Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Diverse Auckland: are we there yet?

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  • Chris Waugh, in reply to jh,

    it depends on your definition of racism ?

    No. Just the usual dictionary definition.

    And what of the effects on the culture of New Zealand’s working classes of mass migration. How many people these days have hens or grow their own vegetables?

    How is that even remotely relevant? Are you seriously trying to suggest that it's Asian immigration that stopped people raising hens or growing veges? There couldn't possibly be any other explanations for that?

    The Maori case is used (wrongly) to justify a further colonisation of Pakeha: “you did it to them so it is only fair that it is done to you”

    Really? First time I ever read anything like that. And it's utter nonsense. You can't claim to be being colonised when you continue to hold all the power and privilege in society and your so-called colonisers are held on the outer.

    First you could convince me why population increase is good policy and then why I should welcome people with a different culture and language, rather than people who will integrate faster and speak the same language.

    Oh, of course. No need for you to put up a coherent argument to support your point of view. Alright, on the negative side: Because refusing to welcome people just because they are somehow Different or Other is petty and narrow-minded and only serves to perpetuate conflict. On the more positive side, there's the variety alluded to in the comments on restaurants upthread, but of course, it's more than just food - there's extra variety in terms of festivals, lifestyles, religions and philosophies, and many other aspects of life. Variety is good because no one culture has a monopoly on truth, and exposure to many different ideas allows us the opportunity to compare and mix and match. And this comparing and mixing and matching has been going on throughout history - it would seem to me that ideas of a fixed Us and unchanging, monolithic Them didn't really rise until the 19th century. Sure, tribalism has been around so long as there's been mammals, but historically people have been as good at trade as at war, and it seems to me that the 19th century rise of Romanticism, thence Nationalism, thence..... is what a lot of this opposition to immigration and multiculturalism stems from.

    You mentioned Dutch. Dutch is a separate language from English. Closely related, sure, but if you're really going to go down the "integrate faster and speak the same language" route, you're going to have to sweep an awful lot of European migrants under the carpet.

    “For migrants from China, issues of access to a vibrant Chinese community were very important."

    Funny, because expats here in Beijing, including (perhaps especially?) East Asians like Koreans and Japanese, do exactly the same thing. In fact, I have even heard two white New Zealanders boast (yes, boast) about how many years they've lived in China without learning any Chinese beyond what they need to get between home, work, and the expat hangouts and buy beer and cigarettes. But tell me, please, why should people attempt to integrate when they are subject to racist vitriol simply because of the colour of their skin? The Asian immigration debate is especially ludicrous in NZ considering the first Chinese arrived in NZ long before my ancestors, yet I can walk down any street in NZ without anyone questioning my place in NZ society, and yet Chinese-looking people are asked how long they've been in NZ simply because of the way they look, even if they were born in NZ and speak only NZ English.

    that sounds like a straw man argument

    No, that's a real life argument. I've heard that myself more than once. Worse, I think, is racists trying to justify their racism by saying "Oh, but everybody's at least a little bit racist". Again, not a strawman but something real people actually say. If you want to present a reasonable objection then please, by all means, do. So far you have not.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Apart from that I really can’t see what you’re getting at.

    I think I can see it. Essentially, the question of whether more diversity is a good thing is not settled according to JH. He's asking why it's good. Good for whom? Good for what purpose? Good in itself, perhaps?

    I can't see how any progress could even be made on such a debate until the more basic question of what diversity even actually means is strongly qualified, rather than anecdotally characterized.

    A measure of diversity could be the diversity index, although it seems more applicable to biology. Essentially:

    A diversity index is a quantitative measure that reflects how many different types (such as species) there are in a dataset, and simultaneously takes into account how evenly the basic entities (such as individuals) are distributed among those types. The value of a diversity index increases both when the number of types increases and when evenness increases. For a given number of types, the value of a diversity index is maximized when all types are equally abundant.

    Obviously there are a lot of practical issues that come up when trying to actually quantify diversity for race and culture in this way. You have to fix on the way that the types are enumerated to make comparisons between populations.

    But even if you can actually achieve that, and make statements which are not just anecdata, the question of what diversity itself achieves, why it is desirable, is not settled.

    It might seem like an easy thing to say that diverse population is more resilient, survives better. But unfortunately that's not necessarily true. If the environment is highly stable, the opposite scenario is very likely, certain types will almost certain dominate very rapidly, whenever they gain a survival advantage. The vast majority of large deviation from the population will die off immediately, never even survive one generation. Most adaption, when a population is well adapted, is detrimental.

