Immigration is likely to be one of the major issues in the election that’s coming up in September – or at any rate, some parties think that it will be, and are trying to push the topic forward.

Immigration is important for New Zealand in general and Auckland in particular. Many Kiwis were born overseas, and hence heated or hostile rhetoric will personally affect many of us. And looking forward, although natural increase – the excess of births over deaths – is expected to account for the majority of Auckland’s population growth, net migration will also play a big role in shaping the city’s growth.

Here, I want to take a look at the politics of immigration. This is an analytical perspective, rather than a partisan one – I’m seeking to understand what is happening, rather than setting out what I think should be happening.

Before getting into it, an advisory: Greater Auckland’s user guidelines sternly disallow sexist, racist or other offensive comments. Comments that single out immigrants for criticism frequently fall into this category and will be deleted.

With that in mind, I want to present two charts and a couple of observations on the political landscape.

Here’s the first chart. It shows that immigration of non-New Zealanders tracks well with New Zealand First’s polling averages over the last two decades. While this isn’t evidence of causation – other things were happening – it’s certainly consistent with the idea that higher immigration pushes some voters towards New Zealand First’s nativist, “keep out the yellow hordes” message.

Here’s the second chart, which shows voting intentions for the Labour Party in the Roy Morgan poll. (Other polls show the same basic trend.) I’ve highlighted the timing of the three recent major Labour policy announcements on immigration.

Two things are immediately apparent from this chart. First, nothing that the Labour Party has done has really moved the needle on voting intentions – they’ve been bouncing around between 25-30% of the vote share for years. Second, in the polling period immediately after these three immigration announcements, the Labour Party’s voting intentions dropped significantly – all three drops were larger than the poll’s margin of error of around 2.7%.

Voting intentions tended to rebound in subsequent polls, but basically this data shows that the Labour Party, unlike New Zealand First, has experienced no electoral benefit from promising to cut immigration. If anything, it is more likely to have been harmed by its position.

Third, the Green Party tried to jump on the ‘cut immigration’ bandwagon last year, proposing to dial immigration settings to maintain a consistent rate of 1% population growth. That went down like a cup of cold sick among many of their supporters, and Green Party co-leader James Shaw apologised for the policy at the start of July, saying that:

Unfortunately, by talking about data and numbers, rather than about values, I made things worse.

Because the background terms of the debate are now so dominated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, when I dived into numbers and data, a lot of people interpreted that as pandering to the rhetoric, rather than trying to elevate the debate and pull it in a different direction.

We were mortified by that, because, in fact, the Greens have the ambition of being the most migrant-friendly party in Parliament. And I am sorry for any effect it may have had on your communities.

Fourth, here’s a complete list of major announcements that the National Party has made on immigration:


For the last decade, National has commanded the centre ground in New Zealand politics – shifting a bit to the left or right depending upon the issue. So it’s notable that they have stayed almost totally mum on the subject, only coming up to attack Labour’s immigration policy announcements. For instance, here’s what Judith Collins, nobody’s idea of a squishy liberal, had to say on Labour’s policy of cutting tens of thousands of visas:

Ms Collins, speaking to The AM Show on Friday alongside Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern and Mt Albert MP, said Mr Little’s stance sounded familiar.

“It reminded me of a politician from the US – I thought it was a real ‘build a wall’ type of thing.”

So what is actually going on here? What do Kiwis really think about the issue? Can public sentiments be harnessed for electoral victory?

In June, AUT researcher David Hall published the results of an in-depth survey on New Zealanders’ attitudes towards immigration in The Spinoff. The results showed a muddle – some Kiwis have clearly positive attitudes towards immigration and immigrants, some have clearly negative attitudes, and many feel somewhere in the middle:

People living in New Zealand – on the whole – are more favourable toward immigration than not. Given that New Zealand is commonly conceived as “a nation of immigrants”, that’s what you might hope for.

But – and this is a fairly big “but” – this weighting toward positive views of immigration is partly driven by migrants. If you separate out New Zealand citizens and long-term residents from recent migrants (in this survey that means non-citizens in New Zealand for less than five years), then attitudes toward immigration look more equivocal. Indeed, you see a pattern that looks roughly similar to the UK in recent years.

