communities reside and that voice influences what happens at the national level.
The last national election in New Zealand was held 26 November 2011 and the next one to determine the 51st New Zealand Parliament under the MMP voting system will most realistically be held 06 December 2014, after the current 50th New Zealand Parliament is dissolved or expires, whichever comes first.
While it is too early to express a voice in this next election, the battle lines are not surprisingly again being characterised by the two major political parties – National and Labour, as a vote for the Left, or a vote for the Right. There is nothing much else in-between. Unless another political force or movement comes up offering choices other than black or white then expect the outcome of the 2014 national election to lead us all back again into the blind alley.
WE ARE THE CHANGE
Often enough, the outcomes of local elections in the largest cities of New Zealand serve as a litmus test for what voters will likely do in national elections. In Auckland – whose urban population is three times greater than the second largest city of Wellington, the next local council election occurs on 12 October 2013. Mark that date in your things to-do list.
This election will be held by postal vote. The voting form documents will be posted to all enrolled voters who reside in Greater Auckland by 25 September 2013. Therefore, you will need to make sure that you get your voting form, mark it up and drop it off in the ballot box at your nearest public library before noontime of the date mentioned earlier.
In this year’s Auckland council elections, there are a total of 17 candidates running for the position of Mayor, including the incumbent. Each have their own personal view about how they’d like to run Auckland if they win this election. Of this large list of candidates, it appears that the front-runners are: Len Brown (Independent), John Palino (Independent), John Minto (Mana Movement) and Rev. Uesifili Unasa (Independent) in no particular order.
See the full Candidates List here to make an informed decision.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Like many Aucklanders who don’t want to change Auckland’s unique multi- cultural character, the big issue that has clearly emerged from this amalgamated Super City is whether or not its ratepayers deserve an accountable, transparent and representative local government serving community needs.
Other issues related to the first include: to earn enough to keep their families safe and healthy; to be able to afford and live in decent homes; to remove stifling red tape; to fix those things which frustrate Aucklanders such as congestion and public transport access; to eliminate horrendous levels of Council wastage; and, to reduce the growing burden on people of runaway rates increases and council charges.
If we were to distil all these issues into a few words, it would clearly be this: restore the people’s lost voice. Fair enough but then again, if you don’t vote your voice doesn’t count.
The power of your vote. Use it wisely. Vote for a fair and much better future for you, your children, your community and your country because in the future that’s where you’re going to live.
Filipinos in Auckland | Welcome To Fairyland
FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND – THE STORY
The Filipino-Kiwis today are now the third largest Asian migrant community in New Zealand. Amazingly, they have doubled over in size since 2006 to an estimated 35,000 individuals with nearly half of their numbers settled within Greater Auckland. The Wellington region is home to a third of them and the remaining 20% are scattered in smaller communities like Hamilton and Christchurch and in most of the 70-odd sub-regions of the country starting from the Far North District in the North Island all the way to down to Invercargill City in the South Island. Their whole cultural experience as a growing ethnic minority is rarely included in main stream historical accounts of New Zealand. This is because they have only come into the country in numbers at the start of the 1990s although they have been around since the 1930s. Their stories and the significance of their contributions have yet to be assessed or appreciated by the larger community. In November, an eMagazine titled “Footprints in the Sand-The Story” will be published online. You can read more about Filipino-Kiwis and find out how you can participate as a page ad sponsor which helps support charities. Click Me.