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Revisiting the Chinese-sounding-names story

Written By: - Date published: 6:15 am, November 25th, 2017 - 249 comments
Categories: housing, journalism, making shit up, Media, racism - Tags: ,

Russell Brown has a post up at Public Address revisiting the Chinese-sounding-names debacle in 2015. It’s based on a talk between Brown, bFM reporter Jogai Bhatt and data journalist and former Herald reporter Harkanwal Singh. Singh was working at The Herald when the Chinese sounding names story was run and describes what went on and the problems with how The Herald handled the data and its own white cultural bias. There’s also a good explanation of what data journalism is and how/why it’s important.

Brown describes Singh’s commentary as “polite and pleasant and occasionally pretty brutal on issues of data and diversity”. I found Singh’s descriptions of the problems of having a team of journalists and editors that were predominantly white with only one Asian person particularly erudite (and no, he’s not saying that being white is bad, so please let’s not go there).

This is a difficult issue and set of dynamics for NZ. We have a serious problem with anti-Asian racism. To put it bluntly in the context of this post, if the left/progressives and NZ generally want to have meaningful conversations about migration and/or the housing crisis we need to learn how to do that without being racist. We’re not there yet, but it’s past time we made this a priority. One of the solutions is to listen to what Asian people in NZ have to say and pay attention.

Here’s the video of the talk, but please also read Brown’s post for context. Keith Ng’s post from 2015 is worth (re)reading too.

Moderator note: I’ll be moderating tightly in this thread. Please take note of the part of the Policy that talks about not using tone or language that has the effect of excluding others. The priorities here are to share the PA story and provide a space for discussion that is inclusive. Specifically generalisations about race or ethnicity will be moved and short bans issued where people are unable to make this an inclusive space. Considered comments are welcome. Please read Brown’s post and watch the 11 min video before commenting. 

249 comments on “Revisiting the Chinese-sounding-names story ”

  1. Andre 1

    Let’s not forget a key point about this debacle: we don’t have good information about the citizenship and/or residency status of the ultimate beneficial owners of New Zealand property because the government refused to collect it. Even after the pressure built to the point where National felt they had to be seen to be doing something, the measures they introduced were the merest light once-over that does nothing to drill down to the real facts.

    As far as the “asian-sounding names” debacle goes, it looked to me like Rob Salmond really did do a good faith attempt to get a handle on how much “asian-sounding name” property buying activity was likely to be from recent foreign money versus citizens born here and permanent immigrants, given that the only data they had was fairly unreliable. I’m really disappointed that Keith Ng’s 2015 Public Address piece appeared to ignore the nuances of Salmond’s analysis and cherry-picked bits out of context in order to be able to shout “racist”.

    James Ting-Edwards’ comment at about number 11 in Brown’s Public Address piece does point to an alternative way to show there really was a problem with unexplained money flooding in. But it would do nothing to help identify where that money was coming from.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      it would do nothing to help identify where that money was coming from.

      We don’t need to know that though. As James Ting-Edwards says:

      That “magic money” came from somewhere, and is a legitimate domestic policy target regardless of its source in terms of countries, geopolitics, or cultural ties.

      The problem is the effect that “magic money” has on the domestic housing market. Not where the money originates. We know it can’t be explained by domestic borrowing.

      • Andre 1.1.1

        Seems to me where the money is coming from is still worth knowing.

        If money is flooding in from somewhere with a problematic culture with rampant kleptocracy and corruption, say Russia for instance, then I’ve got more concerns about it than if it’s coming from somewhere that the general cultural values are somewhat closer to ours, say Canada as an example.

        • tracey

          I do not know if this is relevant to the point about where the money comes from but I was put in mind of the Panama Papers and the tightening of rules by requiring an identifiable name and address. This resulted on only one third of those Trusts complying. Two thirds folded tents and left… Many ways to skin a cat when you know what you are targetting?

          I havent forgotten Key was dragged kicking and screaming to that change screaming ” we are not a tax haven”. Maybe not but that means those Trusts were used to hide something other than tax evasion cos off they scuttled.

          When the experts knew what they were looking at they were able to introduce a mechanism that saw to the problem.

          • Andre

            That’s certainly another good argument for collecting a lot more comprehensive information when large amounts of money are moving around.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            The mention of Canada and corruption got me thinking of Trudeau and the Paradise Papers.

            • simbit

              Canada very corrupt, at least my neck of the arboreal (Saskatchewan), and also a lot but racist than many would suspect. All very politely done of course…

              • What’s becoming clearer over time is that the West is very corrupt. Even nations with significant anti-corruption laws have significant corruption that’s never held to account. Take the rumours of the US Democratic Party apparently hiding sexual abuse claims so as to have the Clintons in power.

              • McFlock

                Starlight tours.
                It turned out that a recurring problem of Saskatoon first nations men going out into winter nights drunk and unprepared and freezing to death was actually the result of Saskatoon police officers ditching them in the wilderness in the middle of winter.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          However, while you’re sorting out the “corrupt” investments from the rest, and going through all the (years of) diplomatic and legal problems involved, the “magic money” is still distorting the domestic housing market.

        • D'Esterre

          Andre: “If money is flooding in from somewhere with a problematic culture with rampant kleptocracy and corruption, say Russia for instance….”

          Produce the evidence of this, if you would be so good. And not press reports quoting the opinions of “experts”, from the likes of NYT or WaPo. Or the BBC and other British outlets, come to that.

          And while you’re at it, similar evidence of Canada’s saintliness in this regard would be appreciated.I wasn’t aware that it was such an exemplar of virtue.

          Provenance may or may not be of moment, but it’s unwise to assume that money from polities which share our values (whatever that means) will always be from unexceptionable sources.

          • Andre

            If you really need to be educated about the parlous state of business and social culture in Russia, then you’re probably beyond any help I can give you. But here goes anyway; try googling something like russia kleptocracy examples


            which will bring up all kinds of things like this comment from Thomas Piketty


            or this from someone that got deeply involved in it until it became too personally hazardous


            With respect to Canada, my wording was “… general cultural values are somewhat closer to ours, say Canada as an example.” I didn’t say Canada was exemplar of saintliness. Nor would I assert New Zealand is exemplar of saintliness either, for that matter.

            • D'Esterre

              Andre: ” this from someone that got deeply involved in it until it became too personally hazardous”

              Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! The Magnitsky myth, huh? Surely you don’t believe that twaddle? I see your link and raise you this: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/10/28/guardians-of-the-magnitsky-myth/

              Nothing you’ve posted here comes as a surprise. Once upon a time, I’d have swallowed that lot uncritically, too. But one too many pieces of propaganda of this sort – long on vituperation and short on actual evidence – pinged my bullshit antennae.

              Remember what happened to the Russian economy under that old lush Yeltsin’s dubious leadership: wholesale thievery on the part of the oligarchy, enthusiastically egged on and supported by the US neolibs. Remember, too, that Yeltsin won the 1996 presidential election only because the CIA rigged it for him.

              In the late 1990s,Yeltsin was persuaded to step down in favour of the little-known Putin, then PM. This move could be facetiously characterised as “a political transition process following consultations with key stakeholders”, spurred by widespread unhappiness over the wrecking of the economy under Yeltsin. Putin was subsequently elected president at the next election.

              The Yankees initially had no issue with Putin’s election. But they came to detest him, on account of he stood on their hands and prevented them stealing any more of Russia’s assets.

    • D'Esterre 1.2

      Andre: ” we don’t have good information about the citizenship and/or residency status of the ultimate beneficial owners of New Zealand property because the government refused to collect it.”

      Indeed. And it’s a problem that goes back a ways. As I recall, Twyford and Labour were trying to bring this issue out into the open: hence the “Chinese-sounding names” imbroglio.

      Twyford and Salmond got such data as they had from the real estate agency to which, in our Auckland days, we used to refer as Barefoot and Thompson. And that data showed buyers to be disproportionately Chinese. Up to that point, it was the closest we’d got to having anything more substantive than anecdote, as to who was active in the Auckland market.

      Of course, one could also infer this from the very large numbers of Chinese agents employed by the above agency, along with many other agencies. And many Aucklanders did infer just that.

  2. I think Labour was on a hiding to nothing with this. As you say, NZ has a problem with anti-Asian racism. Which then means that, if White people in Labour have reason to think there’s a recent flood of investment money from China that’s contributing to the Auckland property bubble, but the government isn’t capturing information that would confirm it yes or no, there aren’t really any ways of looking into it that don’t look like anti-Asian racism.

    Especially if the nation’s anti-Asian racists then start conflating NZ property purchases by Chinese residents with property purchases by NZ residents of Chinese ethnicity. Wholesale PR clusterfuck guaranteed.

    • Anne 2.1

      Especially if the nation’s anti-Asian racists then start conflating NZ property purchases by Chinese residents with property purchases by NZ residents of Chinese ethnicity. Wholesale PR clusterfuck guaranteed.

      Do you mean Chinese non-residents? Because most of them are… even if they had nominated/hired “NZ residents” to do the actual purchasing. There may not have been any data gathered by the Nat government (deliberate of course) but most Aucklanders knew it because they witnessed the scenes at auctions, or were living alongside properties that were being sold to absentee Chinese nationals. I am surrounded by such properties.

      Edit: one of those purchasers is a “NZ resident of Chinese origin” and he has every right to be there. No-one – I repeat no-one – I know has any quarrel whatsoever with Chinese NZer neighbours. The majority are excellent citizens.

      • tracey 2.1.1

        I am wary of what most people think they know. That is why we need data…

        • Anne

          We knew what was going on because we saw it. We were living among it. Many of us had direct experience of the consequences. It pissed me off. It pissed off a great many people. We were not being listened to. Finally the Nat. govt. was forced into taking action and hey presto… most of them disappeared.

          It doesn’t matter a hoot where they come from – Siberia, Lapland, Timbuktu – they can piss off if they think they can buy our land and then return from whence they came. Time someone also updated the latest on Peter Thiel.

          • tracey

            I also saw instances of it Anne but I could not tell you how many Pakeha were doing the same thing because of assumptions made that they represent themselves at auctions.

            I just think the “Asian” aspect is a huge red herring. James Cameron, Taylor Swift etc own HUGE tracts of land in NZ…

            • Draco T Bastard

              James Cameron, Taylor Swift etc own HUGE tracts of land in NZ…

              And they shouldn’t be allowed to. As simple as that.

              Of course, neither National nor Labour will even look at passing law that achieves that as they’re both still stuck with capitalism and the supposed free-market.

              • tracey

                I agree but they are not the focus of the angst of many of those opposing foreign ownership. The Chinese have that “honour”.

                • weka

                  They are in the rural SI 😉 Doesn’t carry the same kind of context though right?

                • D'Esterre

                  Tracey: ” but they are not the focus of the angst of many of those opposing foreign ownership. The Chinese have that “honour”.”

                  Nope. Many of us – not just South Islanders – are extremely concerned about this. We want it to stop. Now. But nobody asks us what we think…

            • mikes

              Sorry Tracey but if you ever attended the weekly Barfoot and Thompson residential property auctions in Manukau (The largest real estate auctions in the country I think) then you’d understand a bit better where Anne is coming from.

              I did attend almost every week and out of hundreds and hundreds of people there would literally be 10 or less Caucasians in the room, sometimes none at all. This is a simple fact based upon observation with my own eyes. It is not racist or anti Asian or anything else, simply an observation. (Sad that I feel I have to add that last sentence)

              • weka

                Well if I went to local auctions it would be full of Caucasians. Why is that not a problem? Genuinely curious.

                • greywarshark

                  wela Aren’t you being disingenuous?

                  My favourite story about sharp housing practice is the Indian who had looked at a relatives property and had details about it, and put them up on the net under his own business name, with a price rise already incorporated. The property was still for sale by my relatives, he hadn’t put any money, no deposit or anything, and had the blatant cheek to be competing against the agents who had the listing.

