Labour Insider – Young Labour Split With Party Over Chinese Surnames



Oh dear. Late last week, Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford caused outrage and upset by using a list of Chinese-sounding surnames to try and claim Auckland had a problem with foreign domination of our housing market.

This was, predictably, pretty bad – and justifiably backfired hard on Labour. It’s not that we don’t have a problem with huge influxes of foreign money into our housing market. We do. It’s not that a prominent source for this cash isn’t China. It is.

It’s just that a list of Chinese-sounding surnames doesn’t prove anything except the laziness of Labour’s Parliamentary Research Unit.

Now, one of the things that a Youth Wing worthy of the name ought to be able to do is act as a slightly exterior “conscience” of their parent party. We’re a little out ahead of what the older heads in the mainstream membership tend to think, while still (hopefully) being in touch with their core values.

TDB Recommends

Often, this means we criticize our elders *inside* the tent, while taking pains not to overturn the apple-cart … but every so often, one of the high-ups from our own party (whatever that might be) does something so sufficiently face-palm inducing that we feel we have no choice other than to “speak out”.

It’s something that has happened repeatedly during the more tempestuous periods of my relationship with New Zealand First – first, during the #Wogistan debacle (in which NZ First Youth had Richard Prosser officially Clause 9’d and Censured for his remarks; while I found myself extensively quoted in the media on same); and then when I stated my own personal support for Equality of Marriage in a press-conference down at Parliament.

Each time, there was interior fallout. And each time, we weathered the storm – precisely because we knew what we were doing was, broadly speaking, right.

Unfortunately, that’s not what appears to be happening within Young Labour at the moment.

An insider source came to me yesterday with information that suggested a “very large vocal majority of Young Labour” reckon Labour’s Parliamentary Caucus have the wrong end of the stick on this issue.

This isn’t surprising, but what they told me next, is.

Apparently, there’s majority backing within Young Labour for some sort of public statement (presumably in the form of a press release) that criticizes the Caucus’s position “the collection and use of statistical data on the basis of “Asian surnames”,” and which calls for Phil Twyford to be “demoted or personally apologise”.

Needless to say, such a ballsy public statement would require Young Labour’s Executive to sign off on its delivery.

This hasn’t happened, allegedly because “YL leaders have apparently been approached by senior party figures” and told in no uncertain terms that should they do this, “their personal party memberships will be cancelled by the NZ Council”.

That was the situation as of yesterday afternoon, and I’m given to understand that somewhere upwards of thirty young activists have resigned from Young Labour as a result. They’re frustrated that their Youth Wing’s leadership apparently lacks the spine to stand up to the parent party and tell it straight-up when it’s gone done wrong.

Now, as somebody who’s been in this position himself a good many times before, and who once entertained notions of a Parliamentary career … I would just like to say I empathize somewhat with Young Labour’s Exec.

It’s NEVER easy to find yourself effectively being screamed at from *all* sides, and to have to weigh up the delicate balance between one’s individual conscience, the group you’re representing, and Dire Threats From On High about what they might do to you should you do the right thing.

It’s also hella, HELLA annoying to witness the good work you do attracting young people to your party occasionally go up in smoke because some MP decides to make political mileage out of a questionably quasi-racist statement. *Koff koff* (sorry, must be all the cigarette smoke in here)

But the important thing in politics – particularly when you’re acting as a representative for others – is to do the RIGHT thing, the principled thing, rather than the “easy” thing.

And then hope that your minor footnote in our political history reads sweetly and judges you kindly in consequence.

Anything else?

Well, that’s just playing the game.


  1. Your being a bit cute here are you not Curwen, Winston is a past master of scapegoating the very same Chinese as Twyford and his supporters have taken to with the racial profiling,

    Having said that there is a point that most of us agree on, simply put to buy property in New Zealand the law should require the buyer to hold a New Zealand passport???,

    Of course Twyfords half inched data is spurious rubbish, there are 471,000 asian New Zelander’s and Twyford quoting figures for those who only reside in Auckland as if only those who reside in Auckland are buying into real estate in that city is laughable,

    It is the speculation in real estate that needs be addressed as a whole not some small part, based upon the race of those speculating,

    It is the tax incentives that favor ‘investors’ over Ma and Pa Home buyers along with the major tool of that speculation being offered by the Banks, long term interest only loans’, that should be the focal point of the political discourse,

