Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

Brexit a warning sign?


It seems that a significant factor in the minds of those who voted in favour of leaving the European Union was concern over the rate of immigration. Aotearoa New Zealand has three times the immigration rate per capita compared to the U.K. 

Does this mean that we Kiwis are more tolerant and accepting of immigrants? Or is the Brexit vote a warning sign that we too might become more xenophobic in the future? What should we do to ensure that dislike and even hatred of those who are in some way different does not raise its ugly head more than it does now? Does the leader of the New Zealand First party have a point when he says that our present rate of immigration is unsustainable? Or is he simply fear mongering? 

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and discovered I am autistic at the age of sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

10 thoughts on “Brexit a warning sign?

  1. Good questions. It’s wise to think proactively about such things.

    • Almost one in four New Zealanders were born in another country, and we have fairly high immigration and emigration rates. I would hope that our population fluidity encourages a more open and tolerant society with a rich tapestry of cultures. But perhaps that’s wishful thinking on my part when I look at the intolerance that builds up in other parts of the world where there are high rates of movement in the population.

  2. I looked up New Zealand First. I see proportional representation has given it eight seats in Parliament at the moment. When I read that it has high Maori support, but its policy is for the end of the Maori Electorates, I see that there are local issues I could not read up on in a day to give you a useful opinion.

    In the UK, a hard right government has imposed austerity, causing anger, frustration and fear which a plutocrat media has directed against immigrants and the EU. Our vote to leave the EU has delivered a huge shock to the economy, and Conservatives who claimed to support Remaining in the EU now say that a referendum where the majority is small, the turnout is low for such a profound change and the campaign was based on lies and fantasy, they now say that it is Solomon Binding Irreversible the Will of the People a Done deal- though the interests of the country, and even the will of the electorate given the Regretters are ever more clearly for Remain.

    In the UK, justifiably angry people have had their anger whipped up to vote against their interests, against protection of employees’ and consumer rights and the environment, and the effect is to let the hard Right decimate those rights and work for the interests of the ultra-rich. The hard Right will seek to channel such anger against anyone seeking to Remain in the EU now, as well as immigrants and other proxy targets.

    We are in the clutches of our enemies. I hope the same fate does not befall you.

    • NZ First currently holds 12 seats in the Parliament (out of the 121 seats. Actually it doesn’t have high Maori support even though it’s leadership has several members with Maori ancestry. Their “one NZ” philosophy means that they place no significance on the place of Maori in our society. They also see little value in cultural diversity – they want everyone to be like the majority. This is clearly shown by their anti immigration stance and their opposition to foreign investment in NZ. They appeal most to what we call the Blue Rinse Brigade – middle class women over fifty. When its leader Winston Peters retires, i suspect the party will die rather quickly.

      Kiwis don’t seem to be as passionate about political matters as many other peoples are (apart from fairness and anti nuclear issues). But people such as Winston Peters have the ability to bring out latent xenophobic fears in a section of the population.

      The PPTA free trade agreement was likely to be a catalyst for Peters’ rise in popularity, but that now seems to be a dead duck with both Trump and Clinton opposed to ratifying it.

  3. In my opinion there is a perfect reason why some countries are xenophobic and others aren’t. And it is simple to see and simple to fix – but they won’t fix it. We have some of that xenophobia here in Canada – I’d estimate that we are about 70% like NZ and 30% like the UK. Here’s the problem: We do not ensure their integration into out social fabric. The more isolated the immigrants then the less they feel a part of our culture,the more they pull back and less personal knowledge each citizen has of the immigrants. As soon as it becomes an “Us” and “Them” situation,that is a recipe for a continued widening of the separation and hatred – we all know that we hate what we fear and we fear that newcomers will take “our” jobs because we don’t understand them.

    We don’t see them as loving. caring, family oriented people who are (at first) so grateful that they were allowed to get away from war zones and killing fields and prejudice and hatred and hunger and pestilence and homelessness. Every one of them would give you a big hug if it were acceptable. And that is great but then we don’t help them with our society.

    Between driving tractor trailer for years and my current medical issues where I am exposed to hospital support staff and taxi drivers – I see very many immigrant drivers and station attendants and cleaning staff, etc. As a group they are the most undervalued, underappreciated, underutilized members of our society.So many have PhD’s and Master’s degrees in a wide range of specialties. And they cannot use these degrees here. Instead of taking all this value and experience added at great expense by other societies and helping them to meet our standards,to have programs that follow the individuals to help deal with problems, etc – we just throw all that away. One Pakistani with a PhD in Hydraulics had a degree from an accredited university and had 10 years experience consulting on and building Dams in third world countries – and he was pumping gas on the night shift because he could not get a job as he was told he would not be able to understand Canadian technologies and culture. Another station attendant was a professor in theoretical Physics with two PhD’s who taught at Moscow University. The tech who fixes the dialysis machines at the hospital is an MD from another country. He told me that the Canadian government required he repeat his whole medical degree and with a family he did not have the money or time. They would not assess his skills to determine what upgrades were necessary – he had to redo the whole thing. One of my taxi drivers has a Masters in Social work,another a Masters in engineering – same story.

    Anyway,this is my soap box topic – I see billions of dollars in training and experience going to waste as a consequence of ignoring immigrants and refusing to help them adapt.As well,this is just a symptom of a widening gap between immigrants and the rest of society.We need a mindful and deliberate plan to assess and assist these people in integrating into our society.Failing to do will result in xenophobic attitudes.

    • I guess it depends on what you mean by “integrating”. Most immigrants to NZ are not refugees or otherwise fleeing hardships. We have a quota of 1000 refugees per year – much lower than I believe it should be. Most immigrants are selected through a points system where qualifications and work experience are major factors, as are the fields of work they wish to undertake in NZ. Some Pacific nations and Australia have privileged right of access and don’t require points to immigrate here but uncontrolled immigration as in the U.K. doesn’t occur here.

      Having said that, there is an increasingly vocal minority that blames immigration for almost every social ill one can think of. We don’t see expressions of xenophobia such as open hatred or violence against immigrants or ethnicity groups, but I wonder how much there is shimmering below the surface waiting for the right trigger to see it openly expressed. One political party is strongly anti immigrant (see my comment to Clare elsewhere on this page) and its leader could be the catalyst for open expressions of xenophobia.

  4. We’re a bunch of navel gazers. Our society has so become the “me” society that we blame everything on someone else and immigrants are a handy target. We need to open up our perceptions and see how valuable new cultures can be to us. In history there have been times (WW1, WW2, Somalia, etc) when millions of immigrants were welcomed and embraced.

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