These findings start to explain the political outcomes that I highlighted above. A minority of New Zealanders have firmly negative views about immigration – and it’s likely that NZ First has cornered the market on their votes. But most New Zealanders have either positive or mixed feelings about migration. This means that it’s quite difficult for larger parties to target anti-immigration votes without losing an equal (or greater) number of votes.

Digging further into the polling results, there are a number of other nuances that make politicking on immigration difficult. One interesting divide is on the question of whether we should prioritise temporary work visas or permanent residency:

Of course, real world policy choices need not be so stark, but this question splits respondents in interesting ways. Again, age is an issue, with older voters clearly favouring New Zealand’s present policy trajectory: higher levels of temporary immigration with limited access to social benefits. This is also the preference for National and New Zealand First voters, to a strikingly similar degree (72% and 73% respectively).

But younger respondents and Greens voters lean in the other direction, preferring a reduction of numbers in exchange for more secure migrant outcomes. So too do recent migrants, prioritising security over volume at a ratio of 64:36, almost perfectly the inverse of what New Zealand citizens favour (38:62).

Temporary work visas undoubtedly offer more potential for exploitation than permanent residency. We could address that in a number of ways, eg by staffing the labour inspectorate properly and applying stiffer penalties to abusive employers. But we can’t address it at all unless we acknowledge that our current abusive policy is, to a significant degree, what many New Zealanders want. That’s a challenging conversation for political parties to have – hence why parties that try to take it on seem to make little headway.

Finally, I think it’s worth highlighting the survey’s findings about attitudes towards the Treaty of Waitangi:

Respondents were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed (from 1 to 10) with the following statement: “People who want to live here should have to declare their commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi.” Only 28 per cent of New Zealand citizens strongly agreed (1-2) with this statement, whereas 40 per cent of recent migrants did. Additionally, 47 per cent of Māori and 49 per cent of Pacific Islanders strongly agreed.

These findings imply that recent migrants would not wholly oppose more Māori involvement in designing migration policy. It also implies that the major hurdle lies among New Zealand citizens who aren’t Māori or Pacific Island. This is worth bearing in mind, in coming months, if anyone starts saying that our bicultural framework is failing because of multiculturalism. Because it isn’t new migrants that manage our borders, and it isn’t Māori choosing not to be consulted. Responsibility lies with the other half of the bicultural partnership: with Pākehā.

I think this is incredibly important. It tells us a lot about what migration might mean for our country going forward. Migrants are self-selected: It takes a certain amount of motivation to get on the plane to a new land, where you may be cut adrift from all of your previous social and family ties. People do not generally migrate on a whim. They think about where they’re going and (by and large) try to find a place with values that match theirs.

Many migrants come here with an awareness of New Zealand’s (imperfect but very real) biculturalism and its environmental ethos. They’re not coming to undermine what’s good about the place, but to participate in it. So it seems to me that many of the fears about immigration fundamentally changing New Zealand’s culture are overblown. I think that New Zealanders are generally aware of that, because most of us live and work alongside migrants. And that, too, should be a consideration for parties seeking to harness anti-immigration sentiments for political gain.

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  1. Nice analysis. The self-selection effect on migration seems really strong.

    Labour’s position on migration has certainly harmed my opinion of them, and undermined most of the enthusiasm I may have had for a change in government. They’ve dropped all of their interesting policies, e.g. super reform and capital gains taxes, and offer this “slash immigration” cup of sick up in return. The worst thing is not so much the policy but the rhetoric they’ve used to promote it. Uggghhhh.

    As the data suggests, I don’t think it will resonate with most voters, and those it does seem more likely to vote NZFirst or National already.

    Could be wrong of course!

    1. re: Labour, yes it was disappointing, if only because it lacks any imagination and seemed very reactionary, like Angry Andrew had decided he needed to ‘do something’ and went for the first thing that popped into his head. Whichever side you fall on it’ll be an election issue and I’d prefer if the options put forward by different parties were more thought out and looked to address some of the negative outcomes of immigration while recognising that there’s a huge amount of benefit that comes with it

      1. Yes, I just feel like Labour have dropped all of their interesting policies, and instead put forward populist policies that, like you said, don’t appear to be well thought through.

