Red Alert

Archive for the ‘ethnic’ Category

Peoples : How would bring Maori & Pakeha into a multi-ethnic future? Labour Leadership Q&A #5

Posted by on September 11th, 2013

14 Questions for 2014

Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 5

Peoples : How would bring Maori & Pakeha into a multi-ethnic future?

Explanatory Note: From September 10th to 14th 2013 as part of the official selection process for a new leader the New Zealand Labour Party is holding a “Virtual Hustings Meeting” hosted by Red Alert and organised by Scoop Amplifier. Over the past 7 days questions were solicited from eligible voters in the election. The questions and answers are now being posted as a set of 14 posts at the Red Alert Labour Party Blog starting yesterday (Tuesday 10th September), till Friday 13th September. All-comers are welcome to discuss the answers in the comment section of the blog. The candidates are expected to participate in these discussions at times over the five days till Saturday 14th September.


Question : How are you going to blend the two main traditions we have in New Zealand, Maori and Pakeha, to provide the basic identity profile with which we can go forward into a multi-ethnic future?

Submitted by : Ian Free, Auckland



Answer from David Cunliffe

A Labour Government that I lead would honour the Treaty of Waitangi and invest in that proud diverse future.

I will commit to a regular series of iwi forums across the country, to develop lasting partnerships with all major iwi. I want to demonstrate that Labour is committed to the treaty partnership and it is part of how we work together.

We would encourage the arts across the board, and invest in further building our unique, strong national identity. But most of all, I have a deep and unswerving commitment to honour the diversity of all our communities and all our people.

As a West Auckland MP, with almost 40% of my constituents not born in NZ, I also know the value of an inclusive multiculturalism built on our bicultural foundations.

Both are built on the same principles that are fundamental to Labour – that every New Zealander is of the same moral value – and that every Kiwi kid deserves a good start so they can make the best of their lives.
Labour needs to deepen its alliances with our ethnic communities. Labour’s policy of a creating a Ministry of Ethnic Affairs with new powers and responsibilities will help to achieve this. Their struggle for a fair chance in New Zealand is part of our broader struggle for a fairer, more decent New Zealand that celebrates diversity.


Answer from Shane Jones

As our leader I am totally confident that I can offer a unifying influence given my ancestry, education and communication.

Identity is not static. It is imperative however we not cast ourselves adrift from the bi-cultural narrative inherent in the Treaty of Waitangi.

The creative sector and our curriculum should encourage the blending of Maori culture into our broader civic culture.


Answer from Grant Robertson

I think the word ‘blend’ in the question comes from the wrong starting point.

For me, using the Treaty of Waitangi as the base as our founding document we can create a strong foundation.

I support New Zealand becoming a republic, but it must be done acknowledging the Treaty. I also support the teaching of Te Reo Maori in all schools as a way of strengthening our culture.

What we must do is support the celebration of the many cultures in New Zealand, including through language and culture weeks, teaching of language in schools.

Our rich diversity provides a terrific platform to build our nation for the 21st century.


Cartoons irresponsible and racist

Posted by on May 31st, 2013

 I believe the two cartoons in the Christchurch Press and the Marlborough Express were a clumsy and objectionable attempt to draw attention and raise debate about an important issue.  The approach taken is indefensible and potentially damaging.

 The cartoon depicts two stereotypes.  The first is that those who access food in schools have the financial resources to feed their children but would rather spend the money on gambling, smoking, booze and a lavish life style.  While there may be some people who fall in this category there are many who don’t and who just simply can’t make ends meet either on a low income or on a benefit.  These depictions refuse to accept that. The second is that most of those who fall in this category are brown, overweight and irresponsible.

 Like all stereotypes the depictions malign those parents who access food in schools most of whom the cartoons depict as Māori and Pacific Islanders.  Therefore they are offensive.  The defence that the cartoons depict people of different ethnic background is just plain unbelievable.  The figures are overwhelmingly brown and overweight, gamble, smoke, drink and have a flash lifestyle.

 If the cartoonist’s message was that in New Zealand everyone should be able to feed their children because we are a welfare state, he failed miserably in getting that across.  Rather the cartoons accidentally or deliberately discount the fact that for whatever reason a good number of children live in poverty and they come to school hungry and in no position to take advantage of the education offered.  Any perspective that had an understanding of the needs of children would not depict the programme to feed our hungry children in this way. 

 The alternative surely can’t be to let the children go hungry or take them away from their parents?  Neither option is realistic and shows little appreciation of the real financial pressures on many families who are not in work or who are in poorly paid jobs.

 The second stereotype is even more troubling.  Some would say it incites racial disharmony.  It certainly does not assist positive race relations.  If the cartoons had asked people to take negative action on the parents, who it believes are brown, it would have breached the Human Rights Act for inciting racial disharmony.  As such it would have led to the commencement of the process of mediation and even eventual prosecution.  I accept that it does not reach that threshold.

