A word on foreigners, xenophobia and racism



As he lashed out to defend his interventions for wealthy Chinese investors government MP Maurice Williamson has raised the issue of xenophobia as being at least partly to blame for his downfall.

He says many New Zealanders are xenophobic towards Chinese investors and makes the comparison with the lack of public concern about US movie director James Cameron buying farms in the Wairarapa compared with immediate alarm and negative publicity about Chinese companies buying farms or homes in Auckland.

Williamson has a point. Large numbers of New Zealanders are xenophobic and quite a large number are simply racist. An English-speaking white immigrant will generally be much more acceptable than another of “non-white” ethnicity for whom English is a second language.

A few years back when Labour Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel announced the government would fast-track immigration for white Zimbabwean farmers under racist attack there was general public approval but had she announced the government would fast-track black Zimbabwean political refugees – under far greater threat from violence and persecution than white farmers – there would have been a collective uproar from many sections of the country.

As Don Brash showed at Orewa and the National government showed recently over its declared intention to incarcerate any refugees who arrive by boat there is a racist underbelly to this country.

I think Williamson is right that xenophobia may have amplified media and public concern at his intervening with police for a wealthy Chinese donor to the National Party but it doesn’t begin to explain the huge concern at the close and growing symbiotic relationship between the National Party leadership and wealthy foreign investors. These are National’s kith and kin.

When it comes to helping the wealthy or grovelling before the corporate sector National is in a class of its own. We have a government which has given tens of millions to the likes of Rio Tinto, Warner Brothers and a host of other corporate ne’er do wells but demonises citizens who are welfare recipients. It’s a government which can give $2 million for a golf tournament at the property of one of the wealthiest New Zealanders, Michael Hill, “otherwise the tournament would have run at a loss” (sic), while turfing out low-income families from their homes to make way for the rich. It’s a toady government of corporate sycophants.

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On the wider issue of foreign investment New Zealand does need to get real. When a busload of wealthy Australian mums tours our real estate and flies back having bought one or two homes apiece then we should be up in arms. When advertisements appear in the Singapore Straits Times advertising great investment opportunities in Auckland and Christchurch real estate because there is “no capital gains tax” then we should be outraged. When investors from anywhere in the world come here to sponge off us then we should say BUGGAR OFF!

This type of foreign investment is deeply damaging to our economy and the life opportunities of New Zealand families. It has to be stopped.

Likewise employers who refuse to train New Zealand workers for jobs in the construction industry in Christchurch in particular and instead recruit cheaper, more compliant workers from overseas, both in Europe and Asia, should be told a loud NO.

When we have 160,000 unemployed and a further 100,000 who can’t get enough hours of work because they are on crap contracts with no guaranteed hours then it’s time to tell these employers to get stuffed.

It’s not xenophobic or racist to oppose cronyism and political patronage in the National Party. It’s not xenophobic or racist to stop foreigners coming to New Zealand to bid up house prices out of the reach of New Zealand families and neither is it xenophobic or racist to demand New Zealand employers take on New Zealand workers for training and up-skilling before going overseas to recruit.

It’s simply about self-respect.


  1. New Zealanders are not racists we just want our Assets protected from being ripped off by unscrupulous overseas investors whether they are white, black, pink or yellow.

    We have had a history of Tory Governments selling off NZ to offshore institutions with no gain to NZ.

    We have sold off most of our State Assets and we have record levels of overseas debt and borrowings, housing prices are at record levels driven by overseas buyers trying to get a foothold here in NZ where will it end for the average NZ.

    National don’t have any answers, they have done nothing for six years apart from driving up our $ and driving up NZ house prices.

    All they can do is play the fear card and keep trying to hang it on the Opposition Parties.

  2. Bravo John, well said. The ring up your MP and get a favour in the judicial process is very non-Kiwi to me – lack of corruption is one of the things that makes our country different. People I know who have emigrated here from Europe can’t believe how clean we are here – and they want us to keep it that way.

    On foreign ownership – the much-heralded flagship wine industry is 65% foreign-owned. So when you see that wine exports have topped $1bn just remember that’s really only $350m, the profits from the rest will ship offshore.

  3. National Party is more concerned about the welfare of Asian Financiers than the NZ tax payers …… One wonders if the sale of NZ Assets is already in the hands of Wealthy Asian Financiers … When is it going to STOP!!

    • It won’t stop until we get a Government that is going to govern the country in the best interests of the people of New Zealand we have had successive Governments who have been divesting State Assets and handing them over to the elite families here in NZ and the worldwide Merchant Banking Community. These people know exactly what they are doing, and one day we will all wake up to what has gone on.

      Key is merely a cog in the wheel in the transfer of wealth from the State to the 1% percenters who control the world financial sytem, basically we are passing the control of NZ to these people. The Government level of fiduciary care in NZ over the past 30-40 years has been abysmal to say the least.