        1. I think it is interesting how ‘labels’ can be attached to people/groups. It seems for many the label that Labour is racist, insular, a bunch of small-minded hicks is something which people think is true (is it?) and unacceptable (it is). Yet when National uses victimisation ‘labels’ to demonise individuals/groups -people are not spreading the message this is unacceptable.

          Bill English has repeatedly used this labeling process -unlike Phil Twyford/Labour who haven’t repeated claims that Chinese sounding names are responsible for the housing crisis. Bill English on a number of occasions said that young New Zealanders are ‘pretty damn hopeless’, who are work shy and not taking up work because they are ‘druggies’ -despite having no evidence for these claims -other than the ‘reckons’ of a few provincial employers. I think it is strange that this form of victimisation is not being railed against. Especially as these ‘reckons’ is what Bill English has used to justify his government’s high number of work visas.

          I discussed this type of victimisation -as a reason NZ is not addressing youth suicide -in a an article I recently wrote. Which is mostly about how the community is the first level of defence against problems such as mental illness, suicide, drug and alcohol use. The article discusses the international evidence pointing to the strengthening of community connections/activities as be a key driver in reducing these problems. There is a discussion of how this could be applied in NZ.

          Note the government refuses to create a hard target ( a reduction of a particular percent by a particular date) for NZ’s suicide rate .

        2. Is it Stu? The immigration debate is closely tied racism and that is certainly the accusation in this article -there is even a time series graph -with a turning point labeled -“Phil Twyford blames buyers with Chinese sounding surnames for driving up Auckland house prices”. The point seemed to be many people are rightly concerned about immigrants being victimised because of their racial characteristics -such as surnames.

          I was just pointing out some other ways people in NZ are victimised, blamed, demonised. It is a common practice in NZ for individuals to be blamed rather than looking at what society/ the community could do to help. Many politicians from across the political spectrum, including our Prime Minister -Bill English are adept at blaming the individual rather than looking at what could be changed in society or the community to help.

    2. RE: Labour’s posi… That was disappointing.

      Looking at the analysis of work visas, whilst as Peter said it doesn’t need to be so stark, Labour could have captured so many more votes by proposing more security and lesser visas – Which would also be in keeping with socialist lean of their core ethos (and I mean that in a positive way).

      So now it’s up to the Greens to do the heavy lifting. A lot of heavy lifting.

      Finally – The lead image, is it just me or does it look like ex-PM Mike Moore? 😉

      1. “”Temporary work visas undoubtedly offer more potential for exploitation than permanent residency. We could address that in a number of ways, eg by staffing the labour inspectorate properly and applying stiffer penalties to abusive employers.””

        This is a problem in every country which has work visas to a certain extent but NZ makes it worse by holding out the carrot of permanent residency. See Prof Stringer’s report on Widespread Worker Exploitation

        Andrew Little has made it clear he will strengthen the labour inspectorate. That almost on its own gets my vote. Hopefully with more time for voters have to think about this issue it will get him more support and then the other parties will clamber on board.

      2. I agree Bob. Labour are campaigning on cutting back on temporary immigration visas -the policy is to tighten the requirements on student and work visas -which will have the effect of cutting back immigration by something like 20,000. They are not proposing to reduce permanent residency numbers.

        The problem Labour seem to have is their messaging or explanation of ‘why’ that goes with their policy announcements is awful. In part that is the fault of the politicians concerned, in part it is the tabloid nature of MSM in NZ and in part it is due to the strength of National in being able to insert their prefered narrative as the dominant explanation -often while quietly implementing a National-lite version of whatever Labour announced.

        So National gets to play both sides of publicly contentious issues -for instance, they can accuse opposition parties…. of being racist, anti-globalists, insular…. while quietly implementing similar policies to what opposition politicians were advocating for. This playing both sides of contentious public issues means opposition parties get ‘labeled’ but do not get any increased political support from advocating for policies which the public want.

        Opposition politicians as the ‘messenger’ gets blamed for raising unpalatable but genuine public concerns, but gets no credit for acting on these concerns.

        For instance Labour in the past campaigned on capital gains -something that at the time was called a politically untouchable issue -yet National introduced the Bright-line test -where property bought and sold within 2 years incurs a capital gains tax.