              • tracey

                How many of the Caucasians were not NZ residents mike?

          • Rosemary McDonald

            “We knew what was going on because we saw it. We were living among it. Many of us had direct experience of the consequences. It pissed me off.”

            Anne, it also pissed off and greatly concerned some in the real estate industry at the time.

            About a year before the 2015 ‘Chinese sounding names’ shitstorm I spent a few ‘waiting for a bite’ hours with a couple of real estate agents holidaying in the Far North. Their office was on the north shore, but they handled sales over the greater Auckland region.

            Business had been good. Very, very good. And while they and their clients were laughing all the way to the bank on the back of totally ridiculous house sale prices, there was growing concern within the industry that there was something not quite right about the sudden influx of seemingly unlimited funds from individuals from mainland China.

            Yes the market was competitive, but there came to be an expectation that no matter what was a realistic top bid on a property…there would be a buyer from mainland China who would bid higher…and often by tens of thousands more than the previous top bid, and win the auction. There seemed to no limit to the funds available.

            There was, for a while, an attitude (and there probably was a racist element to this) of an ‘if they’re dumb enough to pay those prices then why shouldn’t we exploit it’. This wore off, as it was noted that instead of these properties being rented out as used to be the norm with absent owners…because there was often a mortgage to repay …they were being bought with cash and left empty. (New Zealand having trying tenancy rules and frustrating minimum notice to evict regulations…made life difficult when the new owners were ready to develop.)

            On the whole, real estate agents are not stupid and they could see where this trend was heading and which groups were going to ultimately pay the greater price of rampantly upward residential property prices. Renters, and first home buyers. The real estate chains could also see that cashed up Jafas were taking their $$$ out to the provinces and enjoying(for a brief while) the thrill of also having enough cash to outbid the locals. And so it goes on. ( I have also spoken to some of those cashed up Jafas who moved to the provinces…they know now they contributed to their children and grandchildren being unable to buy a home…but at the time they were spooked by the narrative that retiring baby boomers were going to bankrupt the country and that they needed to fund their own retirement.)

            And while there was justified outrage at the lack of solid data to justify the claim that a sudden influx of seemingly limitless mainland Chinese dollars and a totally unregulated market were seriously skewing Auckland (and ultimately New Zealand wide) house prices (which was stupidly promulgated by Labour and shamelessly exploited by National)…there were good reasons for the panic button to be pushed that were temporarily lost when the brown stuff hit the fan.

            The real estate agents I was chatting to that day in 2014 told me that some in the industry were talking about advising the gummint there needed to be some sort of intervention toot sweet. Others in the industry (who were also very well aware that there had been a fundamental shift in the profile of buyers of Auckland residential properties and this could have a negative economic and social impact) argued against advising regulation saying the market would stabilize eventually.

            I wondered, when the shit storm hit in 2015 that provoked such distress, which group withing the real estate industry got the ear of the Labour Party. And ensure another three years of unfettered residential property sales.

            Machiavelli at play?

            • Anne

              Thanks for all that detail Rosemary McDonald. From my own knowledge and experience that’s seems to be what happened.

              The problem is, after the noisy howls of rage when Phil Twyford tried to get a “conversation” underway, I think Labour is doubly shy about bringing it up again. The Labour-led govt. has pledged to introduce legislation to halt the sale of property to off-shore buyers, but the devil will be in the detail. Let’s see what they come up with.

              • weka

                Noisy howls of rage about the racism. Let’s not forget that bit.

                “The Labour-led govt. has pledged to introduce legislation to halt the sale of property to off-shore buyers”

                Not quite. They’re going to restrict sales of existing residential housing stock. Residential, industrial and rural land will still be up for grabs. Which I think tells us some things about the values underpinning Labour’s position.

                • Anne

                  Lets see what they come up with.

                  • weka

                    I thought they’d already said. Is there something more to come? They intend to adjust the OIO handling of rural sales but nothing major from what I remember. Am I missing something?

                    • Macro

                      Yes weka – the problem with the OIO for rural sales has always been that it nothing but a rubber stamp. The rules are perfectly clear – land should not be sold off to foreign ownership unless it can be demonstrated that the new owners will make a significant improvement to its productivity. This has almost never been the case – indeed in my own experience – we sold a property just north of Auckland to a overseas buyer. To my knowledge they have never visited the property since its purchase in 2010 (the wife walked over it before they made the offer and the husband viewed it on google earth). I completed real estate exams and worked briefly as an agent in Auckland around 2000. I viewed the property earlier this year and it has been left to run down dreadfully.
                      When we sold the property my wife and I discussed this – should we accept the offer or accept a lower offer from a NZ buyer? If we rejected the higher offer from the Chinese buyers were we being racist? We did not know what their intentions were with respect to the land which we had cared for for 25 years, and from indications they could have further developed the wetlands and native plantings we had already begun. Had they wanted to sub-divide then under the district plan the only way that could be done was through a wetland of 2 hectares. It is still not clear why they bought the land as nothing has been done. Had the OIO rules been enforced that sale would not have proceeded. (the land was over 5 Hectares)
                      “Any other person or organisation must get consent to buy or lease certain types of land:

                      Rural land larger than 5 hectares”

                    • weka

                      the problem I have with Labour tinkering with the settings is that National can then just tinker them back the other way when next in power. Labour need to be doing something that changes the culture enough that by the time National are in again, NZ is protective of its legislation around land.

                      The rural land one is tricky because some overseas owners are doing a better job with the land than local ones. I can see better solutions to that than what we have now though.

              • Rosemary McDonald

                “The problem is, after the noisy howls of rage when Phil Twyford tried to get a “conversation” underway, I think Labour is doubly shy about bringing it up again.”

                Maybe that was the point of the exercise?

                Rates are tied to current property valuations which are set using sale prices…with massive expenditure required to meet costs of infrastructure to meet increase in population…there will be little will to see property valuations fall.

                Labour/NZF/Greens are going to have to come up with a fairly radical and innovative plan to make an edible omelette out of this pile of cracked eggs.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              The ethnic origin of the speculators is completely irrelevant to the economic and social consequences.

              When some dapper young fellow from Wall St. shorts our housing market, is that going to be any better?

              • mikes

                No it’s not going to be any better, but in this situation it wasn’t the ‘dapper young fellow from Wall St buying the houses… But I agree, the ethnic origin of the speculators is irrelevant. What is relevant is are they a NZ Citizen or permanent resident, are they a trust or company, are they an international student buying on behalf, etc.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  I’m not so sure.

                  Have a look at the graphs etc. Bill linked in comment 9.

                  The emergence of a disparity between housing stock value and domestic borrowing (starting in the mid-2000s) provides plenty of evidence without needing to assess the precise origin of the investments.

                  The dapper young fellow, by the way, borrows the property portfolio, sells as the market falls, waits for it to reach a sufficiently low value, then buys the assets back, hands them back to the owner with an appropriate cut, and keeps the difference.

                  At least, that’s my blundering understanding of “shorting” a market.

        • CLEANGREEN

          yes tracey is right because I was in Kenya when the chinese flood came there, and inside two years kenya had been taken over by chinese bussiness that killed off tradional business operated by the indigenous kenyans.

          Beware the flood of asian migrants if the data cannot identify what is happening here..

          • weka

            See, this is the problem I have. Why are you concerned about Asian migrants and not all the others? When you focus on people migrating here from Asia you make the conversation about race and ethnicity and that has negative consequences for people, including NZers.

            • mikes

              Weka, Cleangreen in their comment should have stated Chinese rather than Asian in their last sentence for sure. An honest mistake maybe / hopefully? Assuming Chinese was the intended word, that makes sense as it was Chinese interests that Cleangreen observed in Kenya.

              • weka

                I would have asked the same thing if they’d said Chinese. Why are you concerned about Chinese migrants and not the others?

                “Assuming Chinese was the intended word, that makes sense as it was Chinese interests that Cleangreen observed in Kenya.”

                I just don’t see how you can focus on that as if there aren’t people from all sorts of nationalities causing problems, unless you want to make it about specific ethnicities.

    • tracey 2.2

      For me, if the issue is foreign buyers, where they all come from is irrelevant in terms of making it about “Asians”. To that end we collect data on the basis of foreign buying, do not divide it into nations, and then act on the data. This will only be a problem if there are some foreign buyers we are happy with and others we are not and there is a clear divide down country lines. But that is revealling too.

      • Psycho Milt 2.2.1

        That’s fine in theory, but if the sources of foreign buyers are suddenly increased by a population of a billion people whose government gives them compelling reasons to want to move their money offshore, that’s one hell of a point source for the influx of money. It is of course possible to identify such a point source and make it a priority target for investigation without reference to the ethnicity of the billion people involved, but in an environment of anti-Chinese racism that’s a big ask.

        • weka

          Why would you need to though? Why not simply take a position of to own land in NZ you have to have to be a citizen or have residency?

          I’m not even sure we need data to do that, because its a sovereignty issue, but if we do need data to make a case for better legislation then why does it need to be about one country?

          • tracey

            This ^^^^

            decide what our position is and then formulate from that. Otherwise, it appears we are legislating to stop the Chinese from buying and why is that worse than any other foreigner buyer? New Zealand Company anyone?

          • Psycho Milt

            Oh, sure – my ideal solution would be that we ban foreign ownership outright because it’s not in our interest. But the “Chinese names” thing was in the context of foreign ownership being permitted but there being reason to suspect it had increased rapidly due to Chinese capital. For sure it’s better not to have that context to start with.

          • Pat

            “I’m not even sure we need data to do that, because its a sovereignty issue, but if we do need data to make a case for better legislation then why does it need to be about one country?”
            I can answer that from my position ( dont claim to speak for anyone else.)

            There are two main reasons why Chinese non resident investment is of great concern…..
            1) the sheer volume available to invest

            2) the drivers for that investment

            While we should measure and monitor where all DFI comes from and ends up in the absence of that data observation /empirical analysis led to the conclussion that the likely main source was mainland China.
            Unfortunately return on investment was not the main driver,rather securing accessible funds outside the reach of the Gov and doing so before restriction, this is not necessarily so for investors from other jurisdictions.


            We could indeed impose a blanket ban on all DFI but that would have major repercussions for the entire economy so a measured and targeted response based on reliable data to achieve the desired outcome, which is a market that is supported by (and largely for) the local economic drivers.

            None of that has anything to do with race or ethnicity.

        • tracey

          “but if the sources of foreign buyers are suddenly increased by a population of a billion people whose government gives them compelling reasons to want to move their money offshore, that’s one hell of a point source for the influx of money.”

          So it is not foreigners buying land in NZ that is an issue but the numbers of them buying land? Is that what you are saying? The problem with that is if you don’t notice a trickle, your carpet has to rot before you know the floorboards are damaged.

          What is the policy? Foreign ownership or not? What are the exceptions if any are required? How are those targetted?

        • mikes

          How can you have “anti Chinese racism” ?? The Chinese are simply people from China, not some separate Asian race, so you’d have to call it anti Asian racism or maybe anti Chinese sentiment?

          • weka

            racism refers to ethnicity and nationality. I suggest you start listening to Chinese people if you want to get up to speed on what kinds of racism they experience.

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    Harkanwal Singh provides valuable insight into how media bias works, although he makes his old colleagues out to be more blunderers than connivers.

    cf: the witless stupidity of whoever made the comment about integration.

  4. Pat 4

    Good post and links. Andre’s note re James Ting Edwards comment was informative and 2 years on still needs answering but I would suggest that IF that was the only approach taken to the issue the public interest wouldnt have occured….does that justify Labour’s or the Herald’s approach?…certainly not, but the question still needs answering.

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    We have almost 3 billion people from this region of the world spread across 20,000km and indeed globally, why do we still lump them all under the meaninglessly broad umbrella term “Asian”? We might as well go back to calling the entire region “The Orient” at this rate.

