Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[BRIEF NOTE] Pacific Islanders in New Zealand

Thanks to errolwi for forwarding a link to this blog post by David Farrar at Kiwiblog, hinting at a wider debate on the consequences of the quotas in New Zealand immigration policy directed towards Pacific Islanders. As this 1995 study points out, this has had a major impact on island populations: There are many more people with Niue, the Cook Islands, and Tokelau in New Zealand than actually live in those associated territories, and the effects elsewhere aren't that much less pronounced. Pacific Islanders form 5% of New Zealand's population as a consequence of economic growth in New Zealand after the Second World War that created the sorts of labour shortages that could be filled by Pacific Island migrants. Should the automatic preferences continue without regards for this immigration's impact on wider New Zealand society, Clydesdale asks.

[W]e do have some specific quotas for Pacific Islanders where applications are decided by random ballot. As far as I can tell they are a Samoan quota of 1,100 a year, a Kiribati quota of 75, Tuvalu 75, Fiji 250 and Tonga 250 for a total of 1,750.

There may be family members on top of that as permanent and long-term arrivals in the last year from Samoa was 1,482 and 773 for Tonga. But that may be family reunifications or other factors.

Now as I said above there are some public policy reasons for having special PI quotas - certainly in the case of Samoa. In 1982 the Privy Council ruled all Samoans are entitled to NZ citizenship. The Government passed the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 to over-turn that ruling and restrict citizenship to those already lawfully in NZ.

As “compensation” for doing so a Samoan quota was agreed to as part of a Treaty of Friendship. We are morally bound to keep our word under that Treaty.

The other Pacific quotas can be justified on public policy grounds also - as the “big brother” to the South Pacific, it is argued we should help out our small neighbours, and we do with most aid going there, and also the special immigration quotas.

The issue is though, that because these special country quotas exist, it is legitimate to debate the impact of immigration from those countries. I do not believe it is particularly valid to question the impact of immigration from China (for example) because no-one from China gets in purely because they are Chinese. They get in because they have met the same objective test as everyone else in the world wanting to come here. Well that, or they were mates with Taito Philip Field.

[. . .]

But the existence of those special quotas means it is legitimate to look at issues such as under-achievement in employment, education and crime for migrants from those countries. A sensible debate can be held on whether the quotas are set at the right level. Even in the case of Samoa the quota of 1,100 is a maximum and applicants still need to meet other criteria like having a job offer. The Government relaxed those criteria in 2004 as not enough applicants were being accepted. It is in no way racist or wrong to debate whether or not that was a good idea, and whether the level of quotas is too high, too low or about right.

Similar debates involving the skills and achievements of different groups in different countries exist elsewhere in the world. These debates have had consquences--Canada's points system, which selects preferentially for skilled migrants, might be a model for immigration policy reforms in France and Australia.
Tags: immigration, islands, new zealand, pacific islands, polynesia
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