  4. It will stop when we vote in a government of the left with a good smattering of anti-foreign sales MPs, pushing hard for the executive to institute anti-foreign assets, property and mineral-rights sales. As an assimilated immigrant of 40+ years, I want NZ to belong to it’s tangata whenua and citizens–those who want it’s preservation of resources and beauty. A large inclusion of parties of the left in our votes, is the only course to take.

  5. It is ultimately a class issue, the small ruling class club of capitalists have little problem with race amongst themselves as it applies to their fellow billionaires or their immediate underlings; but use racism as a handy tool to help divide the rest of society.

    This undermines solidarity among the oppressed and exploited of New Zealand and the world. John Key said this week his government welcomes Asian people and other newcomers, but he does not mean ordinary working families and definitely not political refugees. He means moneybags rip off merchants.

    A recent survey (in Auck Western Leader) showed local SMEs were 50% less likely to even interview if the persons CV had an obviously non European name. A great contrast in the article described the (unionised) Mt Albert Pak ’n’ Save which takes the opposite approach and caters for migrant workers, with a prayer room and other features.

  6. “…An English-speaking white immigrant will generally be much more acceptable than another of “non-white” ethnicity for whom English is a second language…”

    There is a big difference between someone who simply finds the more familiar to be more acceptable in new migrants because of shared cultural, language, social and historical reason and a racist.

    The hard left hate the idea of New Zealand because they cling to outmoded Marxist ideas of internationalism. The hard right hate the idea of New Zealand because they see localism and nationalism as a potential rallying points against their globalised economic agenda.

    The hard left and the hard right are in an unholy alliance to destroy our unique culture and belittle it’s achievements. We need political parties to stop acting like grovelling Quislings who label any questioning of their actions as “racist”.

  7. There’s undoubtedly a bit of racism in the mix, but it’s mostly about fairness. Try this little experiment: go to Beijing and try to buy an apartment as a foreigner. Your chances would be about 0.00001%
    We are being staggeringly naive, allowing foreigners of whatever skin colour to buy up our properties and inflate our house prices.

    • Some years ago I was interested in starting a business in American Samoa, however, I soon discovered that the business would have to be 51% American Samoan owed. This meant that, even if I had a local Samoan wife, we could not have been equal partners in the enterprise.
      Further research found that most Pacific Island nations have laws in place to stop rich foreigners driving up local land, business and house prices. Perhaps it past time we thought of following our neighbours example, or at the very least introducing a capital gains tax.

  8. What a surprise: a conservative (though I think once they begin talking like that, they deserve the label ‘right winger’) pretends that those against corruption are racist, simply because the person attempting to buy influence is of Asian origin. I think Williams’ suggestion is itself racist.
    It’s become abundantly clear that even attempting to have an honest conversation with conservatives about the influence of money in politics is impossible. All they do is lie, name-call and distract. We who are against corruption and the influence of money over politics, are either commies, liars, now racists – of course we’re probably very very Unpatriotic… their rhetoric seems to be coming directly from America’s republican party. I sincerely hope that centrist Kiwis are put off by these overt attempts at distracting and avoiding this extremely important discussion – about a subject that will, in future years, hugely impact our democracy. It’s on the fringes now, but those paying attention know what’s coming. And unless we sort it out sooner rather the later, democracy in NZ will – just like America and Russia – be an aesthetic prop. Just like the ‘Clean Green NZ’ branding is to the National Government. Collins let slip what those paying attention know – like Simon Bridges, she doesn’t give two hoots about NZ’s environment.

  9. Three questions John.

    1. How many NZ’ers employment depends on trade with China?
    2. How many NZ’ers own businesses in China?
    3. Hoe many NZ’ers live and work in China?

    I’ll bet you have no idea of the reciprocal influence we have. None.

    • 1. Trading with China is a completely different activity to foreigners buying our land. Just because we put some protection in place for our own land, does not mean we have to cease trading.
      2. Probably nowhere near as many as Asians who own businesses here. And might I add, large businesses.
      3. Again, NZ’ers living and working (though bet they do not own property) in China has no bearing on us trading with them.

      I therefore believe you argument is irrelevant.

      • 1. You have no idea how the real world works. How we treat foreign nationals can and does have a bearing on how wel trade links work. And do you have any idea how much land NZ’ers own overseas? Do you think that should be stopped? (Before you answer, NZ’ers own far more land overseas than foreigners own in NZ).

        2. You’d need to provide some proof, because clearly you have no idea.

        3. Of course it does. Some of those people are influential in trade negotiations, others are part of ‘selling’ NZ to the Chinese.

        There is a strong sense of xenophobia and paranoia of people like you against immigrants that reeks of hypocrisy.