    People that one might consider as “Asians” almost never ever self-identify as “Asian.” They strongly identify as say, Taiwanese, Korean, Japanese, Singaporean, Thai, etc. and generally don’t ever want to be mixed up with being a member of another group. At most they might occasionally self-describe the entire geographic region that they are in as “Asia” but that’s about it.

    “Asian” is a generic label that white skins apply to others which does not recognise the true diverse identity of the region and the people.

    • I agree. Offensive term steeped in horrible history. I refuse to use the term Asian unless I have too.

    • tracey 5.2

      Great point CV.

    • Meh. “White people” and variants thereof also refer to a range of ethnicities, none of which would self-identify as “White” ahead of French, Australian, Czech or whatever. Everyone knows who we’re talking about when we say Whitey though, for all that the term “does not recognise the true diversity” of the people being referred to.

    • Bill 5.4

      Just like “European” doesn’t recognise the true diverse identity of the region and the people then?

      It’s a rough but useful, geographically based sign-post.

      • Colonial Viper 5.4.1

        Useful for what purposes exactly?

        The English, French, Germans and Italians at least share an alphabet. The Vietnamese, Koreans, Chinese and Japanese do not.

        • Bill

          For discerning geographical origin or location. (I’d have thought that was patently obvious from my previous comment)

          • Colonial Viper

            Discerning geographical location across 6 or 7 time zones anywhere from say Mumbai to Islamabad to Ho Chi Minh to Shenzhen to Kyoto?

            Yes, that’s very useful, like saying someone is “African” is useful in describing their geographical origin or location.

        • marty mars

          Yep it is 1984ish grouping that is pretty meaningless imo.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.5

      White skins is a generic label that CV applies to others 🙄

      • weka 5.5.1

        Obvious from his comment. What are you rolling your eyes at?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          The use of generic terms that don’t recognise diversity.

          • weka

            You object to the use of the term white?

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              See Bill’s comment at 10 regarding the diversity represented by the term. I don’t object to it per se, but It’s a bit rich coming from the guy who was just paying lip service to said diversity in other groups.

              • weka

                Sure, but then I don’t think white people being called white is equivalent to calling people from countries in Asia ‘Asian’. So I’m still not quite sure if you are trying to make a point or just have a go at CV for something.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  The outcomes might be different, the sentiments are the same.

                  • weka

                    No idea what that means, and in the absence of you being willing to clear it up, I’ll take that to mean you were having a go at CV and next time I’ll just moderate directly.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Of course I’m willing to clear it up.

                      The “outcomes” refer to the effects of racism on its targets, the “sentiments” refer to whatever’s going on in the minds of the racists.

                      If I’m “having a go” at anything (as distinct from any person), it’s the absurdity of objecting to a generic label, then turning round and employing one in the next sentence.

                    • Tim

                      In general I think people get way too highly strung about this sort of thing. I’m a little bit in two minds about it though.

                      If you’re just describing someone based on their appearance then I think saying someone looked Asian or European or African or Pacific Islander or describing their skin colour is fine… In the same way you might describe hair colour/style or eye colour.

                      Because in general I think you can pick people with that ancestry/skin colour etc. etc. somewhat accurately just from appearance (obviously it’s not completely accurate). It’s true that a Korean person (or probably any Asian person) can much more easily tell you if someone looked Korean rather than Thai but for people who aren’t as familiar with those groups it’s much harder. And should we just accept that some people aren’t as familiar with some groups and instead of stigmatise them try and educate them/get on with them rather than brand them racist?

                      But for describing anything in more in depth like trying to describe why things are the way they are or generalise a group of people then obviously terms like Asian and European and African and Indian aren’t going to really cut it.

                      Also for what it’s worth I think the discussion about Chinese sounding names was important because it gave voice to concerns a lot of people had about NZ (Auckland in particular) losing its distinct identity and culture with the influx of money/people from overseas. Probably helped lead to reducing immigration which will be good for housing too.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Oh, and ahem…

    • mikes 5.6

      You could say the same about the term ‘European’. White people get called Europeans even if they’ve never left the Southern Hemisphere..

  6. Awesome analysis. The microclimates for racism are everywhere including newsrooms, including here.

    The Asian sounding names bullshit is a black mark for labour imo and as Harkanwal states it achieved the goal. The alternative commentary aroun d this issue has been outstanding – shows the quality of our anti racist journalists.

    • NewsFlash 6.1

      It did initiate a discussion in the Govt at the time when it refused to anything at all, the reality was the there was a high degree of accuracy in the presumption

      NZ has had the fastest house price growth in the world, twice that of Australia, the nearest competitor, the bottom of that list is Japan and Germany, which are almost stagnant, no prizes for guessing why that is.

      A roof over your head is probably THE MOST important thing in every bodies life except perhaps food, no country should allow the level of SPECULATION that occurred, there will long term problems to resolve to correct this HUGE mistake.

  7. patricia bremner 7

    China was concerned about money leaving China because some was from their own criminal element laundering cash.

    Labour were clumbsy, not racist.

    National played the three monkeys. Hear no evil. etc.

    Our banking system will accept anyone’s money by and large and that should change.

    The panama papers have taught us that people are always looking for loopholes to exploit.

    Governments should be protecting their populations from this, not turning a blind eye while some get rich and others can’t compete for finite goods.

    If authorities can check your ‘phone and email, they can check bank drafts or bank accounts.

    It is the will to do it of course. If they are benefiting from a rising tide… What tide?

    J.K. made 21 million selling in a bloated market.

  8. savenz 8

    Independent of any ethnicity there is a major problem with ‘demand’ on houses and social services and lowering in real terms of wages in NZ.

    It used to be completely normal for responsible government to have a strong immigration criteria so that it did not impact negatively on citizens of the country. Labour used to have language tests for example.

    Under neoliberalism it is now the trend to import/export people in order to increase profits and avoid local training.

    This impacts on housing and social services and creates a Ponzi scheme because the migrants I know face the same problems with low wages, high cost of living and it then (once gaining residency and citizenship) leave NZ to get better conditions.

    The flow on from this is also other countries are becoming sick and tired of newly minted NZ citizens using the hard won fairly open visa requirements for existing NZ citizens and residents and are closing them off for everyone. Now Kiwis can’t even work overseas themselves to seek better wages and conditions while newly minted citizens have their second passport to fall back on. They also often have access to lower interest rates or family money when buying property.

    Neoliberalism is misusing immigration to the point where it’s going the opposite way and creating the closing off of countries.

    If you don’t protect citizens rights you will start getting social disorder, Trump, Brexit, rise in Germany.

    Going on about racism out of context and pretending immigration is not an issue, is going to do the opposite. Whether you are a USA in China or a Chinese in USA you will probably feel discriminated against.

    Pretty much everyone is a migrant and started out somewhere else, but in NZ immigration has been used in a deliberate way to give a short term boost of money and keep the government in power, while not increasing productivity, not increasing training and experience levels in the locals and leaving much greater problems and ultimately less wealth and on our way to becoming a banana republic.

    NZ’ers are very tolerant and welcoming for the most part, but if you start marginalising your own citizens in favour of cheaper, richer, more experienced ones then what is the long term plan for the existing ones? The trickle down myth?

    • Ed 8.1

      ‘‘The trickle down myth?’

      The trickle down lie.

    • tracey 8.2

      Importation of migrants is to keep wages low.

    • tracey 8.3

      “NZ’ers are very tolerant and welcoming for the most part,” I think this may be a myth too… scratch the surface…

    • weka 8.4

      “Going on about racism out of context and pretending immigration is not an issue, is going to do the opposite.”

      Not sure what you mean there. How is the post talking about racism out of context? Or where is someone else doing that?

      I’m not shy about wanting better controls on immigration, so you can use me as an example of someone who thinks we have serious problems around that and who also pushes back against racism. They’re not mutually exclusive, which is why I’m moderating the thread tightly and pointing out that we can’t talk about migration if we don’t address racism. They’re hand in hand.

  9. Bill 9

    David Hood also has a good piece on Public Address from 2015 showing that, whereas a country’s household debt usually matches house value, there is a a 300 billion dollar gap in the case of NZ.

    And as the article points out, given that 300 billion is apparently coming from elsewhere, building houses won’t really do much good because the demand side of the housing market is unknown if the market’s open to overseas buyers.

    I guess that may be getting dealt with if the governments recent legislation on overseas buyers actually works in the way we’ve been told it will.

    Anyway. many of the comments below the article are also worth a read.

    • That’s what always pissed me off about National’s approach of “Oh we just need to gut the RMA so more houses get built and demand will be satisfied.” If the population able to buy NZ property is the entire planet, level of demand is an unknown quantity but can be assumed incapable of being filled by building a few more houses.

      • Bill 9.1.1

        I think there’s a reasonable idea of how many rental houses are required mind.

        But then, that’s not “the Kiwi dream” or some-such.

      • And that is why foreign ownership needs to be banned. Not restricted, banned.

        I’m pretty sure that the majority of people actually want that but the government won’t do it. Instead, they’ll sign us up to the TPPA and make things ever worse for the majority of people living in NZ.

      • tracey 9.1.3

        National was never interested in the demand side of the argument of supply and demand. It could have influenced demand but chose instead to fuel the market with more houses for the wealthy. I use that term specifically cos most homes being built are not int he ludicrously high “affordable bracket”. National has always favoured developers. Why else exclude them from personal liability in the wake of the leaky homes? Just builders and Designers got that. So, as the post-earthquake problems arise, builders in the gun again, but not developers holding the purse strings and driving the building decisions.

        Any excuse to make the Resource Management Act, the Developers Philanthropy Act.

        • Descendant Of Sssmith

          “National was never interested in the demand side of the argument of supply and demand.”

          Nah they were very interested in it – they were well aware of the dampening effect of state housing on demand and so proceeded to reduce the number of houses to increase demand for private ones, they were well aware that increased immigration would increase demand and drive both demand for rentals and for buying homes up, they knew well that removing stamp duty and lowering personal tax rates for the well off would mean they could pay more for houses on the market, they knew incentives to landlords through the tax system and the denial of such support for council housing would start to have councils start to look at whether they could afford to keep council housing and many didn’t, they knew the persistence they had in conveying ideologically driven ideas about councils should only do rates, rubbish and sewerage and the election of citrats to councils would also push toward councils reducing housing.

          All these thing, each and everyone was designed in increase demand. They are not stupid they know exactly what increased demand brings.

  10. Bill 10

    For a long time I’ve felt that a fair bit of racism in NZ is linked to it* being a dominant culture.

    Often enough I’ve heard how Maori are just whiners and complainers and how they are advantaged in comparison to others.

    That very much accords with the attitude of many English people when referring to the Irish, Scottish and Welsh.

    And those same English people, just like many Kiwis, genuinely just don’t “get it” when their stuff is pointed out to them.

    And yes, the British context ‘merely’ contains bigotry and discrimination seeing as how most Irish, Scottish and Welsh can walk down a street and their origins are invisible…until they open their mouths 😉

    *pakeha NZ

  11. DH 11

    I find the term ‘racist’ a little too overused. It’s often helpful to refer back to its definition;

    “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”

    Now for Labour’s Chinese name issue to be racist there would need to be some evidence, or at least some indications, that the (Caucasian) authors of it thought they were superior to Chinese. Was that evidence evident?

    I’m not convinced NZ has serious racism problems. I see it more about culturalism; people reacting to others who behave differently than them. We all practice that to one degree or another, even within our own race.

    • Bill 11.1

      Well. Should we begin with the history of racially motivated and informed colonialism?

      The dominant culture (or whatever) doesn’t get to just put that aside as though it didn’t happen. And whether you can acknowledge it or not, the legacy of colonialism continues to impact on people from whatever side of the divide – shaping perceptions and opinions on a multitude of levels.

      edit – see my comment here that signposts some parallels.