    But I doubt that mere survival is what most people arguing for higher cultural diversity are talking about. I think they would feel that it's a good unto itself.

    This, however, is not self-evident. Certainly quite a lot of a population, especially if it's in a particularly sweet spot, is likely to be against it out of pure self preservation. However liberal we may believe ourselves to be, very few people in NZ, for example, would think that a completely open door immigration policy would be a good idea. They believe, and it's not totally irrational, that such an idea would almost instantly drive NZ to become the least desirable place to be on the planet, simply by virtue of anyone living somewhere less desirable already instantly choosing to switch in. It would become a gigantic refugee camp immediately, in this view.

    It would, however, most likely become considerably more diverse.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    It might seem like an easy thing to say that diverse population is more resilient, survives better. But unfortunately that's not necessarily true. If the environment is highly stable, the opposite scenario is very likely, certain types will almost certain dominate very rapidly, whenever they gain a survival advantage.

    However, our world is not 'highly stable'. And there's no zero-sum Darwinian thing going on either.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    the question of whether more diversity is a good thing

    is fair enough. Seeing more heat than light here though.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    However, our world is not ‘highly stable’. And there’s no zero-sum Darwinian thing going on either.

    It's changing, certainly, but it's not totally chaotic. As organisms, we're more alike than we're different - it's a quantum leap to even the nearest species, and the range of species is huge. Even then, the range of conditions they can survive in is so narrow that we have not discovered a single other planet out of the thousands found since the 90s upon which even that enormous range of organisms could survive. Out of the possible range of social orders, we select a very narrow band, for the bulk of the population. We may see that range as vast, but it is a tiny, tiny fraction of the possibilities, much the way that the visible spectrum of light seems diverse to us, but is a tiny fraction of all electromagnetic radiation.

    Say we were to categorize the possible social orders by governmental system. How many people would be disappointed by the eradication of any slave oriented societies? Even though that would mean a loss of diversity. Any number of things that we would struggle immensely to find acceptable are possible. The same goes culturally - there are many cultural practices we condemn. That diversity is seen as undesirable. Indeed, when it comes down to it, anyone that believes in a strong society of any kind at all actually prefers that we are more in agreement with each other than disagreement, and we enforce our rules to that effect all the time. Criminal behaviour is not tolerated, and many things are considered criminal that are very much in dispute by large subcultures.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Apart from that I really can’t see what you’re getting at.

    I think I can see it. Essentially, the question of whether more diversity is a good thing is not settled according to JH. He’s asking why it’s good. Good for whom? Good for what purpose? Good in itself, perhaps?

    I meant blaming immigrants for the fact that people supposedly don't grow veges or keep chooks any more. Not seeing the connection at all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • jh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    There were many things about his age that bothered Dickens, from the class system to the power of the church. But London in particular has long reflected the world. It has had succession of prevailing cultures, a Jewish population for nearly 1000 years, etc.

    My point was that Dicken's novel's reflect the diversity of characters within the English population.
    Multicultural policies[116] were adopted by local administrations from the 1970s and 1980s onwards. In 1997 the New Labour government committed to a multiculturalist approach at a national level,[ Wikipedia

    And what of the effects on the culture of New Zealand’s working classes of mass migration. How many people these days have hens or grow their own vegetables?

    <p>My elderly Chinese immigrant neighbours do both, and very well. Apart from that I really can’t see what you’re getting at.</p>

    80% of population growth over the last 20 years has come from offshore. NZ used to be the Quarter Acre Half Gallon Pavlova Paradise. Location determines the value of land (around jobs and infrastructure). Population pressures have reduced the size of sections. Kind of obvious?

    Since May 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I meant blaming immigrants for the fact that people supposedly don’t grow veges or keep chooks any more. Not seeing the connection at all.

    Yes, that's a strange observation - urban intensification does contribute to less growing of one's own crops, but I wouldn't say immigrants lead the charge on that, except in so far as they are more likely to live on smaller plots closer to the city. If that is true.

    But a bigger contributor would seem to be rising incomes. Subsistence farming is more likely to be a lifestyle choice than a function of poverty these days.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to jh,

    80% of population growth over the last 20 years has come from offshore. NZ used to be the Quarter Acre Half Gallon Pavlova Paradise. Location determines the value of land (around jobs and infrastructure). Population pressures have reduced the size of sections. Kind of obvious?