        Labour campaigned on foreign buyers only being able to build new houses -they would be banned from buying existing property. Due to Twyfords misstep during this campaign -Labour is labeled racist by National. Yet National introduced a scheme where foreigners cannot buy property unless they have a NZ tax number.

        Last year -in response to rising public concern about the high level of immigration and the impact this was having on housing, congestion, overloaded schools, hospitals…… National increased the points required to get permanent residency and it tightened some of the requirements on low-skilled/low paid working visas.

        1. Brendon: you did not mention the freeze on family reunion category which in the main means the British and Chinese parents of settled NZ immigrants are unable to come to NZ whatever wealth they have. The freeze was put in place IMHO because the public worried about elderly Chinese getting superannuation without having contributed. If you look at the data this doesn’t stack up since most were over 60 and therefore could never qualify.
          Other than Labour candidate Jin An nobody has mentioned this arbitrary and somewhat racist decision by our dept of Immigration.

        2. Does the rule seriously only apply to people from China and the UK!?

          Did they get access to public healthcare? I imagine this would have been a concern as it is a bigger cost for elderly than superannuation.

        3. +1, my mother’s partner wants to bring his very elderly father here so that the father can be cared for by the two sons who both live here, but it is an immigration nightmare.

        4. Apologies for not making it clear the freeze appears to apply to everyone but the majority of approved applicants in 2016 were from China with plenty also from the UK.
          Most (but by no means all) UK elderly will bring their UK pension with them and that is subtracted from NZ superannuation if they qualify.
          However all the rumours in North Shore were that we had plenty of Asians reuniting with their only child at the expense of the NZ taxpayer. Based on 2016 figures that was definitely not true. The age range for the Chinese made it quite clear that they were in the vast majority too old for superannuation.
          We can trust the dept of Immigration in checking finances because they sure make a meal of it for a plain short-term visitors visa if you are from Melanesia. Yes that is a TOURIST non-working short-term visa just in case it isn’t clear; my UK relatives are waived in and my highly respectable Melanesian relatives are treated like dirt., Makes me as mad as hell.

        5. Sailor boy – I think it is now effectively impossible (unless you are a Californian Trump supporting billionaire).
          So long as it can be proved that NZ will not be out of pocket for benefits and health (fairly simple but costly matter of insurance) then they ought to be allowed in.
          We will be losing some good productive immigrants because the really talented will simply return home to look after their parents. [I have Chinese friend who has lived in the UK for at least 40 years but he is returning to Singapore to look after his mother – so it is not just NZ].

        6. Exactly Bob. National are implementing their own version of immigration restrictions and as you say their freeze on family reunions is particularly harsh and inhumane. But for some reason only Labour gets singled out as the one making poor political decisions with respect to immigration. To me it doesn’t seem very balanced. Maybe that is because I am biased. Or maybe as they say at my workplace (a psychiatric hospital) -just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you……

        7. Does anyone know who pays the healthcare costs of the elderly parents in these family reunion situations?

          I think it is perfectly reasonable for a country to not want to take on immigrants that will cost the taxpayer much more than they contribute.

        8. I totally agree it’s harsh and inhumane to freeze family reunions for 2 years without offering any alternative option, especially for Chinese immigrants, thanks to the One Child policy.
          There is already a petitions about this issue:

          Personally the following type is all I want:
          2. Introducing Long Term Parent Visitor Visa category. This visa will be valid for 5-10 years, with multiple travel permits. It will also allow parents to stay a longer period of time instead of 9 out of 18 months under the current visitor visa. Parents themselves or their children will have to cover all the expenses including medical fees during the stay.

    3. I think Labour’s immigration policy has been some what misinterpreted. What Labour is saying, that want to cut down the number the number of temporary works visas that is causing a large of overseas students abusing the Student Visa system by trying to get their residency before their Student Visa runs out, have a break, take stock what NZ requires in regards to the work force that will be required to tackle shortages in work skills plus factoring in the effects on technology on what skills that would be required to take NZ forward for the next 20 years and formulate a new immigration policy and spread immigration around the regions not just in Auckland which is already over populated in portion to the land that is available. Labour is not saying that they are not going cut immigration by 20,000 to 30,000 full stop but a temporary halt.

