Immigration causes tension for Maori

Auckland University academic Margaret Mutu has caused controversy by saying there should be a cap on white migrants coming to New Zealand, something Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley says highlights ongoing tension around immigration and Maori.

Ms Mutu said migrants from countries including South Africa and England bring “an attitude of white supremacy” into the country and are swamping Maori.  

She made the comments in response to a report saying Maori are threatened by white migrants, and critics are calling for her to be dismissed as a result.

Mr Spoonley says Ms Mutu has in the past been “very welcoming and very tolerant of diversity and multiculturalism” and he’d like to hear her views in more detail, but the report has put immigration under the spotlight.

“The tension around immigration and Maori has been building for some time,” he says, and Massey University polling data dating back to 2000 has shown that most New Zealanders are feeling more relaxed about immigration – with the exception of Maori.

Mr Spoonley says there are two main reasons behind the counter-trend – the concern that multiculturalism could displace biculturalism, heavily invested in in the 1980s and 1990s, and the labour market.

“It’s a tough labour market out there, so if you’re bringing in immigrants, what happens to Maori?”

Mr Spoonley says skilled migrants aren’t displacing Maori from jobs “because they occupy different parts of the labour market”, but it remains an issue.

Ms Mutu is “a little bit out on a limb” in targeting white migrants, he says, as polling has shown that Asians are perceived as more of an issue by Maori.

He says tension around immigration could be eased by bringing in consultation with Maori on the immigration process, and by educating new arrivals to New Zealand about national culture.

“I think Margaret is making an important point… if people come here from around the world, then they need to understand who we are and how we operate,” he says.

“One of the questions we asked [in polling] was whether or not Maori and other New Zealanders felt that they were consulted adequately about immigration, and a majority of New Zealanders don’t feel that they were consulted adequately, but Maori particularly,” he says.

“There’s got to be some role for Maori in terms of immigration policy in New Zealand.”

Watch the video for the full interview

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source: newshub archive