    No, it’s not obvious at all. Because your figure is false.

    From the Department of Statistics’ “mythbusters” section:

    This myth is busted.

    New Zealand’s net migration balance continues to be volatile. In recent decades, it has ranged from a peak net gain of 43,000 permanent and long-term migrants (in 2003) to a net loss of 44,000 (in 1979). Periods of sustained net migration gains have been interspersed with periods when more people left New Zealand than arrived.

    In contrast, New Zealand’s natural increase has remained between 25,000 and 35,000 for most years since 1973. So, while net migration usually contributes to New Zealand’s population growth, the main contribution in most years is from natural increase. Since 1970, natural increase has contributed about four-fifths of New Zealand’s population growth, and net migration the remaining one-fifth.

    It’s also a nonsense given that the large majority of people even in Auckland, where most immigration is concentrated, continue to live in in low-rise suburban housing – the large majority of which was not built in the past 20 years. The idea that we’ve suddenly stopped gardening and keeping chickens because sections have shrunk is demonstrably wrong. Apart from anything else, home vegetable gardens have been on the rise in recent years.

    Also, the forecast increase of one million in Auckland’s population in the next 30 years is predicted to be largely composed of natural increase and internal migration. Not immigration.

    I get that you don’t like immigration or multiculturalism, but it’s starting to seem that you’re looking for rationalisations for that view.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    But a bigger contributor would seem to be rising incomes. Subsistence farming is more likely to be a lifestyle choice than a function of poverty these days.

    Garden centres had a boom when the GCC hit around 2008.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • jh, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    The Maori case is used (wrongly) to justify a further colonisation of Pakeha: “you did it to them so it is only fair that it is done to you”
    Really? First time I ever read anything like that.

    The words "second colonisation" were used in the documentary The Last Resort (by a Maori) if I remember rightly. In that case it was the globalisation of the property market (going hand in hand with an open door immigration policy).
    The Maori were colonised - Maori were here first is often brought up to delegitimise compaints about mass migration.

    . And it’s utter nonsense. You can’t claim to be being colonised when you continue to hold all the power and privilege in society and your so-called colonisers are held on the outer

    Kiwis are being excluded from the property market by the high cost of real estate.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/4622459/Government-policies-blamed-for-house-prices

    Funny, because expats here in Beijing, including (perhaps especially?) East Asians like Koreans and Japanese, do exactly the same thing. In fact, I have even heard two white New Zealanders boast (yes, boast) about how many years they’ve lived in China without learning any Chinese beyond what they need to get between home, work, and the expat hangouts and buy beer and cigarettes. But tell me, please, why should people attempt to integrate when they are subject to racist vitriol simply because of the colour of their skin? The Asian immigration debate is especially ludicrous in NZ considering the first Chinese arrived in NZ long before my ancestors, yet I can walk down any street in NZ without anyone questioning my place in NZ society, and yet Chinese-looking people are asked how long they’ve been in NZ simply because of the way they look, even if they were born in NZ and speak only NZ English.

    So the expats will be a majority in a few years?

    I’ve heard that myself more than once. Worse, I think, is racists trying to justify their racism by saying “Oh, but everybody’s at least a little bit racist”. Again, not a strawman but something real people actually say. If you want to present a reasonable objection then please, by all means, do. So far you have not.

    You don't like evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychologists say:

    humans were not designed to slip effortlessly in to a multicultural world. Our psychology has been shaped by millions of years of monocultural living in small relatively homogenous groups.

    We’re built to absorb our proximate culture at a young age and, in doing so, our identity and values galvanise. We then become less malleable, and we seek out others who share our values and cultural identity. This doesn’t mean we’re closed to new ideas, but there’s a tremendous inertia in shifting our more fundamental values once they’re established.

    this creates a little bit of mischief for the left who mock "I'm not racist but..."
    We absorb people into our group but dumping a whole population and foreign culture on us is a bit much. I'm talking about mass migration for the purpose of bringing cashed up property purchasers (on the right) and to achieve a multiculturalism (on the left).

    Since May 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to jh,

    what cultural differences do you think existing Kiwis might have trouble accepting from more recent migrants?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • jh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    No, it’s not obvious at all. Because your figure is false.