 The cartoonist does have a responsibility to present issues fairly.  Satire is fine but there is a fine line.  There are many complex issues behind child poverty.  The cartoons should also show an appreciation of the impact of the depictions on minority ethnic groups.  Instead they trivialise these two issues and as such the two papers ought to print a retraction.  The Race Relations Commissioner should also take a much stronger line to discredit this approach and to caution cartonists who periodically stay into this style.

 Dr Rajen Prasad MP



Goodbye Chief

Posted by on May 4th, 2013

As a humble Kiwi Chinese, I initially felt I was not senior enough to write this kind of article to remember the Hon Parekura Horomia, our matua. But I am privileged enough to remember him as a mentor and a friend who had played a brief but important role in my entering into politics and becoming a member of the Labour whanau.

One evening in the early 2008, I was invited to Parliament’s celebration of Chinese New Year. My job was to translate for Prime Minister Helen Clark. The Labour-led Government initiated the celebration in Parliament and this has so far become an annual event. My other mission was to get my nomination form completed.

The form was almost filled out one year earlier in 2007 where I was nominated as a list candidate for the 2008 general election. Being Labour’s first Chinese-born candidate (who’s from the mainland China), this was far more than a normal nomination form. I had the minister for ethnic affairs as my “proposer” and the Prime Minister and four other senior ministers as “seconder”: For any first-time nominee, those big names meant a lot!

Could not remember whose idea it was but my supporters and I felt so strongly that we wanted to get this form completed in the presence of our matua. We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to settle and live in New Zealand and we are deeply grateful to the Tangata whenua.

So immediately after the celebration I rushed to the Executive Wing. I rushed through the endless doors in Beehive trying to get hold of Parekura, the Minister for Maori Affairs. I nearly gave up because I must leave then to catch the last flight back to Auckland. All of sudden and out of nowhere, here came the giant Parekura! He barely knew me at that time but I must have presented myself well in the short space of one of two minutes. He laughed and spoke in his iconic humorous tone: “Ohkey boy, I’ll sign it for you”.

I subsequently sought permission from the General Secretary Mike Smith to keep the original form and submitted instead a certified copy. I cherished the nomination form then and will cherish it more now.

For a humble Chinese person who made New Zealand home, to have someone like Parekura witness my nomination form was more than being symbolic. We are deeply grateful to the Tangata whenua and Parekura was and will forever be our matua.

Since I’ve become an MP, we bumped into each other in the long corridors in Parliament from time to time. Each time he greeted me with a friendly “chief”. He even regarded me as one of his “browny bros” and supported me.

He’s our true chief. His wisdom, passion and humour are a guiding light for me and for us. 


Filed under: asian, ethnic, Labour Party
Comments Off on Goodbye Chief

Hands-off Government let export education drift

Posted by on March 19th, 2013

Lincoln Tan of the New Zealand Herald reports

A Ministry of Education report to be released this week is expected to show a 6 per cent drop in overall fee-paying student enrolment. The annual Migration Trends and Outlook, released last Friday, reported a 7 per cent drop in international student approvals to 68,980 – the lowest since 2008.

Of course it does not look good because the Government has been hands-off. It just let the sector grow when time is right or deteriorate when it is not, like the situations we are in now. No coordinated marketing, no leadership, no policy to give quality providers a boost and bad apples a boo.

The Labour list MP has a private member’s bill in the ballot that is seeking to tighten rules about small private schools having international or national titles in their business names.

The Bill has already generated some attention. For those who have not seen much of the Bill, here is the Q&A, which is self-explanatory.

 Education (Naming of Private Training Establishments) Amendment Bill Q & A

 1. Q: What is the purpose of this Bill?

 A: This Bill will stop misleading naming of PTEs and provide a boost to the image of the Export Education industry by ensuring that private training establishments (PTEs) are profiled correctly and accurately. The Bill will be one of the measures that are designed to promote NZ education providers collectively in the international market.

Currently there is minimal (and patched-up) regulation for the naming rights of PTEs which is causing great harm to our Export Education market in Asia and around the world. Many countries (particularly in Asia) have strict guidelines which reserve international, national or regional titles to reputable education providers whose names match their international, national or regional status. Therefore PTEs which boast regional or national titles in their names are attractive to Asian students and their families. However, a number of PTEs (although it is a relatively small number) in NZ have abused their naming rights and have created a credibility issue for the NZ Export Education system with the term ‘ghetto education’ being used in China and other countries to describe the state of the educational facilities in NZ, which is detrimental and unfair to the majority of the education providers in NZ.

This Bill will ensure that PTEs are profiled accurately and correctly and that New Zealand remains a top quality international education provider.

