Don’t believe the hype – we can take more refugees


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Every so often I make a comment on social media and am intrigued by the responses I get from people who share my Samoan and Pasifika heritage, grew up on the same streets as me in Otara and sat next to me in pews at church. Having had similar experiences at school, church and state housing, I’m always a little taken by how we now reflect on the world. I think it’s a great thing that after years of living in this country, people are able to express very diverse views of the world.

So over the weekend just gone our little family thought it would be good to spend a couple of hours on the final weekend of the school holidays rallying in solidarity with refugees around the world who continue to be displaced and are fleeing for their lives. As a family we’re still feeling the sting of the recent deportation of a family man and dad back to Tuvalu after a number of community meetings and attempts to get residency.

So it came as a surprise to me after some posts on social media that my very own ‘shared experiences’ “friends” commented (publicly although mostly privately) that NZ had more pressing issues internally to attend to, rather than open its doors to refugees: like poverty, the housing crisis and more jobs. Motivated by the impression that if we aren’t feeding, housing or employing our own, then refugees will only thwart current attempts.

Yet we have a government that gives hundreds of millions to bail out finance companies, gives more millions in loans to struggling media outlets, yet more millions for a referendum on a flying symbol and another million to host a prince for a week who attends dress up parties wearing a swastika. For that kind of money we could have had a wide reaching schools breakfast programme, maintained the warm up home insulation programme, increased our social housing stock and created a whole lot more jobs. Instead, as someone commented on my post – It’s not a case of one or the other akin to opportunity cost in an open market system. Nor is it a case of one before the other. We have enough resource to achieve these goals alongside each other.
I’ve had a gutsful of the biased media reports that tell us these refugees will only promulgate Muslim ideals, become an economic burden and in the Pacific instance, shouldn’t be here anyway because they’re here illegally. These reports are highly prejudiced but in my opinion are driven by a deep-rooted fear. The fear of not knowing, understanding or empathising with people, values or aspirations that are different. It’s that very fear that fuels a neo-colonial view of the world – a value propagated by mainstream news media. The challenge for my own ‘shared experiences’ “friends”, but moreso for NZ as a nation, is whether we succumb to that popular discourse and heed the hype.


  1. I think our first responsibility where migrants go, must be to climate change refugees in the Pacific. If we don’t, no-one will. After that we can discuss refugees from other areas.

  2. Thanks Efeso for this article and for reminding us that ignorance and fear breed bigotry and prejudice.

  3. Greetings, Efeso. And thanks for this reflection.

    Some of your Facebook friends may have been deceived into believing we don’t have enough for all Pasifika refugees plus many more. It’s pleasing to see so clearly stated that we would have more than enough for all in need were we to deport the current PM, our highest profile overstayer who comes with such expensive friends, who want not only all the wealth we have here but also all power over it and us.

  4. If we can take 30,000 migrants many of whom seem to have NZ ‘essential skills’ like tiling and cookery to get citizenship here and not to mention the NZ uni finishing school system with free residency leading to citizenship, I for one would love to welcome more refugees who in my view actually will hopefully be grateful to live here, (not as a passport stepping stone to OZ) and want to work and contribute in the future.

    In my view refugees will become better citizens and are far more needy, than many of the migrants who the NZ government welcomes with open arms and pitifully few conditions.

  5. Agreed. We can take more refugees from Syria, as well as climate refugees from slowly sinking pacific islands.

    If we can’t, there’s something seriously wrong with us as a nation.

  6. Most refugees are victims of the wars that NZ troops actively participates in. Most are genuine refugees but some are not.
    Apparently though many are not refugees and are being used to create chaos
    And then in Germany the paid mercenaries creating trouble..

    Best thing to do is to stop destroying other nations, stop the invasions/wars. Make the banksters fund a rebuild of their bombed infrastructure.

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