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Clydesdale report rubbished

Written By: - Date published: 10:56 am, May 28th, 2008 - 29 comments
Categories: economy, im/migration, Media, racism - Tags: , ,

Greg Clydesdale’s report that labelled Pacific Islanders a ‘drain on the economy’ has been rubbished as a lazy, intellectually dishonest piece of work by fellow academics.

The report concludes that Pacific Islanders make no net contribution to the economy but the substance of the report does not justify that conclusion in the slightest. Moreover, it ignores the other effects of immigration and, as we pointed out last week, appears totally ignorant of class and history.

Race Relations Conciliator Joris de Bres (a man who impresses with his intellect, sense of practicality, and dry wit – traits which I would say were typically Dutch if that weren’t racial stereotyping) has chosen to undertake a report on Clydesdale’s paper and the media coverage around it. This has upset some who seem to think the Race Relations Conciliator has no business commenting on race relations issues that arise in the public discourse. It is his job to do just that.

Let’s just be clear, no-one is disputing Clydesdale’s right to be a lazy bigot or to say lazy, bigoted things, nor the right of anyone to cover that report in a sensationalist manner. However, when producing an academic work that work can be critiqued according to academic standards. And when that work is jumped on in the media and bandied about as some higher truth that Pacific Islanders are worse than other New Zealanders it is hardly surprising if it gets criticised in the media (mainstream or blogosphere) too.

Just as Clydesdale has a right to call Pacific Islanders lazy without justification, we have the right to call Clydesdale a lazy bigot, with every justification.


29 comments on “Clydesdale report rubbished ”

  1. Subtext: don’t make negative comments about core Labour voters.

  2. Ben R 2

    Dom Post editorial today:

    “Interviewed this week, Mr de Bres seemed as irritated by the fact that the research was done at all and that a media outlet had the temerity to report it as with any “issues” that the study might have raised. The commissioner seems unhappy that the paper gained access to Dr Clydesdale’s research and to believe – erroneously – that those who disagreed with it had no chance to comment.

    He needs to reread the article. Pacific Island Affairs Minister Winnie Laban was quoted as seriously rejecting Dr Clydesdale’s findings, which may well be flawed. So was Samoan Advisory Council spokesman Tino Pereira…

    Mr de Bres seems in danger of forgetting this is a democracy, in which academics have the freedom their institutions allow them to comment and critique society and newspapers have the right not only to report such comment and criticism but also to decide what prominence to give what is, by any definition, news.
    Mr de Bres is entitled to his review. But if it does not find that it is totally legitimate for an academic to research immigration policy and for the media to report it, then the review will be flawed. Society is benefited in no way by political correctness taken to extremes.”


  3. Oh christ. The racists come out again.

  4. Ben R 4

    “Oh christ. The racists come out again.”

    Ad hominem attack – again.

  5. Byran. You’re disgracing yourself.

    Ben R. That Dompost editorial is a disgrace getting all upset because the race relations conciliator is writing a report on the treatment of race in this public issue.

    Maybe the Dom shouldn’t have used a crappy report as the basis for their front page headline that called Pacific Islanders a drain on New Zealand.

    It’s not Joris’s fault that the Dom’s made itself look silly by pinning its flag to the work of a fool.

  6. Ben R 6

    “Maybe the Dom shouldn’t have used a crappy report as the basis for their front page headline that called Pacific Islanders a drain on New Zealand.”

    I agree the headline was silly. But have you read the report/paper? I couldn’t access that clip you posted about academics criticising it.

  7. Steve P: so you would be getting this upset if an academic published a paper saying “middle aged middle class white males are more likely to drink and drive” ? Somehow I don’t think so.

  8. Pascal's bookie 8

    Ben R, given the silliness of their headline do you think the dompost is being just tad precious in the editorial you quoted?

    The dompost can run whatever silly headlines it likes. People can criticise it for doing so.

    If they get criticism it can defend the headlines accuracy, or as in this case, act like a whiney assed titty baby.

    The dompost seems to be terribly upset that they are being criticised. As if they are somehow exempt. They chose to run the story the way they did.

    How did they get the report? Did they check it out with other academics?

    Or did they just say:

    “hmmm juicy, let’s put it on page one, with some ‘he said – she said ‘ quotes for ballance”

    Looks to me like the latter, and instead of crying about being oppressed by criticism, they should do a bit more due diligence in future.

    If they’d done so they might have had a story about academics pimping sensationalist shoddy work and being busted. But that’s too much hard work, and isn’t worth a silly headline taking up a quarter of the front page.

  9. burt 9

    Steve P.

    Any group that is so througherly failed by the govt policies in health and education will be a drain on society.