      1. +1 See my comments about poor communication by Labour politicians, MSM being tabloid like -so giving Labour little opportunity to explain and National being good at using the resulting vacuum to insert their favoured narrative as the dominant public explanation.

        1. re: the messaging, I agree to a point. But while maybe the media is partly to blame the clear picture in my head is of Andrew Little in parliament shouting that he’ll reduce immigration to a set target. The reasons why don’t really matter because thats the message loud and clear. Having lived in the UK with Theresa May as Home Secretary when she was peddling that particular brand of bullshit it sticks pretty clearly in my mind. And whose fault is that? Andrew Littles fault.

          Time for Labour to up their game rather than making excuses for why theyre playing it badly.

        2. James I am not making excuses for Andrew Little. I think he does need to improve his communication…. that was my first point…..

        3. I think Mrs May has a target of 100,000 per year for the UK. Divide by say 12 to match NZ population would give us an equivalent target of 8,500. The trouble is we have 13,000 last year just as partners of NZ citizens/permanent residents. And nobody would stop them – maybe the best perk of an OE?

  2. Just a couple of statistical notes about the first 2 graphs:

    1. Two y-axes, right one not starting at zero suggests this is unlikely to be causation, and is probably just coincidence. The rise of NZF vote also precedes immigration increasing in ’03, so this is unlikely in my view. Also, I suspect there’s a solid upper ceiling for such anti-immigrant rhetoric in NZ.

    2. The margin of error in the poll you show for labour is highly unlikely to be as low as 2.7%. It’s more likely at least 1.4 times higher (sqrt(2)), as the poll is not a simple random sample, and will have a reasonably complex design (and thus a design effect) to ensure it is somewhat representative of voting intention. This scales the variance up, and has been estimated at around 2 in the past (e.g. see Indeed, given the variance and your (in my view correct) conclusion that nothing has shifted the needle for Labour at all during this time, attributing falls within that trend to immigration stance appears to be a stretch, given they seem to have quickly recovered without renouncing this stance!

    Lastly, re migrants liking immigration, another interesting observation from the 2014 electoral survey is that new migrants are unlikely to vote in the election they’re first eligible to do so. They tend to start voting around 4-5 years after they arrive.

    1. Roy Morgan’s estimate of the margin of error for Labour’s vote share from a survey of around 1000 people was 2.7%:

      However, I’m not a good enough statistician to dig deeply into that, hence the (tentative) conclusion that there has been no change in Labour’s voting intentions over this period. And agreed on the NZ First vote share issue – there are both leads and lags in that chart.

      1. Remember that margin of error only reflects the sampling error and doesn’t account for any bias or systematic error. (That is why Hilary was going to win last November.) Margin of error is around half the confidence interval to an assumed population distribution.

        1. +1, the polls almost perfectly predicted the total vote in the US, but got the result well wrong.

        2. That’s not quite right either 🙂 The sampling error they quote is estimated based on a simple random sample of the population. But it’s not a simple random sample.

          The sampling error will depend on the weighting given to each person in the sample, and how that varies. Each person in the poll will have a different weight based on a bunch of factors such as how likely that ‘type’ of person is to vote, how prevalent that ‘type’ of person is in the voting population etc. e.g. if they sample fewer under 30 females of Pacific descent compared to the proportion of under 30 females of Pacific descent in the likely to vote population, then that person will be weighted higher in the poll than someone who is overrepresented in the poll compared to the (estimated) population.

          The weighted sample will then give more accurate results, in that the point estimate will be more likely to be unbiased. However, this comes at the expense of larger uncertainty than a simple random sample has – the factor that it’s larger is known as the design effect, and it’s been estimated at around 1.4 in NZ polls.

          But even this corrected uncertainty level/margin of error doesn’t account for non-sampling errors as you point out. However, assuming you know why your sample might be systematically wrong, you can at least attempt to correct it in the design.

          (Sidenote: This is one reason why it doesn’t make much sense when people say “NZFirst always outperforms the polls”. It ignores the fact that pollsters will almost certainly be working to improve the way they sample so as to reduce bias – even if it comes at the expense of a bit more variance).

        3. One of the reasons NZ First out performs the polls is the Winston is probably the best campaigner in the country. It is very hard to account for this in a poll as you are basically trying to pick up all the people who say they wont vote NZ First, but once the campaign is done change their mind.