2. Q: Who is likely to benefit from this Bill?

A: The majority of New Zealand’s PTEs. This Bill is designed to protect them.

3. Q: Who is likely to be offended by this Bill?

A: A very small number of poor providers in the export education sector who are providing poor outcomes for students, flaunting the rules and damaging NZ’s overall reputation. The “ghetto education” – as so termed in overseas media – referred specifically to them.

4. Q: Will the Bill impose more regulation?

 A: No. This Bill seeks to help manage performance rather than impose more regulation.

 5. Q: Why this is a scaled-down version?

 A: The original Bill was drafted over a year ago and we have since undertaken consultation with the export education sector. We listened to them and have taken their advice. Generally speaking, under the current economic environment, the New Zealand export education sector needs help to compete with the UK, US, Canada and Australia who are seen as top quality international education providers.

The Bill in the current form deals with only one issue, which is the naming rights of PTEs.

The accurate and correct profiling of PTE’s will help promote the image and profile of NZ export education as a whole.

6. Q: Why does the Bill not cover border control in respect of the exemption for offshore education advisers providing advice on student visas and permits?

A: Two reasons: the loophole can easily be closed by removing the exemption by an Order in Council – this is the Government’s call and we urge the Government to seriously consider this.

Secondly, evidence shows that these issues were caused by a small number of poor providers. One of the reasons why these poor providers existed in the first place is that under the current legal regime they were allowed to profile themselves in an inaccurate (or passing off) manner and attract more international students to them than other providers who pay more attention to quality and sustainability of their establishment. Many of these poor providers are also aided by a “larger than usual” amount of commission paid to agents.

7. Q: Will this Bill impose any fiscal burden to the government?

A: No. This Bill will not cost a lot, if at all, to implement. With reliably profiled PTEs, we will attract more top-quality students to study in New Zealand. The flow-on effect will be felt throughout the country. So this Bill is good for NZ’s economy.

8. Q: Will this bill help prevent New Zealand from attracting the ‘bad’ students who tend to fall into trouble in NZ?

A: Yes. This bill will improve the level of export education in New Zealand which will have an instant flow on effect and lift the quality of international students attracted to study in New Zealand.

9. Q: What motivates you to write this Bill?

A: As Labour’s spokesperson for Export Education, my dream is to see New Zealand become a world leader in top-quality export education. As many international students do stay and become our residents after graduation it also goes deeper than just export education.

Because some of these students are our future New Zealanders – we must get it right from scratch and attract the best quality students to New Zealand.

10. Q: Isn’t it the case that no matter how good the Bill is it may not be drawn from the ballot and even if it does, it will likely be voted down?

A: True, but the Government will be forced to address the issue with more urgency.


Comments Off on Hands-off Government let export education drift

Respectful politics – time and place

Posted by on October 6th, 2012

Last night I attended the 101st anniversary of the Republic of China (Taiwan) anniversary, along with other parliamentary colleagues, Rajen Prasad, Hon Peter Dunne and National MP Jami-lee Ross. Peter Goodfellow, National Party President was there, and Paul Hutchinson attended, but had to leave early.

This was one of those occasions when we were there as invited guests to help celebrate the community’s pride in their country’s history and their place in New Zealand. When MPs attend these kind of events, we are welcomed as an important part of the celebration. As guests, our job is to respond appropriately and join in with the spirit of the occasion.

Speakers from all sides of the political spectrum spoke respectfully. There were no party politics, just an acknowledgement of the friendship and links between our countries, the contribution of the Taiwanese community in New Zealand and the celebration of their 101st special birthday.

But one person got it wrong. Colin Craig, Conservative Leader was also an invited guest.

He chose to use his speech to try to draw links between the Conservative party’s “family values” and Taiwan. For example,  (he said)  Taiwan has lower divorce rates than New Zealand.  And then he launched into a political speech about the marriage equality bill.

Maybe he thought he was onto a vote winner. But he caused embarrassment to his hosts and other guests.

And he showed appalling judgement.


Samoa Language Week 2012

Posted by on May 27th, 2012

Samoa Language Week 2012 offers the perfect opportunity to discuss the future of Samoa-New Zealand relationship given that this year we also celebrate Samoa’s 50th Anniversary of Independence on 1stof June, and the 50th anniversary of the Samoa-New Zealand Treaty of Friendship on 1st of August.

Many New Zealanders probably aren’t aware that New Zealand administered Samoa for 48 years and that period gave rise to a unique Treaty of Friendship which was signed between the two countries in recognition of a ‘special relationship’ once Samoa had become the first Pacific island nation to become independent in 1962.

On the eve of the 50th anniversary there is growing discussion within the Samoan community in New Zealand to revisit the meaning of the ‘special relationship’ between New Zealand and Samoa, and what that ‘special relationship’ means for Samoans both in New Zealand and Samoa.

