Migrant Communities Want Change
Taking a community perspective to address migrant issues - Media Release from UHMCC
30 March 2016
The recent events involving members of the more recent migrant communities in Auckland have been a troubling trend in New Zealand’s current affairs: These include the report released condemning the police force’s treatment of African youths, the Indian liquor store owner stabbed in Manurewa and the Thai woman who escaped the boot of a moving car, bound and seriously injured. There is a lot of concern among ethnic communities about their safety and fair treatment, and this is understandable. This tension, however, is not being channelled in the right direction. What manifests as direct, physical or social acts of violence are in fact often cultivated by frustrations that rise from difficult living and working conditions.
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand. It has, almost one third of our overall population, and is home to over 200 different ethnic groups. It is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, and New Zealand’s first super city. Over the past decade Auckland has seen some significant increases to its urban and economic development, as well as its social stratification. It is seen as the epicentre of the nation’s business and job market, and attracts thousands of jobseekers ever year as they look for work – nearly 40% of whom are immigrants. It is well known that the city’s living capacity is becoming saturated, which not only drives the house market up to an immense level of competition, it also creates a highly competitive and changeable job market.
These are proven conditions that contribute to high rates of crime, poverty and desperation. The housing market forces people into difficult and somewhat complex social and community cohesions. The changing tides of the job market deny people the security of a stable income. The current welfare system follows a model that pushes individuals to accept complete responsibility for their position, which marks a shift from interdependence to independence. For many migrants who have just settled in, have yet to familiarise themselves with this system social welfare that can be very overwhelming. In most instances this leads to people who end up taking their own position, their struggles, and put it on their own shoulders when they shouldn’t need to, and that tension gets redirected at those around them.
The answer, in our view, is not found in lashing out at government agencies and support services, and in passing on the blame. It is unreasonable and undeserving, and it is difficult for those who end up targeted to respond in a way that will actually solve their own or the social problem.
The Upper Hutt Multicultural Council:
1. Believes that, although the issues in Auckland concerns every New Zealander, it does not necessarily mean that problems in Auckland are reflective of what happens in other regions in New Zealand where settlement outcomes are notably better
2. Notes that a key contributing factor to the growing problems faced by Auckland generally is possibly due to the government’s weak regional investments, which have been an important factor in creating the living conditions of the city today.
3. Urges the New Zealand government to review its economic development and immigration strategies. It is imperative that lenses such as community safety, safety for women and children, and the nation’s ability to foster interculturally connected communities are used in developing long term strategies.
4. Notes that the messages Immigration New Zealand gives to potential migrants overseas could better inform and prepare them for the realities of living in New Zealand
Our message to new migrants who have concerns for their their safety, the way they are treated or the support they should be receiving, is to explore more of New Zealand and what the regions have to offer.
“If you do not like it,” says one UHMCC member “Why not come to Upper Hutt?” As a region the Hutt Valley also boasts a happily diverse population with safer, more integrated neighbourhoods. The job opportunities are more viable, as is the housing market. The ethnic communities have great, motivated relationships with the local and central government agencies and local Iwi, great schools and community facilities. The Multicultural Council extends a warm invite to everyone to come and live in Upper Hutt, with the promise of helping them settle safely into the community.
Upper Hutt Multicultural Council