Don’t Pit Kiwis Against Each Other

Published: Fri 15 Nov 2002 10:24 AM
Don’t Pit Kiwis Against Each Other
Comparison between Asian and Maori New Zealanders is not the way to counter attacks on Asian migrants.
Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said that he was concerned that some people defending Asian migrants had pointed to health, education, economic and crime statistics relating to Maori.
“Trying to compare chalk, cheese and chocolate is just compounding the effect of hurtful generalisations on individual New Zealanders. Such tactics may provoke a response from some Maori who may feel that the plight of their people is due to Asian immigration”.
Mr de Bres said that statistics are useful to identify needs, but not to apportion blame; while statistics continue to show areas of major concern for Maori New Zealanders, people should not blame all Maori for this or say it is up to them to fix it.
“To say, on the one hand, that it is a matter for individual responsibility and, on the other, to ascribe that responsibility to all Maori is contradictory. It also ignores the fact that many Maori devote an inordinate amount of time and effort to help their fellow citizens”.
“The vast majority of Maori are model New Zealanders who have often overcome significant barriers to success. We should all join with them to address the issues that lead to the perpetuation of disadvantage and criminal offending by people whatever their colour or ethnic origin, rather than saying it is someone else’s problem”.
Mr de Bres said that it is important to untangle the immigration debate so that it can be about New Zealand’s economic and social development, instead of about the colour or ethnic origin of New Zealanders.
For further details call Miriam Bell, Human Rights Commission Communications Officer on 025 313 239 or 09 375 8627.

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