      • DH 11.1.1

        I don’t think so Bill. I think we should begin with the definition of racism. Colonialism is a different word with its own meaning.

        • weka

          I agree having a shared understanding of what racism is is important and a good starting point. Most people doing anti-racism work use a broader definition than the one you quoted above.

          I also think any working definition of racism needs to be cognisant of the views of people being affected by racism not just from those who are of the dominant culture or who react badly to being called racist (which is how many conversations here go).

          • tracey

            The UN has opted to include race and ethnicity together.

            I think DH’s definition is from wikipedia. However I think racism is far more nuanced than their definition allowed.

        • Bill

          I am naturally biologically superior, and that justifies my colonisation of you, your culture, your land and whatever else that I determine my biological superiority entitles me to.

          That separated out enough for you?

    • weka 11.2

      “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”

      Not sure where that definition is from, but it’s a fairly narrow one in terms of contemporary understandings about racism. Racism isn’t just personal, it’s also institutional and systemic.

      There is no such thing as race, so I agree that culture and ethnicity are the core issues, but racism is the term we know and use.

      “Now for Labour’s Chinese name issue to be racist there would need to be some evidence, or at least some indications, that the (Caucasian) authors of it thought they were superior to Chinese. Was that evidence evident?”

      Not necessarily. Racism can be institutional and systemic. It can also be unconscious. Racism isn’t only an individual thinking that the person they see with a different skin colour is less than themselves. It covers a whole range of the ways in which people are treated because of their ethnicity/culture.

      So for instance, I have have no idea whether those in Labour involved in that issue were personally racist or acting in an institutionally racist way, or both. That is something Labour should be looking at. Likewise the Herald. The rest of NZ needs to get its head around that stuff too. But rather than looking at what Goff and co were thinking or believing (who would know?) how about we look at their behaviour and how it impacted on people.

      If we want to understand racism in that context we need to listen to people from the ethnicities being affected. They’re pointing to some glaring problems. In this post, it was how Labour used the data despited being told there were problems with it, and it was how the Herald was unable to understand its own white bias despite having a very skilled data journalist on board who was able to bring the non-dominant culture perspective.

      Had Labour consulted anyone skilled in anti-racism work the issues would have been pointed out. It beggars belief that in this point in our history Labour didn’t do that. At the very least that is racism by neglect and willful ignorance.

      • DH 11.2.1

        It’s called a dictionary weka 🙂

        Seriously, that’s where we need to start from when making accusations of racism and other such terms.

        “Not necessarily. Racism can be institutional and systemic. It can also be unconscious. Racism isn’t only an individual thinking that the person they see with a different skin colour is less than themselves. It covers a whole range of the ways in which people are treated because of their ethnicity/culture. ”

        For it it be systemic the majority in the dominant race group would need to be racists. We’re not the old South Africa, we don’t have apartheid here or anything remotely resembling it.

        Btw you need to remove /culture. Racism is about race, not culture.

        “Had Labour consulted anyone skilled in anti-racism work the issues would have been pointed out. It beggars belief that in this point in our history Labour didn’t do that. At the very least that is racism by neglect and willful ignorance.”

        No offence weka but that’s pretty darned pompous. When someone can show Twyford believes himself to be superior to Chinese then you can call him racist. Until then his accusers are false accusers.

        • weka

          “Seriously, that’s where we need to start from when making accusations of racism and other such terms.”

          Why? Why not use definitions developed by people who work in the area?

          “For it it be systemic the majority in the dominant race group would need to be racists. We’re not the old South Africa, we don’t have apartheid here or anything remotely resembling it.”

          Well NZ’s systems were built by racists, so it follows that we need to change them.

          “Racism is about race, not culture.”

          There is no such thing as race in the way you imply. Homo sapiens, one ‘race’.

          “No offence weka but that’s pretty darned pompous. When someone can show Twyford believes himself to be superior to Chinese then you can call him racist. Until then his accusers are false accusers.”

          I have no idea about any of the Labour people involved and whether they are personally racist. You already know that I am using a definition of racism that includes systemic. Labour were institutionally racist, it’s not that hard to demonstrate a number of ways in which that was true, but given you want to work within a very narrow definition of racism there doesn’t seem much point in doing so.

          • DH

            “Why? Why not use definitions developed by people who work in the area?

            Are you winding me up weka? It’s a word with a defined meaning and the only definition for it is the literal one. Anyone who defines it differently has no credibility.

            • weka

              That strikes me as a self-serving argument.

              In the real world (as opposed to the abstract world of a dictionary) racism has a range of meaning that can’t be adequately addressed by semantics.

              • DH

                I don’t get your point there. You seem to be saying that if an action doesn’t fit the definition then you alter the definition to fit the action.

                Yours is the self-serving argument is it not?

                • weka

                  I’m saying that people have experienced and observed racism in lots of ways over considerable time and developed broader definitions than the dictionary one you quoted. I’m further saying that those broader definitions are more useful because they’re based on real world experience and analysis, not abstract thought.

                  “Yours is the self-serving argument is it not?”

                  Probably, but seeing as how my argument is an anti-racism one I think it’s moot whether it serves me or not.

                  • DH

                    You do know where you’re going with that linee don’t you?

                    “What is racism?”

                    “Racism is whatever I say it is.”

                    • weka

                      No, I’m really not. I’m going with ‘racism is a range of things as experienced by people on the receiving end of it who have developed analyses and politics and ways of explaining it over long periods of time, and also people who don’t experience racism but recognise and observe it and feel an ethical duty to do anti-racism work and have likewise developed definitions and analyses from those experiences and from listening to the people in the first group’.

                      In other words, racism is what experts in the field say it is. I have no idea who wrote your dictionary, but their definition is inadequate to the task of talking about racism and addressing it.

                    • DH

                      Time to call it a draw?

          • Tim

            Weka don’t you think it’s important to draw a firm line between ethnicity and culture? To lump them together can cause a big problem because obviously some cultures are different than others in important ways – for example it might be in many circumstances entirely reasonable to argue that another culture is inferior (arguing humanists have a better culture than those who worship Charles Manson or engage in cannibalism) but to argue another ethnicity is inferior seems slightly ridiculous, superficial and petty.

            Also one of the reasons I wouldn’t always be comfortable using the definitions of the people who work in the area is that they have a vested interest in it – their livelihood and sense of worth depends on it.

        • tracey

          Why is your definition the definitive one? You do not get to determine the parameters of the debate by making people stick to your chosen definition and interpretation thereof?

          “For it it be systemic the majority in the dominant race group would need to be racists. ” Er no. It needs to be a view held by those wielding the power to make things systemic or change them. e.g. British in NZ in 1840 were 1% of the population but oversaw legislation that was, racist.

          • DH

            It’s not my definition tracey.

            • tracey

              It is “a” definition DH not “the” definition as you based your assumption on.

              • mikes

                It’s ‘the’ definition from all of the recognized and accepted (Western) dictionaries. You can define it however you like, but the vast majority of people accept the definition given in volumes such as ‘The Oxford English Dictionary’ , ‘Mirriam Webster’ , etc, etc.

                In terms of what most people understand racism to mean, contrary to what you believe, it is ‘the’ definition.

                • weka

                  You can assert that all you like, but the evidence suggests otherwise.


                  Institutional racism (also known as structural racism, state racism or systemic racism) is racial discrimination by governments, corporations, religions, or educational institutions or other large organizations with the power to influence the lives of many individuals. Stokely Carmichael is credited for coining the phrase institutional racism in the late 1960s. He defined the term as “the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin”.[56]


                  You can of course choose to ignore the broader definitions, but you don’t get to define what racism is because you have access to a dictionary. To do so means you deny a whole range of experiences of racism.

                  • Bill


                    Social Darwinism claimed there existed genetically distinct populations of individuals within the same species – ie, races within the human species.

                    Is there structural and institutional racism today? Yes. Absolutely.

                    And discrimination can take place between any two cultures, ethnicities and/or their institutions etc.

                    But a cursory glance at history and the theories of race (eg – Social Darwinism) that informed much of colonisation gives a hint as to why racism has a very specific location and meaning. It’s impact continues to this day, but can’t be just applied to any ethnic or religious or whatever instance of discrimination.

                    • weka

                      I don’t feel qualified to have an opinion about whether racism for instance exists in China between different ethnicities, but I can’t see any compelling reason why it doesn’t. That Western heritage racism exists doesn’t mean that other racisms don’t.

                      It’s also my values that people who are discriminated against get to set the parameters on what that means, so as a Pākehā I’m going to take my cues from other people about their own ethnicity and what racism that comes with that. The theoretical aspect you are talking about is interesting and pertinent but as I’ve said elsewhere I don’t see how it can be definitive on it own.

                      What would be an instance of discrimination against someone on the basis of ethnicity that isn’t racism? (still not quite following you there).

                    • Bill

                      Unless there is or was a doctrine or philosophy underpinning a claim to superiority being determined by biology, then there isn’t racism.

                      That claim (to be biologically superior) has never, to my knowledge, been made by any other ethnic or cultural grouping.

                      That doesn’t lessen or diminish anyone’s oppression, whether its roots be political, ethnic or whatever else. In fact if anything, it compels us to investigate underlying causes and factors in lieu of casually throwing it in a box marked “racist”.

                      On the flip side (as I suggested elsewhere), broadening the definition of racism beyond its biological roots and applying it to other times, peoples and places, dilutes, diminishes and/or denies the nature of racism and its place in history, and by extension smudges understandings of colonialism and liberal capitalism.

                    • weka

                      I still don’t know what you mean by oppression because of ethnicity that isn’t racism. Can you please give some examples?

                    • Bill

                      Ethnicity isn’t biological.

                      Claims to ethnic or cultural or religious superiority aren’t based on pseudo-scientific claims about biology.

                      Racism is a theory about biological superiority and the construction of biologically determined hierarchies.

                      So European settlers shooting Aborigines because Aborigines were considered to be biologically inferior was racist.

                      The ethnic cleansing in Rwanda of Tutsi by Hutu wasn’t, as there was no claim to inherent biological superiority.

                      And so it goes.

                      Because of the roots of racism, only white people/institutions were racist and only white people/institutions can be racist. Any move (however well intentioned) to bring others into that camp is essentially assimilationist and dilutes and/or denies the central tenet of what racism is or was and the role it has played.

          • mikes

            Yes, that was in 1840. There is no systemic racism in 2017 New Zealand. I challenge you to show me one piece of current legislation that is racist. You won’t be able to. Hey, that’s a good thing right? We’ve managed to completely rid ourselves of systemic racism.

            [I made it pretty clear in the post that there would be a low tolerance for comments that used tone or language that has the effect of excluding others. Repeatedly posting assertions that deny the existence of systemic and institutional racism, or that try to define racism against the evidence, and thus deny the experiences of a great many people, crosses the line. If you want to stay in this debate you need to start making arguments rather than mere assertions, and to save us all a lot of trouble you need to back up what you are saying with evidence – weka]

            • weka

              Foreshore and Seabed Act, which literally removed the rights of Māori to access the courts. But systemic racism doesn’t have to be backed up legislation. Policy, culture and social attitudes often suffice.

            • weka

              please see mod note above.

        • tracey

          If he wasn’t being racist, Twyford would have said, “all foreign buyers are a problem,”” But labour didn’t they focussed very closely on people with Chinese names

          • DH

            Honestly? I don’t know the man, for all I know he might be a closet aryan, but I took it at face value which was an attempt to discover the true level of foreign buyers of housing in NZ.

            I daresay he ‘focussed’ on Chinese because they were the names you’d be able to identify as being (possibly) foreign. Aussie & European, Yank etc names largely sound like locals so the data wouldn’t have any means of identifying possible foreign buyers from those countries.

            At the time National were refusing to release data on foreign buyers so Labour had to do their own research and make do with what they could find. Who is really at fault there, Labour or National?