The younger generation are asking questions as to which country benefits the most from the Treaty of Friendship and what, if, any are the financial implications given New Zealand’s formal apology to Samoa in 2002 that included an admission to the errors of past New Zealand Administrators which caused the deaths of thousands of Samoa.

In 1918 the New Zealand authorities administering Samoa allowed the ship Talune carrying passengers with influenza New Zealand to dock in Apia. As the flu spread, some twenty two percent of the Samoan population died. The New Zealand authorities refused the offer of assistance from the American Samoa health officials.  This tragedy is recorded as one of the worst epidemics in the world, and was preventable.

New Zealand authorities were also responsible for the deaths of at least nine Samoans, including Tupua Tamasese Lealofioaana III with fifty others injured, when armed New Zealand police fired upon a peaceful march of non-violent protesters in Apia in December 1929.

I am encouraging and supporting Lemi Ponifasio to roll out a series of MAU Forums under the theme of Samoa mo Taeao or Samoa for Tomorrow to lead these discussions about these future issues.

Migrants and Nation building

Posted by on December 5th, 2011

My “open arm welcome” endorsement for a rival candidate has met with a polite and reasoned resistance from a prominent Chinese community leader.

Steven Young, former president of NZ Chinese Association commented in his Facebook on November 3, 2011 that:

“Raymond Huo’s opened armed welcome to his new Parliamentary colleague across the house comes dangerously close to identifying the Chinese here as sojourners in residence with Confucian characteristics.”

Other commentators on Facebook went further, in reply to Mr Young’s statement, one commentator said (SIC):

“If I’d known at the time that the second marker for my Honours dissertation was pro-death penalty and anti-gay marriage, I might not have put in that image of that statue of Liberty/goddess of Democracy dominatrix licking her giant ice cream cone.”

Another commentator echoed Mr Young’s view by saying (SIC):

“These overseas chinese migrants who are getting into NZ govt seats, have no bloody idea of nzchinesefullstop, its all themselves and they have there own agenda!”

The confession from me I guess was that I did say something very positive about National candidate and now MP-elect Dr Jian Yang, who – like me – is from the mainland China.

Those relatively new Chinese migrants (who arrived in the early 2000s) made up 71% of the NZ Chinese community which are different in many ways from New Zealand’s 5th or 6th generation of Chinese settlers like Mr Young and the other two commentators.

The early Chinese settlers came to NZ under harsh conditions (consider the racially discriminatory Poll Tax legislation). But they proved to be role models in the long process of accommodation, acculturation and assimilation and eventually became successful Kiwi-Chinese.

They paved the way, in many aspects, for future arrivals including Dr Yang and myself. Sadly and inevitably, it appears to be a gap between those modern ‘sojourners’ (who “have no bloody idea of nzchinesefullstop”) and the “local Chinese” (like Mr Young and the two commentators). How to bring the two together is a question and a mission.

National’s selection of Dr Yang was a careful and reasoned one. Not only has he got the required calibre (to be fair to his Chinese competitors within National Party I won’t comment further), he also positioned himself well in serving the wider community as a conduit between Chinese and the wider community.

His sympathetic position to capital punishment and his anti-gay marriage stance (according to article by Derek Cheng in the NZ Herald, November 2, 2011) largely reflects his background and view of those newly migrated Kiwi-Chinese he represents.

It is worth pursuing whether they became National supporters because they share the same values of the party or are just following a trend but that is beyond the scope of this article. Their collective characteristics, culture and mentality are however something new, if not unknown, to this country.

We as candidates from different political spectrums disagree on many policies but do share a sense of obligation in helping Kiwi Chinese integrate.

My personal view is that it is wrong for a Chinese migrant to come to NZ but end up only sticking to “Chinatown”, literally or in a cultural sense, and only eat Chinese and read/speak Chinese and mingle with Chinese people. Why bother to come to New Zealand if it is the case?

In that sense their being a “sojourner” is not welcome here.

Regarding immigration, I agree to what DPF said on Kiwiblog (22 Nov 2011) that it “should be colour-blind. Individuals should be assessed against criteria such as education, skills, wealth and ability to settle and assimilate in New Zealand.” Ability to settle is one of the determinant factors for such assessment.

Rome was of course not built overnight. It takes time to adapt, appreciate and integrate. Therefore Dr Yang and I being ethnic MPs (should I make it this time) are working towards the same goals. They will not become sojourners if they regard themselves as part of New Zealand, share the responsibility and contributing towards a brighter future.

It is equally important for ethnic candidates to lead by example that campaigning is about debating the policy, not about personality. For ethnic communities it is more important to have a clean and positive campaign (I will blog on this separately). That way we will encourage ethnic community members – with many of whom coming from a non-democratic regime – to participate in our democracy and our nation building process.