    That figure came from here:
    80% of our population growth in the last couple of decades has been the net inflow of non NZ citizens .
    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/downloads/pdfs/mi-jarrett-comm.pdf

    It’s also a nonsense given that the large majority of people even in Auckland, where most immigration is concentrated, continue to live in in low-rise suburban housing – the large majority of which was not built in the past 20 years. The idea that we’ve suddenly stopped gardening and keeping chickens because sections have shrunk is demonstrably wrong.

    What about the number of infill houses and the size of gardens?

    Apart from anything else, home vegetable gardens have been on the rise in recent years.

    In 2007 when the financial crisis started there was a run on macrocarpa sleepers.

    Also, the forecast increase of one million in Auckland’s population in the next 30 years is predicted to be largely composed of natural increase and internal migration. Not immigration.

    Really?
    The BNZ Chief Economist's view on the Auckland House Prices

    3. The government is explicitly aiming to grow Auckland’s population as a means of achieving “agglomeration” benefits for economic growth which accrue from high interaction amongst economic players.

    http://www.davidwhitburn.com/blogs/auckland-house-prices-to-rise-over-10-in-2013/
    Auckland’s main ethnic groups 2006
    European and Other 60%
    Asian 17%
    Pacific Peoples 13%
    Maori 10%
    Source: Statistics New Zealand

    Auckland’s main ethnic groups 2021 (projections)
    European and Other 48%
    Asian 25%
    Pacific Peoples 16%
    Maori 11%
    Note: These are based on individual
    group projections so percentages will not necessarily add to 100 or relate to the
    projected total population.
    Source: Statistics New Zealand

    Since May 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to jh,

    Auckland’s main ethnic groups 2021 (projections)
    European and Other 48%
    Asian 25%

    So Asians are in no greater a danger of becoming a majority in Auckland than any kind of expat in Beijing in the next few years.

    Kiwis are being excluded from the property market by the high cost of real estate.

    And while I've read some people blaming that on immigration, and others on the Chinese, both immigrants and those who then disappear back to China, I've also read plenty saying that the reality is rather more complex and the role played by immigration or the Chinese is really quite small. The tone of the comments suggests that it isn't really immigration driving up house prices.

    You don’t like evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychologists say:

    For good reason. Got a cite for that quotation? Because it looks like another good reason for me to be wary of evolutionary psychology. If humans really evolved in small, monocultural bands constantly at war with each other because Other, then please explain the huge amount of exchange between cultures throughout history. How did Christianity enter Europe, or Buddhism China? Why did paper, silk, tea, rice, gunpowder and the compass spread out of China if these small, monocultural bands were so set in their ways they could only fight each other? Likewise, how could railways have entered China? Cixi was very much against them at first, but even that arch-conservative with a hefty xenophobic streak was sold on their benefits. Sure, people learn a set of values early on in life and do like to hang out with others who share those values, but I would argue that precious few people become so rigidly fixed into one value system they can't cope with others with different values.

    but dumping a whole population and foreign culture on us is a bit much.

    Eh? Really? It's all being done by force? Last time I was in NZ everybody was going about their lives as they saw fit.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to jh,

    What about the number of infill houses and the size of gardens?

    Infill has been has been driven by baby-boomers, often in suburbs where existing Pacific immigrant populations have been displaced. You don't see a lot of it in Howick.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to jh,

    Really?

    Yes, really:

    To a great extent, future Aucklanders will come from current Aucklanders – our kids, their kids and their kids. About 60 per cent of Auckland’s future population growth will come from births in our current population. Consider this: one-third of all children that live in New Zealand, live in Auckland. In addition, people aged under 25 make up 40 per cent of Auckland’s population. That’s a lot of young people in our city. Many of these will go on to have kids of their own, contributing to Auckland’s growth.

    The other 40 per cent of Auckland’s projected population growth will come from other parts of New Zealand and from overseas immigration. Total immigration numbers for all of New Zealand are set by central government, and a large number of immigrants will choose to settle in Auckland due to the availability of services, cultural activities, jobs and business opportunities.

    Furthermore, the group you seem to be most worried about -- Auckland's Asian population -- actually has a lower birth rate than the Pasifika, European or Maori communities.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to jh,

    That figure came from here:
    80% of our population growth in the last couple of decades has been the net inflow of non NZ citizens .