    BUT, you will not hear a peep either from your chosen political vehicle or Labour about such tools that disadvantage Ma and Pa Home buyers simply because within those Party’s membership and hierarchy property speculation is rife,

    Read The Standard for long enough and you will get an inkling of just who and how many are multiple property owners,(all of whom add to the price inflation every time they indulge),

    Mike Williams of the Mike and Matty from the right and from the further right on my wireless this week let slip that he had just bought a property, i was sorely disappointed that no questions were asked of him about this purchase, But, doubt that Williams just happened to be buying his first home,

    So, it is obvious to at least me that Labour are riddled with those speculating in real estate prices and it is hypocritical for Twyford to scapegoat a section of society based upon race as ‘the culprit’,

    So Curwen, how does the NZFirst membership and Party hierarchy stack up in the numbers of those who own/hold multiple properties???…

  2. Those people who want to make Labour look silly have only to produce the data that “the laziness of Labour’s Parliamentary Research Unit” failed to find. So why not concentrate on that instead? Because although Twyford’s data is not scientific, mathematically it’s odds on that he is right.
    I understand that the Real Estate Agency, that owned the data, has sacked the whistleblower, so it is in a perfect position to prove from its data that Phil Twyford is wrong. So produce it.

    • Denis…if they were to produce the information, it would likely breach privacy laws. It would also get B&T into massive trouble with it’s customers who have supplied private data in good faith. There is also no way you can assume the assumptions Twyford has made are mathematically odds on correct. Having an asian sounding name doesn’t prove you are either Asian or not a NZ’er.

  3. Curwen – good post

    It needed saying.

    I am disgusted by this whole thing. That the party should stoop so low to grab a few votes from Winston Peters.

    Votes from people you wouldn’t want to associate with anyway.

    • Yeah mate – and I’ll bet you would be EVEN MORE disgusted if this caused National to have to introduce a Foreign Owners Register – something with which , – if they had nothing to hide in the first place would have ensured this debate would never have happened .

      That , – and effective laws to prevent foreign speculation.

      Far easier for people like you to just wheel out the old ‘ RACISM ‘ card , though , isn’t it – particularly as people like you would rather New Zealanders not know the truth about the Auckland housing crisis and whats really driving it.

      Spare us your crocodile tears and tell the truth for a change.

  4. For crying out loud. Stop blowing this into something that it isn’t. It is a proven method to gain an insight into things and as a method, crude as it sounds, it works. It does not “prove” anything about anybody, but it does set up a case for further investigation.
    I said the other day, all this posturing and faux outrage at something that does not exist in this, racism, is playing straight into the hands of John Key.
    Up to now, I have excused the left, of which I am a part, for its seeming inability to march in step. I could explain it to myself in knowing that for many of us the tune is different. Not right, not wrong, but different.
    But this!!
    Yes it is, on the surface a bit ham fisted, but it is ALL we have to go on beyond anecdotal evidence and we’ve accused of xenophobia enough with that. The pig headed govt refuses to do anything meaningful.
    Stop for a minute, will you, and look at this from the same point of view it was intended to be – an exercise in the balance of probabilities.
    There is a huge amount of money in China looking for something solid to “invest” in and for a very, very long time owning land has been the ultimate. China has no private land ownership, so that money is looking elsewhere for a “home”. There is absolutely no reason in the world, whatsoever, not to think a great deal of it will find its way here. Its effect could be catastrophic for people wanting buy a home, even for people needing to rent.
    NZ has had a long tradition of home ownership, it is a cornerstone of a decent society such as ours.
    We have many people in this country now, who haven’t known that culture of ours and are probably wondering why we are kicking up about not being able to afford our own homes. It’s been going on for a while now, so a lot of those people will actually have been born here.
    We have a shortage of houses in Auckland, particularly. It will take a while to resolve that with supply alone, probably impossible without doing something about demand.
    A stroke of a pen would put foreign nationals out. The lot, especially foreign landlords who may be picking up welfare in the form of accommodation top ups etc. Where the hell else in the world can you claim welfare in another country?
    My next move would be to put the squeeze on this hideous business of every man and his dog aspiring to be a landlord. The rise of the rentier class is probably worse than foreign buying, foreigners becoming part of the rentier class probably the most abhorrent of all.
    Just put this aside will you or nothing will change, it was not intended to be racist, stop trying to make it so. Let’s all deal with the actual problem shall we, so we can all can continue to afford to live in the country and not merely be tenants in it.

Comments are closed.