Traditional Chinese Medicine not just for Chinese

Posted by on May 17th, 2011
Raymond Huo presenting certificate to Rebecca Wood at the NZ College of TCM Graduation ceremony on May 12, 2011.

Raymond Huo presenting certificate to Rebecca Wood at the NZ College of TCM Graduation ceremony on May 12, 2011.

Attending the New Zealand College of Chinese Medicine graduation ceremony last week I was immediately struck by the diversity of graduates.

Showing that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is becoming a wide-spread and accepted form of health care in New Zealand, graduating students came from Kiwi, Chinese, Korean and Iranian descent.

However it is unfortunate that New Zealand sits behind Australia who has implemented legislation to recognise TCM as a legitimate form of health care. While it seems on the outside that New Zealand has a strong awareness of Asia while Australia lags behind with its connection to Pauline Hanson and the One Nation Party, this anomaly would suggest otherwise.

When you take into account the recent anti-Asian leaflet campaign by Kyle Chapman and his far-right group, I wonder if New Zealand really does sit ahead of Australia in regards to race-relations and awareness of other cultures.

So I put it to Red Alert readers out there, do you think legislation should be implemented in the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine and what would you like to see this legislation achieve?

I look forward to reading your feedback.

Awareness of Asia increasing

Posted by on April 12th, 2011

Attending China Southern Airlines gala dinner in Auckland last night was a great experience to appreciate how New Zealand and China benefit from the trade and tourism industry.

China Southern Airlines, who has over 450 modern air-crafts in its entire fleet, confirmed last night that later this year they will fly daily from Auckland to Guangzhou – more than doubling from its current three times a week service.

This move is expected to increase the numbers of visitors on China Southern Airlines to 50,000 a year – worth an estimated $150 million to our economy.

With China becoming one of New Zealand’s fastest growing visitor markets (123,000 people visited last year – up nearly 17 per cent) and injecting around $365 million a year to the New Zealand economy, this new service will provide another boost to the New Zealand tourism industry.

It was also announced that Immigration New Zealand will have a Visa Acceptance Centre (VAC) operational in Guangzhou and VACs will also be established simultaneously in Beijing and Shanghai to meet the increased demand.

This announcement also coincided with the annual Asia New Zealand Foundation survey of New Zealanders perceptions of Asia and Asian people’s.

With the success of the Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and China, and an increase in awareness of Asian cultural celebrations like Diwali and Lantern Festival, New Zealanders seem to be placing more importance on New Zealand’s relationship with the Asian region, according to the survey results.

Some of the key findings of the survey are listed below:

– More than three-quarters of New Zealanders (77 per cent) see the Asian region as important to New Zealand’s future

– 38 per cent of New Zealander’s see the Asian region as very important to New Zealand’s future

– 84 per cent of New Zealanders are positive about the contribution that Asian people make to New Zealand society

– 75 per cent of New Zealanders believe that Asian immigrants bring a valuable cultural diversity to New Zealand

– Over a third of New Zealanders can name an event in their area that they see as having an Asian focus

Click below to see a copy of the study:

2011 is the Year of the Rabbit

Posted by on January 31st, 2011
Fireworks light up the night sky in Auckland from the Telstra Clear Events Centre, near Redoubt Road Intersection, a project that former Manakau Mayor now CORIN DANN: Right.</p>
<p>JOHN KEY: ...and the reason that's a problem is not that we can influence necessarily directly always what you do as an individual, but the rating agencies are looking at a combine debt and actually Spain has a very similar profile to New Zealand. Last week, I might add by the way, all this stuff is real, Standard and Poor's downgrade Japan, so it's...-Mayor of Auckland championed. Road users who have benefited from the new intersection have even suggested it should be named: ‘Len Brown’s Bypass’.

Fireworks light up the night sky in Auckland from the Telstra Clear Events Centre, near Redoubt Road Intersection, a project that former Manakau Mayor now super-Mayor of Auckland championed. Road users who have benefited from the new intersection have even suggested it should be named: ‘Len Brown’s Bypass’.

Congratulations must be extended to Michael Wood for his first successful appearance in the Chinese community.

At the WTV Chinese New Year celebration at the TelstraClear Events Centre on the weekend, Michael was met with rapturous applause by the 800-strong audience when he greeted the crowd in perfect Chinese. He even gained a nick-name from festival-goers – ‘Labour’s handsome candidate for Botany’.

Chinese New Year falls on February 3 this year and with it brings various New Year celebrations, culminating in the two biggest events – the Chinese New Year and Market Day Festival at the ASB Showground’s and the WTV Lunar Festival at the TelstraClear Events Centre, with both events attracting more than 60,000 visitors.

Phil Goff was greeted warmly at both events and stuck a chord with the audience during his two speeches.