    This report speaks volumes about govt policy and the so called “target group” is not a target group at all, they are the ones failed by govt policies and state monopolies.

    I’m not at all surprised you are joining the band wagon to shoot the messenger, the message is bad news for the govt.

  10. r0b 10

    Any group that is so througherly failed by the govt policies in health and education will be a drain on society.

    The gaps are closing Burt, just too slowly.

    But tell me, are you proposing special assistance targeted by race Burt? I think it’s an excellent idea. But you’ll never get it out of National Burt – the party that brought us Orewa 1.

  11. burt. The message is a shoddy piece of partisan hackery.

    And I’m not sure it’s fair to say Pacific Islanders are being failed by health and education – their stats are improving sharply. But what would your solution be? Not more money or culturally sensitive services, I’m assuming.

  12. Bryan. a) that headline would be incorrect. b) if it was true and that was the conclusion not ‘white middle aged males are a drain on society’, it wouldn’t be a problem.

  13. burt 13


    Targeting assistance by race is exactly the wrong thing to do. You see it’s a socioeconomic issue not a race issue. The reason it presents itself as a race issue is that Maori and pacific islanders have a bigger proportion of their people in lower socioeconomic circumstances.

    Targeting the lower socioeconomic groups irrespective of race is the answer; I think we all know that.

    I’m using some made up figures, but I think you will get my drift. Take the NZ population as 4 mill for the sake of my fictional example.

    If 20% of the population are Maori/PI – then lets say that’s 800,000 people, and lets say that 25% of them are in the lowest socioeconomic group and therefore we could say that represents 200,000 people who we might say need a lot more assistance.

    However we could then say that 10% of the remainder of the population are in the same situation, which would be 320,000 people.

    On the surface it’s easy to say 2.5 times as many Maori/PI people need assistance and statistically that may be correct as a proportion of Maori people vs non Maori people, however it ignores the relative populations.

    Yes it’s a big problem that the govt policies and monopoly state providers are failing low socioeconomic groups. The way the findings were presented was also very poor, but lets not shoot the messenger or simply apply a band-aid in the form of race based policies.

  14. burt 14

    Steve P.

    burt. The message is a shoddy piece of partisan hackery.

    I agree it was presnted very badly. However the message is valid and should not be ignored simply because it’s a slap in the face for Labour.

  15. r0b 15

    Targeting assistance by race is exactly the wrong thing to do. You see it’s a socioeconomic issue not a race issue. The reason it presents itself as a race issue is that Maori and pacific islanders have a bigger proportion of their people in lower socioeconomic circumstances.

    Gosh thanks for the demographics 101 there Burt.

    Of course it is a socio-economic issue. But it is also a race issue — as per your own rhetoric about about PI’s being “failed” by government policy. If you believe that PIs are being failed, how can you object to assistance being targeted at PIs?

    Or in slightly more depth if you like — minority groups have their own particular issues of culture, language and identity that interact with other socio-economic factors. To pretend that these don’t exist is to miss an opportunity to give assistance more effectively. Obvious and simple case in point, NZ supplies important documents such as those relating to enrolment and elections in many PI languages. As of course it should and must.

    All these questions and issues have been played out on a much larger stage than New Zealand. Do some reading Burt, I suggest the following as a starting point:

    However the message is valid

    Did you read the original post at all Burt? Did you listen to the RadioNZ piece linked? The message is not valid, it has been rubbished by real academics from Massey and Otago, it was described as “sloppy unbalanced and out of date”.

  16. burt 16


    If you support affirmative action then surely you must agree with me that as Asian’s are very underrepresented in the All Blacks we must immediately implement an Asian quota for the All Blacks.

    It’s a national disgrace given the percentage of Asian people in NZ that we don’t have at least 1 or 2 taking the field every time the All Blacks play.

    Naturally a good way to make way for the Asian quota would be to place a maximum of 20% Maori and Pacific Island players on the team. Currently Maori & Pacific Islanders, who although they may be the best players we have, have been over represented in the team compared to their percentage of the population.

  17. Lew 17

    Re the DomPost editorial, I agree that society isn’t served by glossing over the hard issues, and research needs to be frank and transparent. The job of peer review is to ensure that it is, but also that it doesn’t overreach. I think the writer is coming on too strong. Joris de Bres neither has nor seeks any control over any academic institution or researcher’s work – but it’s his job to comment on such matters in the public forum.

    It’s in the nature of those who buy ink by the barrel to frequently allege they’re being prevented from using any of it.


  18. r0b 18

    That was pathetic Burt. Stop pretending to be interested in the state of PI people in New Zealand. All you want to do here is foolish political grandstanding.

