Racist immigration policies – the painful thorn in the side of Pasifika communities


disability2On Sunday the Labour Party released its immigration policy but it’s hard to know why Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Trevor Mallard bothered to get out of bed to make the announcement.

The Herald kindly titled it “Labour looks at reuniting Pacific families” but there was nothing of substance in the release. Instead Labour is pledging to form a ministerial group to review Pacific Island immigration issues, review Pacific quotas and improve family reunification.

It’s a policy which says “look busy – the election is coming” but fails to deliver anything meaningful.

Labour wants Pacific Island voters to think it has their best interests at heart so party votes will keep flowing to Labour from Pacific communities.

The Mana Movement candidate for Mangere, James Papali’i says Labour’s plans are too timid. He says that after waiting patiently on the sidelines for so long Pasifika people want to see some bold immigration policies. He says Labour plans are too little, too late and it’s easy to see why.

Mana policy is to treat Pacific people the same as we treat Australians when it comes to immigration. Australians can hop on a plane, fly over, get a job here and stay as long as they like. Pacific people should be able to do the same.

It’s not an issue about skills because no-one stands at the airport and asks Australians if they have skills we need.

The simple truth is that immigration policies under successive Labour and National governments have had a deeply racist underbelly as the infamous dawn raids under both parties testify. Not only that but Samoan communities remember only too well the betrayal they faced in 1982 when Labour joined with the National government to legislate against Samoan families after a court case ruled those born during the time New Zealand was the colonial power in Samoa could claim New Zealand citizenship.

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Today Samoan and Tongan communities are still hit the hardest by racist immigration policies. Unlike people from the Cook Islands for example who are New Zealand citizens and can move freely in and out Samoans and Tongans are subject to tough entry restrictions and miserable quotas.

Pacific communities have contributed hugely to the building of New Zealand’s industrial base over the past 60 years or so. In James Papali’i’s words “My Dad and his two brothers came here in the mid-fifties and worked in factories all their lives. They built churches, raised families and Labour has taken their votes for granted for too long”. Indeed.

Mana’s policy of free entry to New Zealand would require careful management and introduction but it’s easily doable.

In the meantime MANA has refreshingly bold immigration policies and three great Pasifika candidates who will be calling on Pacific people to give their party vote to Internet MANA this election.


  1. NZ’s immigration policies need to reflect the immigration status of NZ in the migrants country of origin … Why is NZ not imposing Aussie style policies on Aussie immigrants to NZ? Fair is fair!

    NZ’s immigration policy needs to reflect the other country’s immigration policy … Can a NZ work there? Live there? Receive health care there? Move their family there?

    I’ve got no future in NZ. Unfortunately, there’s no other country I can go to!

  2. Borders and nation states are essentially the creation of elite power mongers. Yes geographic and historic communities feature too of course.

    The free movement of people around the Pacific or indeed whole world is mainly at the whim of globalised capital at the moment. If you have a few bucks air conditioned first class awaits. If you are a refugee or looking for a better life elsewhere–tough.

    Why should the rest of us put up with it? Pasifika–vote Mana!

    • There is an economic value to being the member of a nation.The Australian Productivity Commission concluded that there was little or no benefit to Australians from immigration (it had all been captured by the migrants). Our own Productivity Commission was limited in scope so it’s terms of inquiry were “uncontroversial given the desire to establish broad political support for the Commission”.
      Why should we feel obliged to take people who multiply faster than ourselves and overshoot their island paradise?
      In an ideal world we would pick and choose with countries the same as our own but we are seeing a diffusion from over populated to modestly populated.

  3. Are you also advocating reciprocal free entry for New Zealanders into the Pacific Islands concerned or do you see practical reasons why not ?

    The world ‘racism’ seems an easy crutch to support a flimsy proposition but if the race is Polynesian, then your argument is not supported by the fact that Cook Islanders, being Polynesian, have free access. Rather than racism it’s a matter of history and the fact that New Zealand is a sovereign country with the obligation to decide for the benefit of existing New Zealanders who comes here.

    • Nice try Patrick but this policy within Labour is racist even labour party members say it is, we can pretend the quota is to protect our economy when the combined population of Samoa and Tonga make up 1% of 21 million Anglo-Australians.

    • Free entry to the Pacific Islands is a matter for their governments. Mana is concerned with the governance of Aotearoa and can only advocate for local policies. Gone are the days when Kiwi bureaucrats and politicians made policy for the islands, even though Key and co. would no doubt love to bring them back.

  4. I think it needs a quality discussion when Pacific people are over represented in Poverty, overcrowding, and homelessness. It’s probably unrealistic for Pacific people to succeed in a cut throat business environment, so education and employment may be better.

    I think that when Pacific people have worked and endured hardships they would prefer to retire back in the islands in their old age.

    There is also that barrier for sports players to succeed beyond the All Blacks.

  5. Recently in discussing climate change refugees I read that Kiribatti has a population problem. It seems that all the pacific Island populations are in overshoot.
    I don’t believe NZ needs migrants, we have reached a production possibility frontier (if you exclude real estate for money earned offshore). GDP per capita rose while we developed roading, refrigeration, built dams and broke in the high country.
    Calling NZr’s racist is adding insult to injury.

    • “Stretching over 3.5 million sq km (1.35 million sq mi) of the ocean, Kiribati consists of several islands spread across a territory of similar size to India, but most of the population is concentrated on South Tarawa.

      This tiny crescent of land is home to around 50,000 people – it’s overcrowded, with a population density similar to Tokyo or Hong Kong.”

    • Why then don’t you advocate for Aussies not to be able to hop over the ditch and stay if they want, this is the anomaly.

      • I’m not sure what you mean. Do you mean Aussies may want to come due to climate change?
        At present there is advantage to both countries to be able to move back and forth (i.e it is two way/ fair swap).

  6. The simple truth is that immigration policies under successive Labour and National governments have had a deeply racist underbelly as the infamous dawn raids under both parties testify.
    Racial preference cuts both ways (being a feature of human evolution) however it is also a matter of trading for equal value. Australia tightened up when it percieved we were a back door to the third world.

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