Sitting back on reflection of the two functions, it was striking from the way that the audience interacted with Phil Goff that the country needs a man of substance as opposed to a ‘smile and wave’ leader.

A constituent later told me that she felt grateful to John Key for his ‘honesty’ in showing National’s true colours. She said it appeared National had no plan
in how to grow the economy apart from selling our precious national assets.

For the Chinese community (like any other ethnic community) creation is preferred to speculation when it comes to the economy.

Kiwis spread their wings across the world

Posted by on December 31st, 2010

Isobel Thompson

Above: Raymond Huo with Isobel Thompson at the launch of the Soong Ching Ling Foundation of NZ.

For a country of four million people it is remarkable how many New Zealanders have made their mark and spread their influence around the world.

A recent article in the Listener profiled seven Kiwis who have made it big in different parts of the globe. All of them had amazing success stories and are now seen as leaders in their various career paths.

But this isn’t a recent occurrence, New Zealanders have been putting their stamp on the world for generations and recently I was privileged to meet one such person at the Establishment of the Soong Ching Ling Foundation in Auckland.

Ms Isobel Easton Thompson is 90-years-old and worked as nurse in China from 1947-1950. She went to China with the New Zealand foundation CORSO and worked for the Chinese Welfare Fund which was headed by Madam Soong Ching Ling (aka Mme Sun Yatsen).

Madam Soong Ching Ling (1893-1981) has been recognised as one of the most influential people of the 20th Century for her contribution and dedication to world peace, socialist causes and global development and before her death in 1981 she was awarded the title of Honorary President of Peoples Republic of China.

Ms Thompson worked closely with Madam Soong Ching Ling during her time in China and detailed her experiences in the book, Yellow River, Mules and Mountains: A New Zealand nurse in China 1947-1950, which gives a fascinating insight into a western nurse living in China during an interesting phase of the country’s history.

Ms Thompson is a member of the Soong Ching Ling foundation of Shanghai and was proud to be on hand as the New Zealand branch was officially recognised.

Madam Soong Ching Ling once said: many things could wait but work for children could not. The Soong Ching Ling foundation will continue her life’s work and ensure that her legacy lives on for generations to come.

Dear Minister Parata, can you help the Ethnic community?

Posted by on December 8th, 2010

I wonder whether the newly appointed Minister of Ethnic Affairs Hekia Parata will be more motivated to address the concerns of the ethnic community than her predecessor Pansy Wong?

Under Ms Wong’s tenure as Minister of Ethnic Affairs, the Ethnic unemployment rate soared to 13.8 per cent, while the Asian unemployment rate doubled from 4.7 per cent when Labour was in office to 10.5 per cent.

When I questioned Ms Wong about the soaring unemployment rate amongst the ethnic community, I was given excuses, half-baked ideas and talk-fests as solutions for the problem.

As it’s the festive season, a season to be jolly and giving, here is my present to Hon Hekia Parata:

My Private Members Bill – Immigration (Migrant Levy) Amendment Bill.

The Bill will extend the amount of funding drawn from the Migrant Levy towards English as a second language and employment orientated training.

This will ensure that migrants are ready to enter the workforce and curtail the rising unemployment level amongst our ethnic communities.

The migrant levy is paid by all migrants upon entering New Zealand. My Bill will not put any strain on tax-payers but use the Levy funds in a more efficient way, to help prepare migrants to enter the workforce.

I have also launched a consultation process on this bill in the ethnic community. In a follow up blog, I will report on how this consultation is progressing.

Follow the money – and find Wong

Posted by on November 24th, 2010

Not unusual for John Key and Pansy Wong to eat with large groups of  Chinese people in Bellamys.

Pansy collected these and many other cheques which were assumed to going to the National Party – we thought they were being laundered through the Waitemata or other National Party controlled trusts.

But now we know that in fact the money has been paid into an account controlled by Pansy and Sammy Wong.

No wonder Key doesn’t want her to resign – he wants to collect the money variously decribed as hundreds of thousands and well over a million.

No substance: in plain English or otherwise

Posted by on October 15th, 2010
Image from the Shanghai Expo

Image from the Shanghai Expo

Following a panel discussion at the University of Auckland and a speech at the Rotary Club I felt compelled to ask this question of Finance Minister Bill English: Do you have a plan to grow our economy or have you missed yet another opportunity?

As one of the six panellists at the World Habitat Day Seminar we engaged in a quality debate as to what the success of the Shanghai Expo meant to New Zealand. A similar debate was followed at a Rotary Club function in Auckland where I was invited as a keynote speaker.

I noted that one-third of the expo buildings (250,000m2 of 800,000 m2) were revamped from old, obsolete manufacturing buildings, with many of the new facilities eco-equipped.