            • weka

              in other words Labour chose Chinese sounding names intentionally, and that led to another round of anti-Chinese discussions and debate in NZ.

              National is responsible for its own actions, not those of Labour.

              Have you read the post, Brown’s post and watched the video? Because it’s pretty clear that Labour were told there were problems with the data they were using and they chose to ignore that. The Herald too.

              • DH

                Yeah I’ve read it and watched the video, wouldn’t be commenting here if I hadn’t.

                I didn’t disagree that Labours Chinese names affair wasn’t stupid. But stupidity doesn’t assume racism… it’s often just plain stupidity.

          • NewsFlash

            But they did just happen to represent 40% of all buyers, new citizens or not.

          • mikes

            That’s because it was perfectly clear to anyone without blinkers on that the majority of the foreign buyers at auctions were of Chinese descent. Be an ostrich all you want, but observable fact are observable facts, whether they hurt your feelings or not.

            [Tracey didn’t say anything about her feelings. Please don’t make shit up, and lift your game if you want to stay in this debate – weka]

            • weka

              Why does being of Chinese descent matter? Wouldn’t the issue be whether one was a NZ resident/citizen or not?

            • mikes

              Point taken.

              Sorry Tracey, my bad. ‘hurt your feelings’ should have been ‘fit in with your views on the matter’ or something along those lines. Ironically, I could have been letting my feelings (emotions) at the time of writing have more influence on me than they should have had…

    • tracey 11.3

      So why not target all foreign buyers? Cos some of them have similar names to “us” so we can’t tell? Lazy and mischievous at best, racism at worst. You also need to add context to your definition, Labour’s place in the polls

      “14. We recognize that colonialism has led to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and that Africans and people of African descent, and people of Asian descent and indigenous peoples were victims of colonialism and continue to be victims of its consequences. We acknowledge the suffering caused by colonialism and affirm that, wherever and whenever it occurred, it must be condemned and its reoccurrence prevented. We further regret that the effects and persistence of these structures and practices have been among the factors contributing to lasting social and economic inequalities in many parts of the world today;

      16. We recognize that xenophobia against non-nationals, particularly migrants,
      refugees and asylum-seekers, constitutes one of the main sources of contemporary
      racism and that human rights violations against members of such groups occur widely in the context of discriminatory, xenophobic and racist practices;

      It seems to me if the only foreign buyers being discussed or against whom some fear is held, are Chinese, then that is racism.

      • DH 11.3.1

        Tracey it wasn’t racist in the slightest. The real concern was that it might foment dark thoughts in those pre-inclined to be racist. I guess it’s a valid concern but I found it a bit patronising.

        • tracey

          So, Labour’s concern was not to show foreign buyers are a problem and they decided to focus on chinese looking names to do it? Not racist you say, just stupid?

          • weka

            Personally I’m going for stupid, institutionally racist, and a mix of unconsciously racist and outright racist amongst the individuals. Just like NZ at large. I also expect that there are people within Labour who thought it was a bad idea. I really hope there are people within Labour who also understood in what ways it was racist.

            • Tim

              Okay Weka I’m not sure if you’ll answer this since it’s not directly about the Chinese sounding names debate, but it would be helpful to me to know this..

              Do you think individually on average NZ Europeans are more racist than Maori, Pacific, Indian or Chinese people in NZ? Not focusing so much on institutional stuff here, just individual racism/beliefs/prejudices.

        • weka

          “The real concern was that it might foment dark thoughts in those pre-inclined to be racist. I guess it’s a valid concern but I found it a bit patronising.”

          And yet when you listen to Chinese people in NZ, they say that it affected them.

      • mikes 11.3.2

        ‘colonialism ust be condemned..’

        FFS.. Sure, there were wrongdoings due to colonialism, that needed to be and some still need to be, put right. But to say it must be condemned whenever and wherever it occured is ridiculous. Without colonization our great little country wouldn’t even be here today in any form other than that of stone age tribes surviving a best they can.

        To condemn everything about colonialism is to condemn our own existence.

        Believe it or not colonialism bought some good things (way more than bad) with it as well… Like…. the wheel, s an obvious example. No offense intended but I would call you ungrateful.

        [please stop and read the moderations. There is almost no tolerance in this thread for personalising comments. For obvious reasons (see note in the Post). Putting you in moderation until I see a response to this note here now – weka]

        • Matthew Whitehead

          Colonialism isn’t the same thing as coming to New Zealand intending to genuinely abide by the Treaty, or being a descendent of those who engaged in colonialist behaviour but wanting to do better and honour the principles of the Treaty that give people like me a right to be here, Mikes.

          It is a system in which we (that may include many indigenous people, too) assume that the things societies originating from Europe did well in (such as technology, as per your example) are more valuable than the things indigenous societies they were colonizing did well at, such as Kaitiakitanga, (stewardship/guardianship) the feeling of being connected to the local land, and ecological wisdom, when they are not necessarily so. (despite making their way to NZ by boat, Māori introduced less invasive species than Pākehā and have a better record at protecting indigenous species, with only one perhaps hunted to extinction before our the arrival of people we’d nowadays call Tangata Tiriti)

          It is a system in which we assume colonial forms of governance and society were inherently superior, (despite the failing of early colonial governance in New Zealand) and ignore the positives of the existing social structures. Opposing colonialism doesn’t mean that we have to chuck out or dismiss the value of everything we brought with us when our ancestors immigrated to NZ, or abolish Parliament in favour of appointing new local chiefs. But it does mean we need to be open to re-assessing our attitudes from perspectives that aren’t centred in european social norms, and that we should make an effort not to participate in structures of racism, and we have to be willing to do work that positively engages with the social conventions, history, and values of Māori and other pacific people in the context of New Zealand, or native peoples around the world in a more general context.

          • weka

            That is very good.

            Which makes me think about how the Brits could have come here in a non-colonial way. Has that ever happened?

    • The definition isn’t helpful because “racist” is often used as an informal contraction for “racial discrimination”.

      Regardless of whether or not you are convinced, New Zealand has well documented substantive racism.

    • savenz 11.5

      exactly DH – I’m not sure that many people think that their race is superior in NZ. They are not racist.

      Discrimination is different but can be used positively. Such as having places for Maori on courses or helping local communities keep jobs.

      Trade deals like TPPA think that positive discrimination is bad – mostly because in a world without positive discrimination the rich and powerful have the massive advantage and then the whole world is their oyster to exploit.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 11.5.1

        I think the majority of us exhibit racist behaviour from time to time and we’re too proud to admit it. “Not being as bad as Kyle Chapman” isn’t much of an aspiration.

      • tracey 11.5.2

        I think people who are so convinced they are not racist might just be.

  12. Fang Zhou 12

    It is a long time since I have posted here, as I got sick of the racist and even worst, the unbelievably ignorant comments on ‘Asians’ and Chinese and China. I am Chinese. I have been here over 10 years.

    China is maybe the worse colonial power on earth today. Xinjiang. Xizang. The autonomous areas. These people are ruled over by the Community Party and Han Zu (which I am). They speak languages other than Mandarin. They are ethnically diverse (Uighurs for example are Turk, and Muslim). Take these colonies away from China and China would be tiny.

    Bill, your views are ignorant if you think that racism or imperialism is a white or western thing. It is not!

    • tracey 12.1

      Of course it’s not. It is when a race behaves as superior to another in its systems, laws and behaviour so as to disadvantage the “lesser” or to sheet home advantages for the “greater”.

      The UN has decided not to separate ethnicity and race. I suspect this is because of the arguments we start to see here. White folks also can be treated poorly but usually by other white folks and under the guise of religion or ethinicity etc.

    • Colonial Viper 12.2

      People who think white skins invented racism, tribalism and imperialism are only looking back three, maybe four hundred years tops, and then only from a euro-centric perspective.

      As for China, you can be assured that they will not be ceding any territories soon, and won’t be letting western organisations fund any colour revolutions within their borders.

      • tracey 12.2.1

        You make a good point but whites being racist dates back a few thousand years.

        • RedLogix

          If your definition of ‘racist’ is something like ‘I have a preference and comfort with the cultural and social cohort I grew up with and forms part of my identity’ … then we are all racist.

          If however you mean ‘I believe my cultural and social cohort is spiritually, morally and ethically better than all others, and this gives us the collective right to impose our values, our presence and economic dominance on all other inferior forms’ …. this narrows the field down considerably.

          • tracey

            Not as much as some here think it does. Some are choosing to make racism only about what an individual thinks ( which requires mindreading) rather than all tge ways racism manifests itself.

      • Bill 12.2.2

        Can you give some examples of cultures or ethnicities where the people of that ethnicity or culture touted themselves as being biologically superior to all the rest of humanity?

        • weka

          That’s not the sole definition of racism though. And Chinese people (or whoever) are entitled to define racism as it’s meaningful in their own cultures and countries.

          • Bill

            As you said elsewhere, ‘racism’ is a kind of bogus term insofar as there is only the human race. That last bit’s a biological fact, yes?

            And as far as I know, there has only been one instance of a group purporting themselves to be race apart from or above the human race – who essentially denied the existence of the human race by breaking it down into a hierarchy of races with themselves positioned at the apex.

            And who then used that biologically determined ‘position’ as a justification for them unleashing themselves and their ways on the world at large.

            • weka

              I didn’t say racism is a bogus term. I meant that we can’t use the term literally because there is no such thing as race. The term itself is still very useful. It has come to us through the evolution of the English language but I don’t think it’s likely we are going to replace it at this time.

              Racism has a broader definition than the biological based-one you are talking about. If we were to use that one, then much of the anti-racism work being done would be undermined.

              Your analysis is on point and useful in lots of ways, I just don’t see the need to limit definitions of racism to that one particular kind.

              I’m also mindful of taking cues on definitions of racism from people who experience racism the most.

              • Bill

                Racism is founded on supposed biological difference, not limited to that though.

                So if I’m expressing bigotry towards Catholics, it’s ‘just’ bigotry unless I’ve shoe-horned some “truth” about the essential biological inferiority of Catholics into the mix – at which point the bigotry is racist.

                edit – and that “truth” need only be embedded in historical events for it to have effect.

                • weka

                  “Racism is founded on supposed biological difference, not limited to that though.”

                  I’d agree with that.

                  Catholicism isn’t an ethnicity (although it’s definitely cultural). So in NZ I think one would be hard pressed to argue that bigotry against Catholics is racist. But in the British Isles* it’s a bit different right? Because of the overlap with nationality and cultural ethnicity.

                  *or whatever the term is that covers England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

                  However I’d also say that when someone is being directly and overtly racist, they’re not necessarily standing there with an analysis of biological superiority. Most NZers would say they definitely don’t believe in that. Which takes us to the bigger picture of systemic racism and socialisation into racism. As you say founded in historical ideas about actual race but I find it more useful to talk about systemic and institutional racism as a thing in its own right.

                  I think there are specific things about the racism that evolved out of the Western nations that we need to look at for sure. Just not sure that that means that other ethnically based prejudices aren’t racism.

                  • Bill

                    So this is just before I run.

                    But it crosses my mind (this is in relation to institutional and systemic racism) that if our current institutions – that emerged from and because of a racist past – start to suggest that racism pertains to a broad panoply of ethnic and cultural discriminations, then it’s a nice form of institutional denial that we can all feed into.

                    In that instance racism becomes reduced to a “they did/do it too” and history and its ongoing effects get denied and ‘swept under the carpet’ as it were.

                    Just a thought.

    • Bill 12.3

      Social darwinism emerged in the 1800s and was used to well, I’ll just cut and paste with emphasis.

      The theory was used to support laissez-faire capitalism and political conservatism. Class stratification was justified on the basis of “natural” inequalities among individuals, for the control of property was said to be a correlate of superior and inherent moral attributes such as industriousness, temperance, and frugality. Attempts to reform society through state intervention or other means would, therefore, interfere with natural processes; unrestricted competition and defense of the status quo were in accord with biological selection. The poor were the “unfit” and should not be aided; in the struggle for existence, wealth was a sign of success. At the societal level, social Darwinism was used as a philosophical rationalization for imperialist, colonialist, and racist policies, sustaining belief in Anglo-Saxon or Aryan cultural and biological superiority.