  19. higherstandard 19

    No r0b

    Burt makes a fair point regarding

    “Targeting the lower socioeconomic groups irrespective of race is the answer;”

    We do tend to get very precious in NZ that each racial group needs to be treated distinctly and differently, this is very prevalent in my profession and to be honest from where I’m sitting it’s often a waste of time and resource.

  20. Ben R 20

    “over represented in the team compared to their percentage of the population.”

    In terms of sport there are pretty well documented in differences in average performance amongst population groups. I think Barron Afeaki wrote about how Pasific people tend to have mesomorphic body types which provides an advantage in sports like rugby.

    “A glance at our world map of athletic pockets or hothouses highlights places where evolution and accidents of culture have conspired to turn out athletes with extraordinary skills that have been honed by environmental adaptations.

    The cluster of islands that straddle the international date-line in the South Pacific, including Samoa and American Samoa, have also funneled hundreds of players into American football and rugby in Australia and New Zealand.

    “Football is like legalised village warfare, ” explains “Throwin’ Samoan” Jack Thompson, an all-America quarter-back from the University of Wisconsin in 1976.

    “There is an innate competitiveness in the warrior sense in Polynesian culture.” But more than cultural factors are at work. Polynesia is a hotbed of human biodiversity, with links to sub-Saharan Africa and aboriginal populations of Japan.

    This genetic mixture helps in part explain why athletes from this region are large, agile, and fast.”


  21. burt 21


    You didn’t like that example Funny that.

    I deliberately used an example that didn’t fit with our social conditioning, but lets be honest here – the thing that made that example seem ridiculous/wrong is only that it didn’t fit with our social conditioning. No more no less.

    I suspect you will be a supporter of the Maori & Pacific Island quota for Law and Medicine in our Uni’s?

    Perhaps you could clarify your objection to the rugby example.

    Was it because you don’t think rugby is a career?
    Was it because you want the team to be picked only on ability?
    Was it because you don’t like Asians?
    Was it because you think the game of rugby is more important than the notion of having the racial proportion in society represented in high profile careers?

    It’s hard to be PC, logical and fair all at the same time isn’t it. Your reaction to my example tells me you don’t really support the concept of race based policies and affirmative action. Perhaps you only support the political capital gained by race based policies when there are votes to be gained from them?

    BTW: You are very wide of the mark saying I don’t care about low socioeconomic groups, of any race.

    Ben R.

    Some good reading on that subject here:

  22. Lew 22

    burt: “Was it because you think the game of rugby is more important than the notion of having the racial proportion in society represented in high profile careers?”

    You’re closest to the mark with this one, but the justification isn’t that Maori representation should be mandated in `high profile careers’ as much as it should be mandated in careers where one’s culture has a significant bearing on one’s practice in that career, and where Maori are significantly underrepresented in that area of practice.

    You cite medicine and law. Both are areas where practice norms, institutional knowledge and research or advocacy agendas (what gets researched or advocated) are closely tied to the culture or ethnicity of those forming the body of people in that practice. Maori are severely disadvantaged in both the medical and legal systems, and a significant part of this problem is in cultural distance between the Pakeha-centred system itself and those Maori who are disadvantaged by it. The logic goes that if more Maori play a role in creating and maintaining the systems, the systems will be more responsive to the needs of Maori, and the degree of disadvantage will be lowered.

    I understand that you probably don’t buy this, but that’s not at issue here. What’s at issue is that the All Blacks example you put up was a straw man, and that’s why: the initial imperative which gave rise to the affirmative action programme doesn’t exist in that case.

    (I’m constraining my comments to Maori since that’s the area I know, and I don’t presume to speak on r0b’s behalf.)


  23. r0b 23

    Burt makes a fair point regarding
    “Targeting the lower socioeconomic groups irrespective of race is the answer;’

    Of course assistance should be targeted at lower socio-economic groups, that is a given.

    But if you ignore race you ignore the opportunity to be more effective. As a medical professional HS you should know that primary health care is crucial – a fence at the top of the cliff not an ambulance at the bottom. One definition includes “methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation”. Now do you seriously suggest that we can’t deliver such care more effectively by using a knowledge of, and appropriate targeting to, specific cultural / linguistic / racial groups?

    We do tend to get very precious in NZ that each racial group needs to be treated distinctly and differently, this is very prevalent in my profession and to be honest from where I’m sitting it’s often a waste of time and resource.

    Then make suggestions about how it can be done more effectively. But don’t let your ideological blinkers oversimplify complex issues. There are real issues here and lots of real research on them. Here’s a good overview of some of the American research, there are books, reports, and articles.

    We can ignore this kind of information HS – or we can use it. I know which I prefer.