        4. None of that corrects for me telling pollsters I would vote Green when that is probably the only party I wouldn’t vote for. I got to do that twice at the last election.

  3. The question about the Treaty seems to have been a little odd – not that it was asked, but how it was asked. If the insight which was hoping to be gained was whether Pakeha NZers or recent migrants wanted more Maori involvement in migration policy, why not just ask that? (“should indigenous population have more say in migration policy?”). By asking for commitment to the Treaty, this might be implied (albeit loosely in my mind), but as the Treaty is about many things, has it actually given an accurate indication of the respondents’ thoughts on Maori involvement in migration policy?

        1. yep, like I said it may have been implied within the question, but if you’re relying on an implied meaning in a question to get accurate results of what people think, then you’re going to get some questionable results at best.

    1. Excellent point. I don’t know the treaty very well, so for me the original question introduces a certain sense of hesitation and uncertainty, whereas your rephrasing is easier to answer.

      Though I’d probably ask the researcher what say indigenous currently have, because honestly I don’t see them as having very much say at all right now.

      The question of indigenous involvement in immigration policy is a rather large can of worms. One that when opened (as will eventually happen), will make a lot of people very scared and angry. There’s a lot of non-Maori who would feel threatened (probably the same people who feel threatened by the changing demographics of our nation), regardless of whether they should feel so or not (IMO: not). This kind of question shouldn’t be rolled out at election time, but brought into the public mind during an elected parties term. Race-based politics is very distasteful, to put it mildly.

    2. I find the treaty question quite interesting. Would we want new immigrants to declare their commitment to the treaty?

      I am committed to the treaty myself but NZ is a free society where it is completely acceptable for people to hold opposing views. If someone thinks the treaty is a load of crap, they’re entitled to that view. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are racist or discriminate against Maori or anyone else, they can quite legitimately not believe the treaty is relevant or deserving of their commitment.

      So why would we expect new immigrants to be any different, or hold them to a different standard? Just because we can doesn’t seem like a good argument to me.

      I suppose the results indicate most people have a similar view, but it’s an interesting question.

  4. The Nationals are not saying nothing; since the application of our immigration rules are set by the MBIE not parliamentary vote the nationals immigration ideas can be found on the MBIE website:

    There is much good sense in this article but this is the line I would highlight “They’re not coming to undermine what’s good about the place, but to participate in it.” if you talk to immigrants (not their representatives as the Greens did) then you will find this true.

    1. “They’re not coming to undermine what’s good about the place, but to participate in it.” – That needs to get more air. I fear that many in NZ don’t have much visibility of immigrants (recent or otherwise), so tend to latch on to any apparent certainty. Whoever shouts the loudest about immigrants gets the mind share.

      I had no opinion about immigrants until I moved to Auckland. Having worked for large companies with a large percentage of immigrant labour has cemented the idea that immigrants are generally of benefit to our society, not it’s detriment. I have noted that some of my acquaintances from outside of Akl have conflated the diversification of our culture with immigrants “not participating” in our culture, as though the culture that they grew up with is set in stone and should never change. A myopic and insular concept indeed.

      End ramble 🙂

  5. Bernard Hickey’s graph has convinced me. The best reason to reduce immigration is so we can keep NZ First out of power.

    1. There might be a lagged effect though, eventually. With 92% of migrants having a positive or neutral view towards immigration, might they be agreeing with you about NZF…?

      1. The 92% is part of the reason why National is allowing so many in. I can’t remember the exact number but very recently there was a survey done that showed around 3/4 of new immigrants intent to vote National (once allowed). So more immigrants = more National votes = more people supporting immigration = more immigrants – a vicious (or virtuous) circle depending on your point of view.
        I can’t help but feel that the hundreds of thousands of immigrants over the past decade (or even more if you go back and include the previous decade) have permanently changed the political spectrum in NZ towards National (previously National and Labour had taken turns every couple of elections or so – National is now currently in it’s 3rd term and has more votes according to polls than Labour+Greens combined).

        1. Maybe temporarily, but not in the long term. It is more likely that the centre will move to account for the change in demographic.

          National have actually been in government far more than Labour since WW2, the Clark government was Labour’s 1st three term government, while National has has one four term government and three three term governments.