The expo is not a one-off showcase. Instead China took the opportunity to enhance the infrastructure of its largest city. The development acted as part of a massive stimulus package which quickened the country’s recovery from the recession.

In fact it is not a simple “recovery”. It managed to maintain its GDP growth to the level of at least 9 per cent. This is extraordinary when we compare China’s economy to that of Japan in the mid-1970s. Back then per capita income in Japan reached US$4000 (in current $ terms) and its GDP growth stalled from 7 per cent to 5 per cent before eventually stopping.

At that time 66 per cent of Japan’s population lived in cities as opposed to now where only 45 per cent of Chinas population lives in cities. It is therefore believed that through urbanisation alone China can and will maintain its growth which is so powerful that it has lifted the growth of other countries, including Australia and New Zealand.


Paul Henry inspires Chinese Alumni

Posted by on October 12th, 2010

The 400 strong audience at the launch of the University of Auckland Chinese Alumni group

 In 1989, then Education Minister Phil Goff made a change in legislation which created an export-education industry now worth over $2.3 billion per year.

Twenty one years on, thousands of fee-paying international students have studied in New Zealand, injecting billions of dollars into our economy and enhancing the diversity of our country.

Some of them have become qualified and settled in NZ as migrants while others returned to their home country. But no matter where they ended up, they all share a common theme – “we love New Zealand”.

On Monday night, more than 400 such people turned up to celebrate the launch of the University of Auckland Chinese Alumni Club.

The majority of them might not sound or look like true New Zealanders according to Paul Henry’s standards, but New Zealand is where their hearts are.

I personally thanked Paul Henry in my speech for his decision to resign from TVNZ.

Another alumnus Paul Thomas asked a number of key questions in the New Zealand Herald last week. He asked:

• Does Henry engage in cutting satire at the expense of the rich and powerful?

• Does he champion unpopular causes?

• Does he challenge middle-class New Zealand’s complacent assumptions?

• Is he a subversive figure like the American comedian Lenny Bruce who suffered police harassment and blacklisting?

Paul henry will fail each of the above questions.

Instead, Paul Henry tried his best to make racism funny and acceptable in New Zealand through his continued irresponsible and derogatory comments, culminating in the attack on our Governor General Anand Satyanand.


Plea for help to the Police Minister

Posted by on October 8th, 2010

I was compelled to send a letter to Police Minister Judith Collins after being contacted by a Chinese constituent who lives in Glen Innes, Auckland, yesterday.

As a Chinese-New Zealander, this man may not look or sound like a Kiwi (according to former National Party Candidate Paul Henry’s summation) but his concerns are genuine and need to be addressed.

The constituent told me of his frustration with the police after having his home broken into eight times over the past three months.

The aftermath of a recent break-in

The aftermath of a recent break-in

During September his home was broken into twice in one week with the last break-in on October 1.

The constituent and his family are not only frustrated with the constant break-ins, but also by the response of the police.

On each occasion, the police have taken three and four days to respond and after taking fingerprints and doing a scene examination, no follow up has occurred.

The constituent is unemployed and every break-in adds to the financial pressure on the family. The man tells me that his family are living in a constant state of fear and anxiety.

The family has not only lost property through the burglaries but the house has suffered damage with broken windows, kicked in walls and graffiti occurring through the house.

As a New Zealander and Member of Parliament, I’m horrified that this situation is happening in our country. No one should have to live in a state of fear like this man and his family.

I seek a practical response from the Police Minister as to how she intends to deal with this situation.

It’s almost been two years since the NACT Government came into office on the back of a big law and order campaign – but what have they done to help ordinary Kiwis in that time?

National’s empty rhetoric is good for one thing

Posted by on August 31st, 2010

On our regular radio show (on Radio Chinese Voice AM936) the Minister for Ethnic Affairs Pansy Wong and I engage in a Q & A session with listeners.

I made the point recently that under her watch the ethnic unemployment rate has grown to 13.5 percent while the Asian unemployment rate has doubled to 10.5 percent.

However, it is not fair for me to make her to face the music on these statistics. After all, she is just following her Party lines. No wonder every time I ask her about topical matters (either through my columns in the Chinese media or Written Questions) such as how to grow economy or create jobs her standard response appears to be organising yet another “ethnic forum”.

The ‘ethnic forum’ she so positively speaks about sounds eerily similar to her Government’s catastrophic Job Summit. It will be just another talk-fest. A token gesture which does nothing to address the unemployment issue.

Media have summarised well that the top three measures implemented by the National-Act Government so far are the national cycle way; the job summit and the 90-day fire-at-will employment law.

The top three measures, despite being futile, have prompted blogs on the Chinese-language social media site to encourage fellow internet surfers to play a game similar to but different from crosswords.