        • Care to cite a reference for your claim 1. – the part in brackets? Interested to see the relative areas of NZ ownership overseas vs foreign ownership here.

        • How bizarre. So we must give people who’ve moved from China to NZ carte blanche with regards to the law?
          Yeah that makes sense. Wouldn’t want to offend anyone by holding them as accountable as everyone else for their actions, right?
          That reality is Tory thinking: corruption = freedom!
          Yeah I must be racist – because I don’t see ‘foreigners’ as being different to you and I. Right, mister National Party?

  10. When talking of investment we need to distinguish between trading and investing. If foreigners or foreign companies build new factories or new homes even that would be investment. Simply trading houses using carry trade money is not. All the transfer of ownership does in further raise the NZ$ and the RBNZ’s need to increase interest rates, dragging more carry trade money in.

    While foreign direct investment is arguable, trading in NZ housing by foreign interests is not.

    • I think you should have added ownership in there, as to my mind, much of this foreign “investment” is actually ownership and if we used that word instead, a whole lot more people will think a bit more about what they really think about it

    • Yes you are right and he will leave, only coming back to check on his investments and to collect his Knighthood. 🙁

  11. Great the Pacific Islanders managed to keep control of their countries.

    It is very difficult to purchase land in the Cook Islands, Tahiti and New Caledonia as far as I am aware, the Maori Land Court made it easy for the British Settlors to acquire land by fair means or foul.

  12. Basically you are blaming foreigners of unemployment. You are giving same reasons that the xenophobic right wing.

    Unemployment is provoked for a contradiction of the capitalist system, not about the population living in a country. You are using the same argument than the right wing ideas of Robert Malthus, blaming overpopulation of the unemployment, in this case foreigners that come here and make the population bigger.

    So, you are opposed that people freely work overseas like the residents in the European Union. What is wrong about the fact that people from France go and work to Germany? Or people from Italy to France?

    So, should Australian employers train Australian workers instead of hiring skilled NZers?

    What would you reccomend to the Venezuelan or Cuban goverment that provides free education and free health system to many foreigners? I am pretty sure you would suppor the anti-goverment venezuela protestors claiming cubans to go out their country.

    I am proudly a migrant and I dont see anything wrong about the fact skilled OR UNSKILLED migrants come to live here. I used to respect you for fighting against the apartheid, but I see that your political position is to blame foreigners. You want to close the border until unemployment in NZ doesnt exist. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT NAZIS say.

    • Mighty Migrant,
      I assume you are referring to The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus who’s ideas of mass starvation where delayed by the so called Green Revolution. Unfortunately he may be proven correct in the final analysis as the fertilisers and pesticides used for that paradigm shift in agricultural farming are rapidly depleting our remaining topsoil.
      This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, and comes with the extra benefit that an increase in our topsoil would act as a carbon sink for some of the Co2 we have pumped into the atmosphere.

      • No. I am not talking about food supply. I am talking about the fact that even if the population decreases the unemployment will not decrease.

        If you want to talk about food supply we can do it. But I am not taking about that.

        Hugo Chavez was a great revolutionary.

        He gave undocumented foreigners same rights than venezuelans. He welcomed people from the whole world to live in Venezuela. That is HUGE diference between nationalistic xenophobic people compared international revolutionaries.

        Minto should be fighting to give same rights NZers enjoy to undocumented foreigners. Oh wait. Minto is not the revolutionary Hugo Chavez.

        Dont believe me about that? Read this http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/10599

        Argentina also welcomes and make it very easy to people to live there. But there the some people in the left are quite xenophobic.

        Nobody choose the country they are born. Nobody choose their race.

        Stop making a difference between NZers and foreigners. It is shame foreigners are always blamed.

        • I wouldn’t praise Hugo Chavez too highly. His reforms have made what used to be one of the richest countries in Latin America a basket case. Crime is through the roof. Businesses have collapsed and unemployment and inflation are soaring under his hand-picked succcessor. That ‘analysis’ you pointed to looks like the product of his propaganda machine.

          However, I’m with you on backing more immigration. It’s what made Australia and America great.

    • And yeah, kiddo: because of your childish perception of what was written, the Labour Party is TOTALLY all about killing Jews, gypsies, dark-skinned and gay people until there are no more.
      NICE take on reality! Really – truly you recognize the real world when you see it.

  13. I completely agree John.

    Will Labour stop sales of NZ property to non citizens and non residents though? I have not heard of such a policy by Labour.

    Would the Greens stop it?

    What about buying existing businesses in NZ, would Labour or Greens stop this to non citizens or non residents?

    I’m hazarding a guess that they would not.

    And I know Winston says he’d stop it. But he had his chance to do that already (after promising to do it and thus getting many NZers to vote for him on that basis) and he traded his promises for baubles from National. So no matter what Winston says I don’t trust him.