  6. I think the media is so super sensitive to what it thinks is “racist” and immigration policies. This combined with Labour’s delivery of their policy had a dent in that poll, which may only be temporary. Even if you look at the official NZF policy it isn’t as racist as it’s made out. Labour were just trying with a different tool to try and ease housing and infrastructure pressures as I understand it, not to exclude people groups based on race etc. I certainly don’t think that Kiwi situation is like the Trump or Brexit case.

    1. The biggest problem the left has is its refusal to debate actual issues. Instead they throw verbal grenades to try and prevent debate. “That’s racist” or “that’s sexist” or any other label to try and shut people up rather than allowing an actual discussion. We have a problem when language gets used to prevent opinions being aired, instead people keep their views to themselves and express their opinion in the privacy of the ballot box. Then the twits all get surprised by Trump or Brexit or National winning by a landslide.

      1. +1, many on the left will never explain why something is racist and why that is bad either, just say that it *is* racist and claim they have won the argument.

        1. The very best rant on that subject is comedian Jonathan Pie. Google ‘Trump: how and why’ but not if you are somewhere swearing is inappropriate.

    2. Yes it is interesting to read policy. NZF’s policy has nothing that most liberal minded Kiwis could disagree with but it is surprising they had no mention of targets for either population or annual immigration quotas.

      Meanwhile a few minutes ago on the Greens website as approved by Gwen Shaw:
      “”16. Yearly Immigration Quotas – Clearly decisions in regard to how many immigrants to accept should properly be based on how many people we want to be living in Aotearoa New Zealand.””

      The Nats are playing it cleverly – colluding with their lobbyists in keeping house prices up and keep low wages down but not actually saying anything and sneering at everyone else..

      A month ago Labour announced their policy of a target of 1%. This is also the figure that our leading demographer Prof Paul Spoonley thinks is about right since it matches Canada and Australia. However since that announcement Andrew Little has been scared of any immigration debate. And having read this article I can see why. He held a public meeting in Highbury and never once mentioned immigration despite Highbury being a perfect example of the benefits of diversity (at least a dozen different ethnicities just in the local shops) and the adjacent road being selected as Auckland’s friendliest community by Metro magazine.

      Labout should get some of their more visible ethnic candidates to make all immigration announcements; for example Jin An or Raymond Huo.

  7. The other problem with immigration in NZ is that there is no rational, articulate, non-whacko arguing the case against the ‘population ponzi’. Australia has economists like Leith Van Onselen who are exposing the rorts and public costs of this process.

    Follow this link for a 11 minute radio discussion from Leith on Australia’s population ponzi and the effect this is having on Sydney and Melbourne in particular.

    NZ has Shamubeel Eaqub who has done very well explaining the public costs of the housing crisis -but publicly he will not criticise immigration -no matter how high the settings are turned up to.

    Michael Reddell is an economist who advocates for a reduction in immigration. He wants permanent resident numbers reduced from 45,000 to 50,000 a year down to 15,000. But that is not to address the distortions in NZ cities -the productivity losses of unaffordable housing, congested roads, overloaded public services -hospitals, schools…. Michael has a pessimistic stance that NZ due to distance/isolation can only ever be a primary produce exporting country which is based on a fixed quantity of resources and that a bigger population is reducing those resources on a per person basis.

    1. Note this is not to say that I completely agree with Leith Van Onselen. I just feel that in NZ the public debate on immigration is missing some players. I believe this results in the public discussion not considering all the facts and concerns.

  8. This is the article we should have had last week. At least some actual substance to it.

    The poll question about loyalty to the treaty is a red herring though – a recent immigrant isn’t likely to understand the nuances and implications of that question. Suspect most answer yes because it sounds good.

  9. So on the one hand at the beginning you say this: “Here, I want to take a look at the politics of immigration. This is an analytical perspective, rather than a partisan one – I’m seeking to understand what is happening, rather than setting out what I think should be happening.”

    Then you finish with this: “I think this is incredibly important. It tells us a lot about what migration might mean for our country going forward. Migrants are self-selected: It takes a certain amount of motivation to get on the plane to a new land, where you may be cut adrift from all of your previous social and family ties. People do not generally migrate on a whim. They think about where they’re going and (by and large) try to find a place with values that match theirs.