      I’ve never argued that imperialism is or was an exclusively “white or western thing”. And I’ve never argued that various expressions of bigotry or discrimination are limited to any given ethnic or cultural grouping.

      But the concept of race (ie, social darwinism and racism) as a justification for discrimination and bigotry has very specific roots and historical significance.

      • RedLogix 12.3.1

        “The Chinese nation is a great nation; it has been through hardships and adversity but remains indomitable. The Chinese people are a great people; they are industrious and brave and they never pause in pursuit of progress,”


        It’s entirely possible to spin this speech according to your biases; but without question the underlying theme is the ‘greatness of the Chinese people’ and how ‘it was time for his nation to transform itself into “a mighty force” that could lead the world on political, economic, military and environmental issues.’

        If it was Donald Trump giving this speech ‘making American great again’, we’d have no trouble detecting the underlying chauvinist assumptions.

        • Bill

          And where’s the reference or inference (historical or otherwise) of biological superiority in any of that?

          Because without that, we might be talking of things like chauvinism, and/or bigotry and/or discrimination and/or whatever else, which are all constituent components of racism when it gets expressed for sure – but we aren’t talking racism.

          • RedLogix

            Well given that I simply cannot recall anyone here at TS ever openly asserting a biological basis for the superiority of any race, white or otherwise, maybe we should just stop using the word altogether?

      • Fang Zhou 12.3.2

        Bill, that definition of Social Darwinism applies perfectly to the New China I grew up in. The system was always a mix of free enterprise capitalism with a all powerful central body (the Community Party).

        There is no question that there is a racial basis to New China that sees those in Xinjiang and Xizang as being inferior and worthy of colonisation.

        • Bill

          Culturally, aesthetically and in whatever other ways inferior – or biologically inferior?

          And if they are biologically inferior, then what marks and/or explains the biological superiority of those making the charge?

          • Fang Zhou

            I was taught (and it is still taught today in China) that Han Zu are the only pure race on earth.

            Europeans in particular were viewed as inferior as they were a result of centuries of breeding amongst diverse people. We were also taught that China is the oldest civilisation on earth.

            Look in China school books today you will still see this taught as an absolute truth (in China all trutgs are absolute!).

            Do you not consider these teachings to be of a biological racial superiority?

            • David Mac

              I think it’s lashings of flavoured patriotism blended in with a viewpoint most of us are guilty of holding at times ‘My way is best’.

              • tracey

                Or racism as it is generally known except by those bending tgemselves and tge world over backwards to avoid the label

            • Bill

              Well, I could look at that in terms of Protestant families disowning those who marry Catholics (and visa versa). There’s a certain sense of cultural or religious “purity” sits behind that shit. And I know there are Protestants who absolutely look down on Catholics; who see them as inferior.

              But then, there’s no theory of biology underpinning it – so the decision may well be born of bigotry and whatever else, but not racism.

              But here’s the thing.

              If the Protestant family was disowning a son or daughter because they were marrying a black person, then because of historical context, it could be decision born of racism. And if the black person was Catholic, then racism and bigotry.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            …what marks and/or explains the biological superiority…?

            Strictly speaking, nothing: the notion of ‘race’ has no factual basis. It’s just something that people use to rationalise prejudice. It could be the shape of earlobes or whether you have an “outy” navel.

            • Bill

              Yes. I know. But as I’ve saying up and down this thread, there was a group of people who decided there was foundation to an idea of biological superiority and they used that “understanding” in a number of ways.

              And for a number of reasons, the consequences ripple down through the generations.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Isn’t that the same phenomenon as Fang Zhou outlines at

                • Bill

                  As I responded (above), I’m just not seeing where notions of biological superiority necessarily come into play in what Fang Zhou said.

                  If they were there, you’d expect some overt reference somewhere in much the same way as provided by Social Darwinism for Anglo Saxon/Aryan supremacy.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    The term ‘pure race’ is a pretty big hint. Assuming it’s an accurate representation of what is “taught”, that is. Does it say that in schoolbooks, or is it more the sort of thing a sub-group of nationalists tell one another?

                    European colonialism fits the former description

                    Perhaps I’m beginning to see your point. The defining feature of racism by your definition is that it has state backing?

                    • Bill

                      The defining feature of racism by your definition is that it has state backing?

                      The idea of biologically determined superiority (racism) had mainstream philosophical, (pseudo) scientific and political backing. And it fed into and was reinforced by dominant paradigms (social, political and economic).

                      And became a major plank driving, excusing and generally underpinning colonialisation and its attendant genocides.

                      Today, it’s legacy is all around us and still acts on us.

                      Other claims to superiority or exclusivity fall more into categories that might be described as “pedigree” versus “mongrel” or “us and them” and justified by appeals to culture or history or whatever with all the attendant possibility for ethnic friction, sectarianism etc.

                      But those claims do not revolve around some suggestion of biological determinism naturally and inescapably placing “whoever” within some supposed hierarchy of human races.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke


                      Without the …mainstream philosophical, (pseudo) scientific and political backing it would have been just another group of angry bigots winding one another up.

                      How does the latter become the former? Follow the money: kleptocrats (eg: the East India Company) looking for more resources to acquire.

                      So it matters a great deal whether any alleged racial purity propaganda finds its way into schoolbooks.

                    • Bill

                      How does the latter become the former?

                      Eugenics, liberal capitalism, racism and colonialism are all tightly intertwined.

                      I’d have to read more than I have to work out the chickens and eggs of it all 😉

        • Tony Veitch (not etc)

          Completely agree with the inherent racism of China. I spent three years in Xinjiang and heard and saw how arrogant Han could be towards the Uyghurs and other minorities.

          It would not be an exaggeration to suggest the Han are practising creeping genocide against many of the minority people of China.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            how arrogant Han could be

            Am I correct in thinking that means other Han weren’t? In which case the behaviour isn’t “inherent”.

            • Tony Veitch (not etc)

              No, poor wording on my part. Generally (another weasel word) the Han I met in Xinjiang were ‘inherently’ prejudiced against the ethnic minorities of the region.

              I could give numerous examples from my own experience of this prejudice.

              It is inherent in that, as Fang Zhou says, above, the Han are taught they are the oldest and best civilisation in the world!

              But I found all the people of Xinjiang ‘generally’ courteous to us ‘laowai’. [foreign devils]

              However, I did experience anti-foreigner prejudice in Chengdu.

    • CLEANGREEN 12.4

      Well said fang,

      You are very true here and we respect your honesty.

      NZ is becomming afraid at the rapid importing of well healed investors snapping up proprety here and forcing proerty values to srise to riddiculous levels now.

      We know we are not allowed to buy property in China as the government would not tolerate overseas influence on the property values there so we should use the same models they do to protect young NZ folks who hope to buy their own homes.
      This is not racism but government controlling the property market, a simple idea china thought of years ago.

      • Fang Zhou 12.4.1

        Thank you Cleangreen. I agree, it is not racist and is simply common sense.

        I do think that the prohibition against you buying property in China though is for those reasons. It is just extreme nationalism. For example, when I apply for NZ Citizenshio next year (I am a Permanent Resident now), I automatically lose my Chinese citizenship..Noone Chinese can have dual citizenship – extreme nationalism I think!

        • tracey

          Same is true in many countries (dual citizenship). The point about foreign ownership however is Labour focussed on Chinese ownership thereby allowing for the notion non Chinese foreign ownership was acceptable. Despite there being many 4th 5th and 6th generation Chinese Kiwis Labour chose to focus on Chinese looking names.

          SO what do we want in NZ? No foreign ownership or no Chinese foreign ownership and why the difference?

          THAT is an issue many are choosing to ignore in this thread in a fight to not be a racist themselves or to prover certain Chinese are racist.

      • David Mac 12.4.2

        Nobody can own land in China Clean. It’s owned by the people collectively. They’ll lease but they ain’t selling.

        • Fang Zhou

          You are correct. All land belongs to the Community Party. The same applies in NZ, as all land belongs to the crown and is essentially leased from her.

          But we can own houses and buildings individually. In rural villages it is a little different still. In my fathers village the house and land can only pass to other villagers or their families. Maybe similar to Maori land.

          • weka

            That’s interesting. So do people in China who own a house have the same kinds of control over that as in people in NZ, or are the rules around that different?

            • Fang Zhou

              Essentially the same as New Zealand, except in the rural villages. A reflection of the Mao views on collective farms. Some Provinces may be different in small ways, particularly local places. I am from Shandong. The cities in China are very very similat to here in many ways but those rural places can be very different rules than the cities but still all land belongs to Community Party. And maybr Community Party will beling to Mr Xi in future!

            • David Mac

              It is impossible for Fang Zhou to leave his Chinese house to his family. The occupation rights are linked to the lease arrangement.

              Fang Zhou’s NZ house ownership has a chance of being a legacy he can leave for his grandchildren, the general betterment of his family.

              China have recently tried to quell the $ exodus by sweetening up lease arrangements.

              • Fang Zhou

                Firstly, I am not a ‘he’. I am a ‘she’. Secondly, you are incorrect. But whatbwould I know? Afterall I am only Chinese and have owned apartments there, grew up there and lived there 35 years.

                This ia why I stopped postimg to this site. People on this site too often seek to lecture me about my own country, culture and views. THAT is racist! A little learning is not only a bad thing, it invariably is just arrogant ignorance.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  The Crown owns all the land here, the Party owns all the land in China. How does that translate into daily life?

                  Is the Party more (or less) likely to compulsorily possess your property (for whatever reason) than the Crown? Do they compensate when they do?

                  I enjoy reading your comments, they’re informative.

                  I’ve been wondering what you’d say about the allegations that the Party is ‘taking over’ Chinese language media in NZ, but it’s probably off topic 🙂

                  • Macro

                    AOB – actually that statement wrt the Crown owning all the land here is not quite correct – Maori Land. NZ’s position on land ownership is quite different to most other countries with two different entities ultimately responsible for the ownership. Then again a Treaty between indigenous people and the colonists such as Te Tiriti was quite unique.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Look at the way the Public Works Act has been applied: land “purchased” for one purpose, later treated as generic “Crown Land”, for example.

                      As the Wikipedia article on Aboriginal Title states:

                      Aboriginal title can be extinguished by the general government, but again, the requirement to do this varies by country…New Zealand formerly required consent, but today requires only a justification (ref: Public Works Act).

                      In essence, all land titles exist for as long as the Crown allows them to.

                      Not that the Crown wouldn’t be picking a heck of a fight.

                    • Macro

                      Yes I’m well aware of that AOB – Catherine Delahunty had a private members Bill ready entitled “Not one more Acre” which was directed specifically at this very problem. Unfortunately it never got the Ballot. Hopefully it will be taken up by those in the Coalition. On the other hand, there is land being returned to it’s rightful owners after being “confiscated” in the land grabs by previous governments under the various Treaty Settlements. The 20 year Ngai Tahu Settlement was celebrated the other day and it was encouraging to hear the progress that has been made since – for instance to provide millions in aid following the Kaikora quake as well as the many scholarships and social programmes that are on-going.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      I hadn’t heard about Delahunty’s bill, and yes, it’d be great to see it enacted 🙂

                • David Mac

                  Hi Fang Zhou, my mistaken gender apologies.

                  More importantly, my apologies if I have offended you, this is far from my intentions. I merely seek clarity.

                  Can you put me straight please. Do any individuals in China have their names on the freehold title of a property? Because if they can’t, that is the only point I am making. I’m not judging, just trying to get the lines of the playing field marked out.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    we can own houses and buildings individually. In rural villages it is a little different still. In my fathers village the house and land can only pass to other villagers or their families.