  24. Phil 24

    I think we could all do with re-reading HS’ comment a little bit back up the thread…

    “We do tend to get very precious in NZ that each racial group needs to be treated distinctly and differently, this is very prevalent in my profession and to be honest from where I’m sitting it’s often a waste of time and resource”

    It reminds me of an apocryphal story from the plague in Europe during the 1600’s – one doctor was healing patients using a Moorish (heathen) method.
    His colleagues were horrified, asking “Don’t you care about these peoples souls?”
    His response; “We are doctors, let us heal their bodies. Leave the souls to the priests”

  25. r0b 25

    Perhaps you could clarify your objection to the rugby example.

    Perhaps I could Burt, but not without saying unkind things about you. Bye for now.

  26. AncientGeek 26

    burt et al: Of course there are differences between groups of people.

    They show up in all sorts of stats. For instance with the number of maori in prison, prevalence of various types of diabetes, males currently being able to give birth, being 7 foot and able to drop hoops without jumping, whatever.

    What burt in particular is ignoring (as he likes to do), is that you aren’t all that interested in fixing differences. What you’re interested in is having an equality of opportunity.

    Now you also don’t bother fixing things that you can’t. For instance the probability of burt giving birth at any age is minimal. At its probable age, it is unlikely even if it was female.

    On the other hand there are a lot of things that do look correctable or transient over the generations.

    For instance we could look at all of the positively nasty things said about ‘bog irish’ in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the newspapers of the time make kiwiblog or whale’s site look positively benign by comparison. The problems with drink, drugs, woman, too many children, short life spans, health problems, problem gambling, etc look much the same. Some of those problems were observable in the limited stats of the time. These days it’d be hard to distinguish people of irish descent in the stats.

    During my lifetime, I’ve heard exactly the same kinds of things about poms, ‘dalmations’, polynesians, maori, asians, etc. Frankly it is all crap. Smalltalk for the small-minded.

    For instance I’ve met 6ft+ chinese kids who’d be perfect for playing sport if they were daft enough to want to do that for a living. Their families have been here a while, and it is amazing what diet does over the generations.

    You use whatever statistical correlations there are available to target resources where it is needed. It doesn’t matter if that is a correlation between smoking and heart disease, or the incidence of diabetes amongst 1st and 2nd generation polynesian.

    In the end you treat the whole of society for social and medical issues. We’ve almost certainly had to do it for your family in past generations. Whining about it being done for other groups is just small-minded and very stupid envy.

    hs: If taking cognizance of culture gets people in to be treated, then it probably is worthwhile. It is simple politeness that pays huge dividends in getting people in for early treatment. Late treatment is always more costly as far as I can tell.

    People talk about quacks amongst their family – hell I do. There are the adequete ones and the bad ones. In notice that when I have a awful quack I avoid all doctors for a while.

  27. higherstandard 27


    Agreed but treating people shouldn’t be secondary to (and I’m sorry to use the terminology) being politically correct and culturally sensitive.

  28. burt 28


    I buy the sentiment and the reasoning, not the method. But you have done a better job than some others here of a) dismantling my strawman and b) providing a well reasoned argument to support affirmative action.

    There is a level of ‘creating role models’ that I can see as valid, however for me the solution is about making the right kids want it enough that they work for it. Denying otherwise eligible entrants to make way for quota positions is way to late in the process to intervene.

    Running a ‘income below x threshold’ filter over kids year 6-8 assessments to select the brightest from the most disadvantaged for high school scholarship schemes is fine by me. If 5 years of top notch schooling before they hit varsity hasn’t prepared them for the entry criteria then it’s bloody lucky they didn’t get in there any other way.

    Tell me how much it costs and I’ll either vote for or against it and democratically take the outcome. Nobody is being disadvantaged to provide the assistance, it simply has a cost and IMHO that’s the key to good intervention vs bad intervention.

  29. R Auta 29

    I’m a 25 yr old Samoan born and bred in NZ (ie a New Zealander). I am the eldest of five children. I recently completed my studies and I am currently working as a Solicitor at one of NZ’s top firms. The 2nd eldest is in his last years at Med Sch. The 3rd is also at Uni, with the fourth in her last year at high school with ambitions of doing engineering next year. The youngest is still at primary school. My parents worked extremely hard to give us the opportunities my siblings and I have today. My mother never stopped working since she left school, with the majority of her working life holding down two jobs. She now runs her own business. My father has worked many jobs to put food on the table such as a factory hand, a panel beater, a taxi driver, and a social worker.

    I’ve read the report, and to be absolutely truthful, it doesn’t represent me or my family. I know it’s predictions are ill informed, but I didn’t need to do my own research to know that Clydesdale’s report is lacking. I just need to look at what me and my family’s aspirations are, and I can tell you now, we have a life of opportunities before us all, and no Clydesdale report is going to change that!

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