    Can we trust Labour? The Greens?

  14. Those last two posts are so true and so depressing
    get rid of key and his band of traitors this September.
    End the pain
    Restore self worth and integrity

  15. Accusing people of racism is a have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife-yet sort of argument: its effect is to shut down debate. Nobody likes being called a racist, after all.

    Yet it’s part of the human condition to prefer to live and socialise with people who are like us: who speak the same language and share our culture. Call it racism, rail against it all you like; it won’t make a blind bit of difference.

    Many of us are very unhappy at the way in which rich foreigners are able to come here and buy up our farmland and houses. We don’t give a good goddam where they come from or what colour their skin is: that’s not the issue. This is a small country in terms of landmass; we shouldn’t be alienating as much of it as we’ve done thus far. There’s no doubt at all that this has influenced rocketing prices – in Auckland and elsewhere. And we should be able to say that we don’t bloody like it, without being characterised as racists for it.

    An example: in the late 1970s, we sold a house in provincial New Zealand and moved to Auckland. After a lot of hunting around, we bought a place in northern Manukau City, very close to the Auckland city boundary, for a couple of thousand less than we’d sold for. At the time, a real estate agent told me that it was possible to buy a bungalow on a half-section in Remuera for $50,000. So at that period, prices in parts of Auckland weren’t hugely different from those in provincial cities.

    As recently as the late 1980s – at the beginning of the serious foreign buy-up in Auckland – it was still possible to buy a house on the Remuera fringes for less than $500,000. Good luck with that nowadays!

    We may not be able to put this particular cork back in the bottle, but we sure as hell can take steps to slow it down; that’s what I expect of the next government.

    • It’s also part of the human condition for males to attempt to have sexual intercourse with females if they feel the urge to. Except oh — that would be sexual assault, and would make you a criminal. I’m sure you wouldn’t argue that. So yes, while humans are conditioned to seek out those who resemble ourselves, we should and need to be better than our baser instincts.

      You say you “don’t give a damn where they come from or what colour their skin is” yet you also say you prefer to live and socialise with “people who are like us”. So which is it?

  16. A wealthy Chinese business investor comes and gets PR, gets a supportive MP assist with citizenship initiation, gets help by the MP phoning the cops to make sure he gets treated ‘fairly”, has the MP assist him to buy a nice beach house next to the MP’s, and he speaks hardly any English, as I hear. He then bashes his wife, or something of that sorts, gets charged, and people talk of “xenophobia”.

    A Chinese student of less fortunate back-ground comes to study here, sees some financial problems, sees the need to work and earn a bit of money, and needs more than the 20 hours allowed, so he runs into a restaurateur offering a job, takes it, and ends up working 30 to 40 hours week, and the boss pays him less than the minimum wage.

    He is not happy but gets told to shut up, and as he does not want to lose the extra income, he puts up with it, but gets done for working illegally.

    Two scenarios by migrants of sorts, and one gets a special treatment, the other a hard deal.

    For Maurice Williamson to turn this into generalised xenophobia is a bit rich, I must say. There are many different cases, and many may have sympathy with the latter one, and less so with the first one.

    Also, I must conclude then, that those opposed to have Dotcom and his Internet Party cooperate with Mana, may also be “xenophobic”, not liking a wealthy migrant of different ethnic background.

    Am I right or wrong? Well, I think that it is fair to say, that there is some prejudice and racism, but that generally, in places like Auckland, it is hardly practiced and spoken out. I think Williamson is just trying every angle to make himself look less guilty, by blaming others or the circumstances, which does not serve his cause in my eyes.

  17. A high level of unemployment/under employment is highly desirable for a Tory Government as it keeps wages down. Employing imported overseas labour means employers can negotiate lower pay rates, hence increased profitability. It is a sad situation when we can not fill jobs with Kiwi labour, it was a pity the Tories bannished the National Apprenticeship Scheme 20-30 years ago and we lost decades of building skills which were not passed on to our younger generations.
    Hence we ended up with Nationals Leaky Building Program where we had hammerhands building houses under Nationals New Building Codes.

    This Government has still not sorted their Leaky Building Program from more than a decade ago.

  18. It’s really quite amazing just how unable to read a relatively short post the Tories who’ve replied here are. Tea-Party levels of simply ignoring what has been written, in service of spewing hatred at their political opponent. Yet all they do is make themselves look like childish nincompoops.

  19. “This type of foreign investment is deeply damaging to our economy”

    John, with respect, it is not “our economy”.

    The New Zealand economy is the possession of capitalists and others with similar class station, privilege and interests. Those of us on wages or benefits exercise no leverage on the economy unless we unite and take concerted action in very large numbers – a thing we have not done for ages.
    Repeating the myth that workers have some sort of stake in the fortunes of capital is unhelpful, as well as being factually wrong.

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