                    That seems pretty clear to me.

                    You know the Crown owns all the land here eh.

                    • David Mac

                      Yeah but if the crown want to flood my valley they’ll enable me to set up in a place of my choosing elsewhere and leave the replacement property to my daughter to live-in, rent out or sell as she sees fit.

                      I don’t know if this is the best way to go or not. But I think it’s worthy of consideration when looking at the motivating factors of overseas investment in NZ real estate.

                  • Fang Zhou

                    David, sorry if I sounded a bit touchy. My apologies! No, not on freehold.of land, but we have building ownership and use. Maybe this is oerpetual lease in New Zealand?

                    One Anonymous Bloke. It is hard for Kiwis to understand, but in China when the government decides something, then that is that. Everything is for the nation, not the individual. In sime ways that is good, as it allows very very rapid progress. But also bad, as no meaningful way to address wrongs. And of course many many of those wrongsl are from corruption and we have no way to appeal. Yes cimpensation is paid.

                    The ‘Party is taking over Chinese language …..’. Of course, although I am.Chinese and will defend my country of birth, I despise the Chineae government.Again, it is the concept of everything being done to support the nation, or rather the Community Party. It is not anti New Zealand though, more just controlling the views and actions of Chinese overseas, which are potentially dangerous to the government of China.

                • RedLogix

                  Well done Fang Zhou! I for one really appreciate you being here and hope that you continue.

                  The problem with the word ‘racist’ is that it has been misused far too often to shut down conversations people did not want to have, and it now means so many different things to different people that no-one can talk straight about it anymore.

                  Personally I think we should stop using the ‘racist’ word for a while., and focus more on listening to each other and speaking more gently.

                • weka

                  “This ia why I stopped postimg to this site. People on this site too often seek to lecture me about my own country, culture and views. THAT is racist! A little learning is not only a bad thing, it invariably is just arrogant ignorance.”

                  This is a fair criticism of TS comments I think. From a moderation pov, had I seen it before the replies I would have asked for clarification and the other person would need to back up their claim. There’s been some more questions which you may or may not feel like answering (I’m certainly interested if you do).

                  In the absence of someone knowledgeable (e.g. first hand experience like yourself) sharing I think the onus is on other people to go do some research if they want to make assertions of fact.

                • tracey

                  Ignorance is cured by education. Already you have shared information some of us didnt know. Please keep doing so.

      • weka 12.4.3

        “NZ is becomming afraid at the rapid importing of well healed investors snapping up proprety here and forcing proerty values to srise to riddiculous levels now.”

        true, but bloody odd that we’re not talking about the money coming from places we are more ethnically similar too overall. There are reasons for that.

        • Macro

          I think that what is being proposed is that all overseas investment in land and property from non-domiciled persons would be banned. The statistics from last year are quite horrendous.

          Land sales to foreign buyers are booming in New Zealand, with 465,863 hectares (1.16m acres) bought in 2016, an almost sixfold increase on the year before. That is the equivalent to 3.2% of farmland

          That ban applies to all – whether from China, Australia, The States, or Europe. If they don’t have residency here – they don’t get to buy.

          • tracey

            Agreed BUT this thread addresses how Labour chose to address that intially and they did it byvsingling out Chinese looking names. Not Scottish or Welsh or French or American ( anything with Jr for instance 😉 ).

            • Macro

              That is also true – but bear in mind that this was just not a concern of NZ Labour but from around the Pacific Rim – House prices in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Vancouver, and anywhere with easy access to overseas investment were skyrocketing. I visited Vancouver in 2014 and was astounded to see the number of large empty houses – and this was not just the boarding up for winter preparations. The local newspapers were full of concern about the escalating house prices. A similar scenario was happening across the Tasman especially in Sydney. The source of all this money was not difficult to identify. There was at that time 21 Trillion US dollars sitting in Private accounts in Chinese banks and it was burning a hole in peoples pockets. That money started to flow out of the country into “investments” off-shore. Firstly Canada and then Australia put in stiffer regulations wrt to residential property ownership by off-shore buyers, but National here, were happy to sell off our housing stock to anyone, and everyone. The Chinese Govt have also now woken up to the leakage of funds off shore, and a year ago tightened the regulations. About a year ago house prices here peaked. Some have put that down to the 2 year bright line test – and that may have have had some effect, but I know from several accounts, that if a house is now being sold to an off-shore buyer from China, settlement dates are being set months ahead, which would indicate that there are more difficulties in transferring the funds out of the country.

    • DH 12.5

      Fang if you’re ever invited I’d like to see you consider authoring here. You write well and IMO we need a wider range of perspectives on the site.

  13. Rightly or wrongly 13

    I think the biggest issue from this story is not the Chinese name story itself but the blatant lack of standards shown by the Herald editors.

    They are told by their own that the story is based on a false premise and should be identified as such however they chose to ignore this and publish anyway.

    No wonder surveys consider journalists to be at the bottom of the heap when it comes to trustworthiness and public confidence.

    Appears to be a blatant example of the msm publishing a false story in order to harvests clicks.

    Have they no shame?

    • tracey 13.1

      Good point but who fed them the information based on a false premise? A party that apparently is stupid but not racist? Pretty sure politicians rank higher than journalists on the lack of trust front.

    • weka 13.2

      Yep, that side of it is pretty shocking. Why that happened is what interests me and I think Singh clearly points to some of the relevant factors.

  14. ropata 14

    All this liberal hand wringing will not matter in 20 years when we are a province of Imperial China

    [This liberal has made a commitment to pushing back against debate in TS that increases anti-Chinese sentiment. If you have some reasoned analysis or thoughts on China and imperialism then the least that is expected here is to present them in ways that aren’t inflammatory or likely to encourage people hating on Chinese, including Chinese NZers. I’ll let this comment stand because I want the moderation note visible, but if you want to comment again, please up your game (as I know you are quite capable of) – weka]

  15. Keepcalmcarryon 15

    I think this – probably with the best of intentions here- is simply being overthought.
    Data on foreign ownership was poor, there was real concern the market was distorted by foreign money. Labour went with the information at hand which in my opinion was too sketchy to prove their point and left them open to accusations of racism.
    Are labour a bunch of actual racists?
    Doubt it
    Did they fumble on this?
    We are still waiting on the hard data on foreign ownership.

  16. Ad 16

    The hard data on this is about to arrive, thanks to Minister Twyford.

    He is commissioning work from three undisputed leaders in the housing debate, forming an authoritative picture on the state of housing in New Zealand today, drawing on the best data available. It will get firm figures on:
    – Homelessness
    – The state of the rental market
    – Decline of home ownership
    – Etc


    This data set will also ensure that the National opposition doesn’t get to pull the same political tactics that he did himself. So, smart politics from Minister Twyford both ways.

    May have been ugly to some at the time, but this is the only politician to have made so much as a dent on National while they were in power.

    Having succeeded in blowing the National Party out of power, he is already underway addressing the issue that 9 years of previous Ministers failed to act on by:

    – Banning overseas speculators
    -Passing the Healthy Homes Bill
    – Cancelling the selloff of state houses
    – Setting up Kiwibuild

    Russell Brown is just way too late to the party on this one.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 16.1

      James Ting-Edwards is waaaaay ahead of Twyford.

      Follow the money, not the surnames.

      • Ad 16.1.1

        Hood’s focus was on mortgage debt versus value, not on the nature and data about the housing stock deficit, which is the set of issues Minister Twyford is addressing.

        Twyford’s remit doesn’t extend to tax and the full finance and economic development portfolios that might, in some future term, address New Zealand’s personal mortgage debt mountain.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Judging from the way he “addressed” the issue last time I’m adopting a wait-and-see approach 😉

          • Ad

            Evidence is always good.
            But in one month the Minister’s already taken more direction action than the last lot in 9 years.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              “Better than National by every single measure” is the minimum expectation based on the historical record.

              “That’s for nothing. Now do something.”

    • CLEANGREEN 16.2

      Phil is the consumate politician, and has a bright future for sure.

      He was the one opposition politician that showed how Steven Joyce in 2013 how Joyce had mis-managed our rail company funding by removing $200 million from the rail company’s track mainainence program and then set up and caused diaster on the rail system.

      Phil Twyford was on the ‘transport select Committee’ then in 2012-13 and witnessed kiwirail admit this lack of funding issue was there, so MP Twyford sent the whole issue to the press then to allow us alll to know what Steven Joyce as “minister of transport” had done to kiwirail as Joyce had written to the press many times before then bad mouthing kiwirail for their policies and threatening them he would take control.

      Joyce always claimed that it was a waste of funding a system that demanded money be poured down the back of it all the time. We see roading as having this to.

      Strangely Joyce was not fired then for his mis-management of our rail assett then.

      Joyce should now be punished for this and other slipups he now has committed against the public.

      So Phil Twyford is very smart.


      Thursday, 14 February 2013, 1:35 pm
      Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party
      Phil Twyford
      Transport Spokesperson
      14 February 2013
      Kiwi Rail admits lack of maintenance led to wash-out
      Kiwi Rail has admitted that its failure to maintain old and damaged culverts was behind the wash out that closed the Gisborne-Napier line, while cuts to its maintenance budget are putting the network at further risk, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says.
      “Across the country Kiwi Rail missed its target of replacing 71 old culverts last year, and only replaced 49. This is cause for alarm.
      “The Gisborne-Napier wash-out shows what happens when essential maintenance work is not carried out.
      “Kiwi Rail cut and deferred $200 million of network maintenance last year. At the very time it needs to be upgrading its network and improving efficiency, the Government’s unrealistic ‘Turn Around Plan’ is putting enormous stress on the organisation and forcing it to cut maintenance.
      “Kiwi Rail has told Parliament’s transport committee it has 12,197 rail line culverts around the country and has done a risk assessment identifying 53 high priority culverts but ‘…in spite of every effort to mitigate risk, some incidents of wash out may still occur…’
      “National’s plan for rail is not workable. Kiwi Rail has missed its financial targets for two of the last three years. It is being forced to make cuts that are a false economy.
      “At a time when the Government is wasting billions of dollars on its ‘motorways of madness’, it makes no sense to cripple the national rail line.”

    • One Anonymous Bloke 16.3

      Correction, as Bill notes at 9, it was David Hood

    • weka 16.4

      “– Banning overseas speculators”

      Not quite. Restricting sales of existing residential housing. Unless I have missed something overseas investment in residential land, industrial and rural land will continue. Maybe some tinkering to the rural land setttings in the OIO, but we’ll see.

  17. tracey 17

    ” As Ibram X Kendi, a professor at American University in Washington DC, told the Guardian: “The expression of racism is to fundamentally deny its expression.”