    Okay, fair enough, true for that period, but a little misleading. Those numbers are strongly influenced by years like 2002, with a net inflow of 38,000 – which was driven by high outbound migration and a boom in the export education market (students studying for longer than a year are counted as PLT arrivals). But three years later the net migration increase had fallen to only 7000. In most years, natural increase accounts for a majority of population growth.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    because Other

    damn efficient 'reasoning'

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Furthermore, the group you seem to be most worried about -- Auckland's Asian population -- actually has a lower birth rate than the Pasifika, European or Maori communities.

    And to add, much of Auckland's growth can also be attributable to head office drift and provincial youth moving to the big smoke.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • jh, in reply to jh,

    humans were not designed to slip effortlessly in to a multicultural world. Our psychology has been shaped by millions of years of monocultural living in small relatively homogenous groups.

    That quote comes from here:
    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/44170.html

    Since May 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • jh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Okay, fair enough, true for that period, but a little misleading.

    I wouldn’t call a 20 year period misleading? The stat's myth buster seems like misinformation (deliberate)?
    and I don't like this either:
    Productivity Commision:
    We recommend that you:
    a agree to the inquiry selection process set out in Appendix 1
    Agree/disagree
    b agree that Commission’s second tranche of inquiries be selected on the degree that
    they:
    • are relatively uncontroversial given the desire to establish broad political support for the Commission

    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/informationreleases/productivitycommission/pdfs/t2011-2000.pdf

    is that reasonable? Would you have an investigation into co2 and climate change on similar terms (or public health)?

    Since May 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • alobar, in reply to jh,

    I think this is less misleading :
    (from http://www.dol.govt.nz/publications/research/migration-trends-1011/03.asp)

    "3.2 Impact of migration on population growth

    New Zealand’s estimated resident population at 30 June 2011[14] was 4,405,300, which is an increase of 37,500 (0.9 percent) from the 30 June 2010 estimate of 4,367,800. Population growth in the year to 2010/11 was due to a natural increase (that is, more births than deaths) of 33,600 (90 percent) plus net permanent and long-term migration of 3,900 (10 percent). In 2010/11, natural increase accounted for 90 percent of population growth, higher than the historical average of 80 percent over the last 40 years. Figure 3.1 shows that the natural increase is constant over time, but the fluctuations in the annual population change follow the movements in net migration."

    auckland • Since Apr 2010 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • jh,

    "Monocultural" Christchurch Two Views:
    One thing he is clear about is that the demographic changes set to occur in Christchurch could transform the city infamous for its white supremacist National Front movement. While Christchurch does have small ethnic enclaves, hosting lantern festivals for Chinese New Year and Diwali festivals for the Indian community, the scale of the anticipated migrant influx is unparalleled in its history.
    http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/news/article.cfm?mnarticle_uuid=86EB3C7F-B375-B8DF-A111-53B3788C75E5

    Bold young men drove sheep on to the vast grazing runs to found pastoral empires and land owning dynasties. Out of the wealth from the squatters’ wool clips, and from wheat when the tussock was ploughed, grew a city of scholarship, grace and dignity” Professor Kenneth Cumberland Landmarks

    So Christchurch is better for it's Asian Restaurants (and deregulation) and we have a sizable Asian community, but you can see the problems of population growth as you look at places like Mt Pleasant and the sprawling subdivisions.
    Once you could say what a places job was ("a distribution centre for the farmland on the Canterbury Plain") now it is "ideas" and "growth is good" (people get new and bigger facilities), however, the gardens get smaller, the villas are bowled and boxes go up. Take out the sugar rush of immigration ( lobbying by a hungry construction sector) and what is left?
    If the world was a level playing field and there wasn't a j shaped curve in world population with gross imbalances, I wouldn't be worried about immigration.

    Since May 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • jh, in reply to alobar,

    I think this is less misleading

    That's called cherry picking. It's like judging rainfall on one month.
    Another issue is that we can't do much about natural increase but we can about immigration. National, Labour and the Greens are pro immigration (as far as I can tell) and I believe we have a media bias in favour of immigration (the BBC has admitted bias).
    http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/jul/03/bbc-deep-liberal-bias-immigration
    A small % increase each year translates to a giant future amount.

    I note the Department of Labour sites research that finds no evidence that migration effects house prices (whereas returning Kiwis do) despite strong correlations and international evidence to the contrary. Could there be an institutional bias? You would hope not.

    Since May 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • alobar, in reply to jh,

    cherry picking ? did you see the bit about the last 40 years ?
    " natural increase accounted for 90 percent of population growth, higher than the historical average of 80 percent over the last 40 years."

    auckland • Since Apr 2010 • 63 posts Report Reply

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