Biculturalism and Immigration

Feb 22

New Zealand is distinctive among the four “traditional lands of immigration” in North America and Australasia (Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand) in the emphasis that is given to biculturalism within a context of increasing ethnic and cultural diversity. Among the four, New Zealand’s indigenous population comprises the largest share of the total population and has the most prominent role in debates about the development of social and economic policy.

During the 1990s Maori began to agitate more strongly for a greater say in the development of immigration policy. In their view, the preamble to the Treaty of Waitangi, which explicitly refers to the immigration of settlers from Great Britain and its colonies, is New Zealand’s founding immigration policy document. Maori are not generally anti-immigration, but there is increasing concern that there are no official channels for addressing their interests in the broad area of population policy, including immigration. The New Zealand First Party, which does have an anti-immigration policy, is led by a Maori, Winston Peters. The party did not have wide electoral support amongst Maori voters in the recent national elections. To know more information about Australia migration visit Australia migration

New Zealand’s governments have generally had quite explicit proactive immigration policies since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. At several times during the 20th century the New Zealand government subsidized the costs of immigration, especially for people from the United Kingdom and, for a period between 1947 and 1970, from the Netherlands. Since the 1970s there has not been any direct subsidization of immigration despite the emergence of a strong cyclical pattern of overall net gains and losses to New Zealand’s population through international migration. This shift from regular net gains to increasingly sharp fluctuations in gains and losses has contributed to the politicization of both immigration into New Zealand, as well as the emigration of New Zealanders to Australia.

Migration System, 1970-2002

In the early 1970s the predominant immigrant flows to New Zealand were from the United Kingdom, Australia, countries in Europe, and some neighboring Pacific Island groups. High levels of immigration between 1971 and 1974, especially from the United Kingdom and some Pacific Island countries, encouraged the New Zealand government to introduce stricter controls over entry in 1974, especially for British citizens. This was also the time of the infamous “dawn raids” on Pacific Islanders in Auckland — raids to identify overstayers for deportation. It was much easier to focus attention on potential “brown” overstayers from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, and Tonga than to try to find “white” overstayers from the UK and Europe.

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