    Kendi, the author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, says that “in studying the history of racist ideas, I found that every group or articulator of racist ideas denied that their ideas are racist. ”


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  • NZ sends further significant deployment to support Ukraine
    New Zealand is making a further significant deployment of 120 New Zealand Defence Force personnel to the United Kingdom to help train Ukraine soldiers, as part of an international effort to help Ukraine continue to defend itself against Russia’s illegal war. It follows a completed deployment of 30 NZDF personnel ...
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    4 hours ago
  • Foreign Minister visit to Niue and Tonga
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta will visit Niue and Tonga this week to engage kanohi ki te kanohi with counterparts, and progress work on Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific Resilience and climate action priorities. “After the disruption caused by COVID-19 border closures, this is another opportunity to connect in-person with our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • Creating sustainable public transport for all
    Our new approach to public transport will: Support ‘on-demand’ public transport services Allow councils to own and operate services in house Improve pay and working conditions Deliver routes and services that reflect community needs Incentivise the decarbonisation of the fleet Workers and public transport users are at the heart of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Welcome for Afghan human rights defenders, Government House Auckland
    As-salamu alaykum, Tena tatou katoa, Thank you all for being here today. To the Afghan human rights defenders and your family members, welcome to Aotearoa. And thank you Your Excellency for hosting us all here at Government House. We have with us today from Afghanistan, human rights advocates, journalists, judges, ...
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    3 days ago
  • Speech on tax changes for Build-to-Rent sector
    It’s my great pleasure to be able to speak with you about a really positive move for the Build-to-Rent sector. As you know, we announced changes last year to help steer property investors way from the existing pool of housing and toward solving New Zealand’s grave housing shortage - by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Tax incentives to boost long-term rental supply
    ·      Tax changes aimed at growing quality, secure rental supply ·      New and existing build-to-rent developments exempt from interest limitation rules in perpetuity, when offering ten-year  tenancies ·      Exemption to apply from 1 October 2021. The Government is encouraging more long-term rental options by giving developers tax incentives for as ...
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    3 days ago
  • Govt marks 350th tower in push for improved rural connectivity
    The Government has marked another milestone in its push for better rural connectivity, welcoming the delivery of Rural Connectivity Group’s (RCG) 350th tower. Waikato’s Te Ākau, which sits roughly 50 kilometres out of Hamilton is home to the new tower. “The COVID 19 pandemic has highlighted the ever-increasing importance of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Joint Press Release: Trans-Tasman agriculture ministers discuss biosecurity co-operation
    Biosecurity co-operation topped the agenda when Australia and New Zealand’s agriculture ministers met yesterday. Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Murray Watt met with his New Zealand counterpart, Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, Biosecurity, and Rural Communities in a conference call, which had particular focus on foot and ...
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    3 days ago
  • Remote monitoring could give patients better care at home
    People could spend less time in hospital, thanks to a smart new remote device that lets patients be monitored at home, Health Minister Andrew Little says. “Technology has the potential to really change the way we do things – to do things that are  better for patients and at the ...
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    3 days ago
  • Government supporting kids’ learning success
    Concrete steps to clarify inclusive, evidence-informed teaching practices Strengthen capability supports along the professional pathway  Enhance partnerships between the education system and whānau, iwi, communities Embed equitable additional learning supports and assessment tools that help teachers effectively notice and respond to the needs of students Improved student achievement is a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Supporting prevention, preparedness and response to global pandemics
    Aotearoa New Zealand has committed to strengthen global prevention, preparedness and responses to future pandemics with seed funding for a new World Bank initiative, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. “We cannot afford to wait until the next pandemic. We must all play our part to support developing countries ...
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    4 days ago
  • Overseas investors converting farms to forests must show benefit to New Zealand
    A law change to ensure that forestry conversions by overseas investors benefit New Zealand has passed its final reading in Parliament. Previously, overseas investors wishing to convert land, such as farm land, into forestry only needed to meet the “special forestry test”. This is a streamlined test, designed to encourage ...
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    4 days ago
  • International visitors boosting economic recovery
    International tourism recovery well underway with higher level of overseas visitor arrivals than previously expected UK and US card spend already back at pre-COVID levels Visitors staying in New Zealand longer and spending more compared to 2019 Govt support throughout pandemic helped tourism sector prepare for return of international ...
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    4 days ago
  • Ministry’s inaugural Strategy paves way for ethnic communities
    The Ministry for Ethnic Communities has released its first strategy, setting out the actions it will take over the next few years to achieve better wellbeing outcomes for ethnic communities Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan announced today. “The Strategy that has been released today sets out ...
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    4 days ago
  • World class aquatic centre opened in Hawke’s Bay
    The Prime Minister has officially opened the Hawke’s Bay Regional Aquatic Centre today saying it is a huge asset to the region and to the country. “This is a world class facility which will be able to host national and international events including the world championships. With a 10-lane Olympic ...
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    4 days ago
  • Tulī Takes Flight winners take to the wing
    The Associate Minister of Education, Aupito William Sio, has today announced the recipients of the Tulī Takes Flight scholarships which were a key part of last year’s Dawn Raids apology. The scholarships are a part of the goodwill gesture of reconciliation to mark the apology by the New Zealand Government ...
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    4 days ago
  • Govt supports free period products in over 2000 schools within one year
    96% of estimated menstruating students receive free period products 2085 schools involved 1200 dispensers installed Supports cost of living, combats child poverty, helps increase attendance Associate Minister of Education Jan Tinetti today hailed the free period products in schools, Ikura | Manaakitia te whare tangata, a huge success, acknowledging ...
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    4 days ago
  • Govt boosts tourism transformation to strengthen workforce and improve outcomes
    The Tourism Industry Transformation Plan outlines key actions to improve the sector This includes a Tourism and Hospitality Accord to set employment standards Developing cultural competency within the workforce Improving the education and training system for tourism Equipping business owners and operators with better tools and enabling better work ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • NZ earns another major digital investment
    Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications Dr David Clark welcomes Google Cloud’s decision to make New Zealand a cloud region. “This is another major vote of confidence for New Zealand’s growing digital sector, and our economic recovery from COVID 19,” David Clark said. “Becoming a cloud region will mean ...
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    5 days ago
  • Changes to NCEA & University Entrance in response to COVID-19 disruptions
    A package of changes to NCEA and University Entrance announced today recognise the impact COVID-19 has had on senior secondary students’ assessment towards NCEA in 2022, says Associate Minister of Education Jan Tinetti. “We have heard from schools how significant absences of students and teachers, as a result of COVID-19, ...
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    5 days ago
  • 60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship between Aotearoa New Zealand and Samoa- “Lifelong Fri...
    Te Reo Māori tauparapara… Tapatapa tū ki te Rangi! Ki te Whei-ao! Ki te Ao-mārama Tihei mauri ora! Stand at the edge of the universe! of the spiritual world! of the physical world! It is the breath of creation Formal acknowledgments… [Your Highness Afioga Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II and Masiofo] ...
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    5 days ago
  • New law passed to reduce gun harm
    The Government’s commitment to combatting firearms violence has reached another significant milestone today with the passage of the Firearms Prohibition Order Legislation Bill, Police Minister Chris Hipkins says. The new law helps to reduce firearm-related crime by targeting possession, use, or carriage of firearms by people whose actions and behaviours ...
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    6 days ago
  • Minister sends condolences as last Battle for Crete veteran passes away
    Minister for Veterans, Hon Meka Whaitiri sends her condolences to the last Battle for Crete veteran. “I am saddened today to learn of the passing of Cyril Henry Robinson known as Brant Robinson, who is believed to be the last surviving New Zealand veteran of the Battle for Crete, Meka ...
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    6 days ago
  • Three Strikes Legislation Repeal Bill passes third reading
    Legislation to repeal the ‘Three Strikes’ law has passed its third reading in Parliament. “The Three Strikes Legislation Repeal Bill ends an anomaly in New Zealand’s justice system that dictates what sentence judges must hand down irrespective of relevant factors,” Justice Minister Kiri Allan said. “The three strikes law was ...
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    6 days ago
  • Government working on preliminary steps to improve support for abuse survivors
    Work is under way on preliminary steps to improve the Government’s support for survivors of abuse in care while a new, independent redress system is designed, Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins says. These steps – recommended by the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry – include rapid payments for ...
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    6 days ago
  • Remarks upon 77th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
    Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki Online Forum 77 years ago today, an atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. Three days earlier, on the 6th of August 1945, the same fate had befallen the people of Hiroshima.  Tens of thousands died instantly. In the years that followed 340,000 ...
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    6 days ago
  • Govt signs NZ–USA agreement launching new opportunities for space sector
    An agreement signed today between the New Zealand and United States governments will provide new opportunities for our space sector and closer collaboration with NASA, Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said. Stuart Nash signed the Framework Agreement with United States Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman. The signing ...
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    6 days ago
  • Govt strengthens emergency management cooperation between NZ and the US
    An agreement signed today between New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the United States’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will strengthen global emergency management capability, says Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty. “The Government is committed to continually strengthening our emergency management system, and this Memorandum of Cooperation ...
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    6 days ago
  • New Zealand to stay at Orange as winter continues
    New Zealand will remain at the Orange traffic light setting, while hospitalisations remain elevated and pressure on the health system continues through winter. “There’s still significant pressure on hospitals from winter illnesses, so our current measures have an ongoing role to play in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Path paved for communities to reshape streets
    Streets will soon be able to be transformed from unsafe and inaccessible corridors to vibrant places for all transport modes thanks to new legislation proposed today, announced Transport Minister Michael Wood. “We need to make it safe, quicker and more attractive for people to walk, ride and take public transport ...
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    6 days ago
  • Boost for agricultural and horticultural science in schools
    More young minds eyeing food and fibre careers is the aim of new Government support for agricultural and horticultural science teachers in secondary schools, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. The Government is committing $1.6 million over five years to the initiative through the Ministry for Primary ...
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    6 days ago
  • Bumper breeding season boosts Kākāpō population
    Kākāpō numbers have increased from 197 to 252 in the 2022 breeding season, and there are now more of the endangered parrots than there have been for almost 50 years, Conservation Minister Poto Williams announced today. The flightless, nocturnal parrot is a taonga of Ngāi Tahu and a species unique ...
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    6 days ago
  • Relationship with Malaysia to be elevated to Strategic Partnership
    The relationship between Aotearoa New Zealand and Malaysia is to be elevated to the status of a Strategic Partnership, to open up opportunities for greater co-operation and connections in areas like regional security and economic development. Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta met her Malaysian counterpart Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah today during a ...
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    7 days ago
  • Call for New Zealanders to get on-board with rail safety
    With additional trains operating across the network, powered by the Government’s investment in rail, there is need for a renewed focus on rail safety, Transport Minister Michael Wood emphasised at the launch of Rail Safety Week 2022. “Over the last five years the Government has invested significantly to improve level ...
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    1 week ago
  • Regional approach the focus at ASEAN and East Asia Summit talks
    The Foreign Minister has wrapped up a series of meetings with Indo-Pacific partners in Cambodia which reinforced the need for the region to work collectively to deal with security and economic challenges. Nanaia Mahuta travelled to Phnom Penh for a bilateral meeting between ASEAN foreign ministers and Aotearoa New Zealand, ...
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    1 week ago
  • Speech to the Criminal Bar Association
    Kia ora koutou Firstly, thank you to the President of the Criminal Bar Association, Fiona Guy Kidd QC, for her invitation to attend the annual conference this weekend albeit unfortunately she is unable to attend, I’m grateful to the warm welcome both Chris Wilkinson-Smith (Vice-President, Whanganui) and Adam Simperingham (Vice-President, Gisborne) ...
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    1 week ago
  • The beat goes on as Government renews support for musicians
    Extension of Aotearoa Touring Programme supporting domestic musicians The Programme has supported more than 1,700 shows and over 250 artists New Zealand Music Commission estimates that around 200,000 Kiwis have been able to attend shows as a result of the programme The Government is hitting a high note, with ...
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    1 week ago
  • Minister of Defence to attend Guadalcanal Commemorations in the Solomon Islands
    Minister of Defence Peeni Henare will depart tomorrow for Solomon Islands to attend events commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal. While in Solomon Islands, Minister Henare will also meet with Solomon Islands Minister of National Security, Correctional Services and Police Anthony Veke to continue cooperation on security ...
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    1 week ago
  • New programme to provide insights into regenerative dairy farming 
    The Government is partnering with Ngāi Tahu Farming Limited and Ngāi Tūāhuriri on a whole-farm scale study in North Canterbury to validate the science of regenerative farming, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.   The programme aims to scientifically evaluate the financial, social and environmental differences between regenerative and conventional practices. ...
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    1 week ago
  • More women on public boards than ever before
    52.5% of people on public boards are women Greatest ever percentage of women Improved collection of ethnicity data “Women’s representation on public sector boards and committees is now 52.5 percent, the highest ever level. The facts prove that diverse boards bring a wider range of knowledge, expertise and skill. ...
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    2 weeks ago