    Many migrants come here with an awareness of New Zealand’s (imperfect but very real) biculturalism and its environmental ethos. They’re not coming to undermine what’s good about the place, but to participate in it. So it seems to me that many of the fears about immigration fundamentally changing New Zealand’s culture are overblown. I think that New Zealanders are generally aware of that, because most of us live and work alongside migrants. And that, too, should be a consideration for parties seeking to harness anti-immigration sentiments for political gain.”
    – Which is basically a very pro-immigration view undermining your “analytical perspective”.

    Temporary work visa’s have their place to a) help NZ companies with a temporary skills shortage – such as apple picking, and b) to help people in poorer countries to earn a bit short term (again apple pickers from the Pacific Islands etc).

    Permanent residency is also something to be strived for and EARNT (not just easily handed out as is currently the case). It should also be reserved for immigrants that NZ wants and NEEDS not what best suits the immigrant or some greedy dodgy employer etc. NZ does not NEED immigrants to move here to become real estate agents for example (there are plenty here already yet a casual observation of most Auckland real estate agencies show that around half are immigrants – particularly from China. It is not a highly skilled job and is certainly one that Kiwis can do – and pays well enough for kiwis to have no qualms doing it too.
    Permanent residency should not be given to someone who has entered the country on a student visa for anything below a Masters level qualification from a University. Anything less that that (normal Bachelors Degree could be on application) should not be able to use the time here towards their residency – it is a sham backdoor method that has plagued the export education sector. So students doing courses below university level should simply be returning home once their course has finished.

      1. “They’re not coming to undermine what’s good about the place, but to participate in it. So it seems to me that many of the fears about immigration fundamentally changing New Zealand’s culture are overblown”
        Certainly sounds like it is taking a pro-immigration stance.

  10. The politicians cant be trusted with immigration.

    Give the 12 month rolling immigration rate to the Reserve Bank to manage as a macroeconomic tool.

    They can then use the the immigration rate & interest rates to maximise the growth in gdp per capita.

    The title is: “” Kiwifruit contractors shamed in damning report “”
    Quote from it: “”Almost all of the employers found in breach were using migrant labour, which is concerning because these are vulnerable people who may not fully know their rights and entitlements””.

    Whoever solves this before NZ loses its good reputation will get my vote.

  12. Ask the Romans how it worked out for them when they started allowing immigrants from outside their imperial borders to settle inside those borders (note – as different from annexing lands)

    I’ll give you a hint: English, a Germanic language, is far more prevalent globally than any Latin language

    1. @HSB1 Alumnus – English became a dominant Lingua Franca only very recently in the last few centuries, while the Roman Empire collapsed more than a thousand years ago (if you don’t count the Byzantine Empire).

      Your statement there makes no sense.

  13. I find it sad that New Zealand politics has stooped this low .. with supposedly ‘progressive’, left-wing parties like Labour quietly sneaking in Brexit-esque anti-immigrant policies, while at the same time having the stomach to criticize Donald Trump. It’s come to the point where I’m starting to hate socialism, because it’s all just finger-pointing .. always somebody else’s fault, never my fault. Nowadays I lean more towards Libertarianism..

    It makes me so angry.. scared, even .. considering how I have many Asian friends. This is not the New Zealand I know.. we are not Britain or America, for god’s sakes.

    These are not refugees or terrorists we are worried about .. they want to slash immigration as a whole. My hometown Christchurch is practically a ghost town .. businesses in the city center have to shut down sometimes because there’s not enough people around .. how the HELL are we in a position to complain about immigrants?

    Look, if you were worried about terrorism, or migrants coming on wooden rafts …. look, I get that. Then again, this is not illegal immigration we are talking about .. they want to slash ALL immigration. That means ‘fuck you’ to those Filipino construction workers and laborers who are helping rebuild Christchurch.

    And what is even more depressing is the reason we succumbed to xenophobia (which is not the same as racism) is because we don’t have the guts to tackle the real root causes of poverty and unemployment in this country – the fact that we are moving into an automated, digital economy where the value of human labour is decreasing exponentially. Immigrants will be the least of our concern, once robots start ‘stealing’ our jobs.

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