A suggestion by the Labour candidate for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti that New Zealand should ‘stop immigrant workers coming here’ has been slammed by the Green Party.
Responding to comments Meka Whaitiri made in an iwi radio interview on Friday, Green Party candidate Marama Davidson said such attitudes were out of date and out of place in Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.
“I could not believe the Labour candidate seriously suggested that we should adopt the xenophobic policies of the far right” said Ms Davidson who worked for ten years at the Human Rights Commission.
“At the Commission we spent a lot of time challenging racism, embracing diversity and helping refugees and new immigrants appreciate the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi.”
Ms Davidson said traditional values of manaaki manuhiri and indigenous peoples solidarity stood in stark contrast to anti-immigration policies of ultra right wing parties and organisations.
“I doubt this is Labour Party policy, but it is disturbing if Ms Whaitiri’s advisors have suggested that picking on immigrant workers could be an election winner. Rather than banning all migrant workers, the Green Party would support a review of the special permit process that seasonal workers come in on to fill so-called labour shortages.”
“Our Pacific cousins have a long history of coming to New Zealand to build a better life for themselves and contribute to our land-based industries. Likewise many immigrants such as the Tamils from Sri Lanka, have struggled against colonization in their own land, losing loved ones to armed conflict. We should be standing alongside, not demonise them.”
Ms Davidson said migrant workers in the horticultural sector are being used as scapegoats for successive employment policy failures by both Labour and National.
“Recent research shows migrant labour actually stimulates the economy and creates more employment opportunities, but we still have high rates of under-employment amongst our own people and this needs to be addressed urgently. We know many migrant workers don’t have the same opportunities and protections as New Zealand citizens, nor the monitoring by state agencies in the same way our people experience. A review of the special permits process and a focus on matching locals looking for work with the contractors seems a more sensible approach than an outright ban on all migrant workers.”
Marama Davidson, Green Party candidate, 021 025 88302
Jack Tautokai McDonald, Communications Assistant, 027 759 1680 / jack [dot] mcdonald [at] greens [dot] org [dot] nz
Authorised by Metiria Turei, Parliament Buildings, Wellington