A loose translation of the blog (copied below) is as follows:

After listening to what Raymond Huo said this morning regarding the National Government’s top three measures in job creation, I had the following words sprung to my mind:

a 2-word phrase: ‘be disgraced';

a 3-word phrase: ‘can’t help it';

a 4-word phrase: ‘donkey exhausted its tricks’ [derived from a Chinese idiom];

a 5-word phrase: ‘come off sentry duty now’ [derived from a popular Chinese phrase “xia-gang” which means “if one failed to deliver he or she will be removed from the office.]

Being made redundant is probably its English equivalent. Some further commenting by bloggers said that they would ‘never vote’ for National again for failing to deliver and for breaking promises such as raising GST, among other things.


2010-07-22 16:20










The bright side of this is that the National Government’s empty rhetoric is not always useless. It offered, like this blogger has demonstrated, some good initiatives for migrants to hone their linguistic skills.

Ethnic Aucklanders under-represented in council controlled organisations

Posted by on August 31st, 2010

The list of directors and chairs for Auckland Super City’s council-controlled organisations agreed by Cabinet last week under-represents the Asian and Ethnic voice.

It is a big disappointment the Government has not acknowledged more fully Asian and Ethnic representation in its Super City reform.

There are many successful Asian business people to choose from. This is exactly the kind of initiative the Government should be using to improve representation for ethnic people.

According to the Government every single member and chair is an Aucklander, yet the make-up of CCO boards announced does not acknowledge the over 20 percent of Aucklanders of ethnic descent.

This insensitivity is not acceptable to the wider ethnic community of Auckland, who have contributed hugely to the cities economic development.

These nominations were invited from Mayors of all Auckland territorial authorities, the chair of the Auckland Regional Council, Ministers, as well as the Ministers of Women’s Affairs, Consumer Affairs, and Pacific Island Affairs, Te Puni Kökiri, the Offices of Ethnic Affairs and Disabilities and the Treasury.

I question how robust this nomination process was, because the CCO board certainly does not reflect the diversity of Auckland city.

Silly idea number 10 – what do you think?

Posted by on August 26th, 2010

Come up with the idea that lots of rich people would like to retire to Godzone and bring their money with them. Ignore strong official advice to the contrary.

Announce with due fanfare. Wait 3 months. Discover that only 12 have applied (of whom 7 were coming anyway), and that none have yet been granted.


I think this idea is –

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

The privileged few National supporters are frustrated

Posted by on August 21st, 2010

On our weekly radio show, Minister of Ethnic Affairs and I receive questions and messages from a new form of Chinese social media Using cloud computing, it is loosely a combination of a Chinese-language variation of Facebook, Twitter and online broadcasting.

Answering four questions last Wednesday (18 August), the Hon Pansy Wong said that exports had decreased under Labour and have increased since National came into office.

She neglected to mention that it was then Minister of Trade Phil Goff who signed the Free Trade Agreement with China. This opened the trade floodgates with China, making China our second largest trading partner. In the first year of the FTA, trade increased by 62 percent with China – National were in office for less than four months of this period.

On the issue of the spiraling Asian unemployment rate, which has just hit a record high of 10.5 percent, Ms Wong said that “although unemployment is increasing so is the rate of employment, although the speed of job creation is slower than that of the number of people who are losing their jobs.”

I’m not sure whether that statement even makes sense – but it shows you the Minister has no answer to the now more than 23,000 Asian-New Zealanders who are unemployed.

On ACC, Ms Wong stated that ACC deficits had been reversed under National.

Let’s take a look at the figures. In 2009 ACC collected $4.2billion and spent $3.1billion. This equals a $1.1billion surplus, not a deficit. You have to read the Listener article of 24-30 Oct 09 (Vol:220) to appreciate that $4.8B deficit is a farce.

And on minimum wage, she said the country may not be able to afford it should it be increased (the above is not verbatim translation).

Judging by the mood of that social media site, it is becoming increasingly painful for those National supporters that the National government is being exposed on a daily basis.

They try to shut down the quality debate by resorting to abusive comments. For example, here are the comments from the three apparent National supporters:

nzwine , 8964

2010-08-16 14:30




CD?? 2010-08-15 23:17



Receiving criticism and unpleasant comments is part and parcel of being an MP – it’s unavoidable. But watching “the usual business” of those National supporters who can only resort to slanging makes me feel sorry for the National Party.

While Labour supporters have displayed reasoned debate, it is unfortunate that those National supporters choose to shut it down with derogatory and insulting comments which add nothing to the subject at hand.

To translate these comments above softens the meaning. But the way they presented themselves appeared to support the suggestion that they are the same small group of people that have operated consistently and systematically since the 2008 general election.

A reason why I am posting these comments is to also alert the National Party to this. Their reputation and image is being tarnished in the Chinese community by those reckless supporters.