Monday, September 1, 2014

The Racist Kiwis: Some still carry the spirit of their racist forebears of last century?

The Racist Kiwis: Some still carry the spirit of their racist forebears of last century?

Thakur Ranjit Singh

[This article was originally given to NZ Herald, which failed to even acknowledge its receipt, let alone publish it. White Media - Brown New Zealand.]

Objections to farm sales to Chinese have reached a stage where they can be termed as naked racism, camouflaged as nationalism by some politicians who NOW appear to be trying to stop Kiwis being tenants in their own country. Such concerns were never raised when the buyers were White people - either Europeans, Americans or other Anglo Saxons. One columnist has questioned: Should we be worried about growing Chinese interest in New Zealand dairy farms when German and American (White, my emphasis) investors have been snapping up paddocks throughout Canterbury, Otago and Southland? Is the spirit of White New Zealand League still alive in this millennium?

Early history of New Zealand shows that early settlers were a racist bunch, and current events show that some descendants of European extract are still so. The mainstream White newspapers some 90 years ago had less than honourable journalistic standards. We seem to be somewhat luckier now, though they still remain predominantly White.

Faced with economic competition in 1915s, the European farmers decided to form the White New Zealand League. Jacqueline Leckie in her book The Story of a New Zealand South Asian Community said a group of around sixty “White” farmers formed the White New Zealand League. This was done on 17 December, 1925. This racist organisation was reportedly prompted and supported by a supposedly racist White media, Franklin Times. This group had aimed to lobby for legislation restricting accessibility of land to Asians, among others. Their slogan was “Keep New Zealand a white man’s country.”

The White New Zealand League was set up in 1926 to campaign against the presence of Asians in New Zealand. This pamphlet argues that a 'white New Zealand' was the nation's inheritance and it should be maintained for 'your children's children and the Empire'.

The resolution of the League’s inaugural meeting was, among others “… to approach the Government to introduce legislation, making it illegal to lease or sell land to Asiatics…” as reported by a partisan newspaper Franklin Times of 17 December 1925. K.N Tiwari, writing about Indians Community in New Zealand, said that despite the demise of the League in late 1920, racial tension continued in Pukekohe and also elsewhere in New Zealand. Indians as well as Chinese and Maori were barred for many years from the dress circle of movie theatres in Pukekohe. As late as the 1950s local Pukekohe barbers also refused to cut the hair of Indians, Chinese and Maori. There were cases where the European landowners even wrote in their wills that none of their land or other properties (shops etc) could either be sold or leased to Asians.

Some nine decades ago, Asians comprised very small (half of one percent- 0.05%) population (700 Asians against 1,200,000 total) to now when they comprise some 12 per cent (540,000 against 4.5 million estimated in 2014) of New Zealand population. Despite this huge increase, xenophobia or racism we saw from Europeans in 1920 does not seem to have died down.
Now we have a new breed and generation of racist Europeans – politicians in suits, using this fear of Asians to fan ethnocentric racial fears to get into news and win votes. These politicians are using double standards: when Anglo Saxons or White people buy New Zealand, then it is welcome. But no sooner the Asians, especially Chinese attempt to do same, than they suddenly wake up to raise objections.

Thankfully, unlike Franklin Times of 1920, New Zealand Herald of today has some better journalists, with better ethics. One of them is Brian Rudman who has written in his column that these politicians shedding their tears for New Zealand are showing double standards. He asks where they were when Harvard University's endowment fund bought 165,000ha of trees in North Island, comprising New Zealand’s largest forest. This was in 2003, when Fletcher Challenge sold 106,000ha of its forest to another North American syndicate. Together these two sales comprised some 15 per cent of New Zealand’s exotic tree plantations, which were in foreign, (but White) hands. No problem then.

When hundreds of thousands hectares of forestry of Carter Holt Harvey was sold to a White firm from USA, nobody raised any objections. When a fraction of that farm size was  being sold to Chinese, there is much objection.

Nobody shed any tears when Graeme Hart sold 176,902ha of Carter Holt Harvey freehold forest around New Zealand, and another 63,615ha of leasehold forest to a United States group Hancock Natural Resources. Neither did we hear any cries when Mr Hart sold off 3,205ha of eight Waikato Dairy farms to a Swedish pension fund. In addition to these and before these sales, as far back as 1999, a Lincoln University calculation showed that 72 per cent of our pine forests were foreign-owned.

Another NZ Herald journalist Geoff Cumming did an inside story on foreign ownership on Saturday 16th August, 2014 edition (A9). He stated that in the wine industry, it is estimated that between 70 and 80 per cent of wine produced is ultimately owned by foreign companies. The question that goes begging, as Cumming probes: “Should we be worried about growing Chinese interest in New Zealand dairy farms when German and American (White, my emphasis) investors have been snapping up paddocks throughout Canterbury, Otago and Southland?”

What we see in New Zealand of the new millennium is that racism and xenophobia that was present some nine decades, is still ablaze. Under the veneer of diplomacy, and chants of multiracialism, we still have very active smouldering lava of these feeling among White New Zealanders.

Crafar Farms: Initially when the smoldering racism erupted on sale to Chinese

These forms of racism still exist in job market in the new century, where qualified migrants still struggle to enter job markets suitable to their qualifications. In 2007, I wrote on this subject about racism and discrimination in a NZ Herald article: “…. if a pregnant woman had to give birth while in an Auckland taxi, she would be safe. And you would be luckier to have a heart attack in one of Auckland's public buses. This is because the chances are that the Indian taxi driver is doctor, or the Asian bus driver is a cardiologist.”

Lochinver Farms: Objection raised on sale to Chinese-it would have gone unnoticed had it been sold to White buyers, as has happened with other such sales

As they say, leopards do not change their spots. Racism is still well and alive in the First World of New Zealand today.

[Wait for the next article probing racism in Local Board election] 


[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is Media and Community Liaison Officer of Waitakere Ethnic Board, and is a blogger on KIWI PUNDIT and FIJI PUNDIT. He is a scholar of AUT’s Journalism School. Thakur feels White Mainstream media of NZ have not browned up their newsrooms to reflect the demographic make up of New Zealand. And yet they are crying that Pacific and ethnic news are not well-covered by the main stream media. Thakur fills up that vacuum to raise issues of racism and ethnic issues not normally seen in the mainstream White media. This article was given to NZ Herald which did not even acknowledge its receipt.]

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