Refugees and Racism


I recall in the early 2000s when Mugabe was on the rampage in Zimbabwe while the world watched on in horror but took no effective action. This all changed when white farms were under siege and some white farmers were killed as Mugabe tried to blame them for his own economic incompetence and failure to provide hope to black Zimbabweans living in abject poverty. 

Suddenly the world took notice and here in Aotearoa our Minister of Immigration – now the current Mayor of Christchurch, Lianne Dalziel – spoke eagerly about fast-tracking the entry to New Zealand of white farmers under attack. Conspicuously she didn’t show the same empathy for black Zimbabwean activists who were being murdered in their hundreds and under much higher risk of death and serious injury from Mugabe’s henchmen.


A reaction driven by racism. 

Now, regarding Ukraine, the government has announced we will take in 4000 Ukrainian refugees – our best response ever to a refugee crisis.

Here is what Immigration Minister Kris Fa’afoi had to say:

“This is the largest special visa category we have established in decades to support an international humanitarian effort and, alongside the additional $4 million in humanitarian funding also announced today, it adds to a number of measures we’ve already implemented to respond to the worsening situation in Ukraine.”

But why isn’t the same approach taken in other conflicts? After all there are 82 million refugees around the world.

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Racism rules. 

Last year we accepted just 463 refugees from overseas under our 1500 annual quota. I’m sure the government will blame covid but this was the third year in a row we failed to reach the quota.  

And right now we are refusing to support some of the Afghans who gave our troops support of all kinds during our 20-year military role in the foreign occupation of Afghanistan.


Racism again. 

Earlier this year the Indonesian government abruptly cancelled the study visas of 43 West Papuan students studying in this country and said they must return home. (For those unaware, Indonesia has run a brutal military occupation of West Papua since 1962 to facilitate the logging of its forests and exploitation of its mineral wealth by the likes of Rio Tinto”) 

The government should be extending visas and providing support to these students to remain here but no sign of any support so far despite these people being our local neighbours in the Pacific.

Wherever we look racism rules in immigration and our responses to war and oppression. Despite having a Pasifika Minister of Immigration and an indigenous Minister of Foreign Affairs there is not the slightest hint of any change.

Blue eyes: Yes, we can help. Brown eyes: Sorry we’re full.


  1. A big part of it @John, as you probably already know is that politicians, particularly Labour politicians are in the thrall of senior neoliberally trained ‘officials’.
    It doesn’t JUST extend to refugees either but to immigration policy in general.
    When you couple that with a captive politician overlord with procrastinating rhythm and an inability to see the bleeding bloody obvious, the outcome was never going to be transformational or kind, or benefit little ‘ole NuZull that punches above its weight, let alone the refugee.
    It’s “best practice” doncha know (because it’s unimaginative policy often copied from other members of the Empire)

    • ‘Thrall’, you remember the good words along with the good understandings. I think we middle agers carry the wisdom that fights the neoliberal. Not me, but if our assault fails that will be a pivotal failure. So much of our assault is on the couch (me), half off it or within hailing distance of it — not enough fury for this moment.

      I admit most of the 35ists were egotists. But their pants were burned in their early years.

  2. As Zelensky has forbidden men between the ages of 18 and 60 to leave Ukraine, will we only be taking in women and children and elderly men ?

      • it’d be nice if we did but they’ll be first in the queue to be saved our spooks might need them to attack russia in the future…don’t think I’m being over dramatic there is precedent for it

        can’t argue with any of your individual points john BUT until be build housing and infrastructure NZ IS FULL selling them a bogus dream is just cruel.

  3. And with such a succinct commentary on our ingrained racism being limited to this platform and few others, our people will remain ignorant of the reality, and absolutely nothing will change. God’s won country? absolutely, so long as he’s blue-eyed and fair-haired. Roll on the new school curriculum promising to expose, warts and all, the real history of this place.

  4. Similar sentiments are being expressed in Europe right now…. But the difference is its mainly woman and child leaving Ukraine – temporarily they hope – not the young men as we have seen with other conflicts – eg Syria and not economic refugees. In NZ it is ones with family already here that can come.

  5. Interesting see that Ukrainian refugees are 99% women, children and the elderly. Quite different to the demographics of middles eastern *cough* refugees

    • Yes Syria by all intends and purposes is not a war zone. Just the local book squad got carried away and tried to level the whole country. Your a joke.

  6. This is about zoos and international children’s charities. They are dubious but they ‘present’ the issues. ‘Child poverty’ has allowed us to address poverty. You are quite right, the hypocrisy. After the Ukrainian assault we, if I’m anything to go by, are more virilent for democracy and want war to be banned. It feeds the unity to deal with our 30s level problems.

  7. The 4000 are able to get a two year work visa and have their children in schools – they must have relatives here.

    I doubt there will get to 4000 even when the fighting stops and the men are allowed to join the women a nd children.

  8. this article made me “roll my eyes”.

    The OP is acting as if Eastern Europeans are some sort of pampered minority in England & it’s former colonies.

    When in fact, some (not all, I met many wonderful kiwis) Brits. and White kiwis still consider us “oggs” who falsely see ourselves as being the same race as North-Western Europe. Or alternatively, they see us as backward or culturally inferior to the Anglo-Saxon race.

    Interestingly enough, my worst experiences were with some of the NZ Chinese and Indian minorities. While they constantly remind us that we are given unfair advantage over them due to our skin color, secretly they see us as inferior to both their own and to the Anglo culture.’

    Please, OP, get out of your bubble and do interact with migrants, to understand Their experiences. And stop using us and pitting us against each other, to score colonial woke points.


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