Immigration is not the issue.

It’s been a rough week for migrant issues. Rounding out an exceptionally bad year and election season for migrants in Aotearoa. If you’ve been in Aotearoa for any length of time I first want to show you a chart that will help you identify this key difference in the way we talk about immigration in Aotearoa.

Image: Peter Griffin Scale Meme showing light skin tones as Ex-Pats, and Migrants as those with darker skin tones.
You know it’s true.

Q: “How can you possibly say that migration isn’t the problem have you not seen our housing deficits?”

This is a fictional question, but given the announcement of Māori Party policy in this area you’d believe this was the problem they thought were solving when discussing their housing policy. The article on their housing policy is found here.

Here’s a relevant quote on immigration from that article:

“Immigration must be stopped until the supply side of housing meets the demand side. Immigration is causing disruption and adding to the false elevation in demand and therefore elevation in prices.”

Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere

The supply side of housing isn’t being fucked up by migrants though. It’s NIMBYs. Always fucking NIMBYs. People with housing already who complain about preserving heritage housing such as this example below.

Newsflash – if something is less than 300 years old, it’s heritage value is minimal. We waste money on the such awful ideas such as heritage that only seems to apply to pākehā buildings, and civilisation. Heritage should be applied to perhaps certain famous peoples homes (e.g. Kate Sheppard), or the oldest recorded site of civilisation in Aotearoa based in Tāmaki Makaurau. I will forgive you if you don’t know what I’m talking about because even our Prime Minister failed to appreciate or acknowledge the site of Ihumātao by visiting the land protectors who were staying there. (Side Note: My favourite piece written on this is Tayi Tibble’s piece for Newsroom – Ihumātao: Everyone was there, e hoa).

Here’s another use of this meme to identify if something is heritage or not.

Peter Griffin Meme: 
White skintones are heritage
Dark skintones are not heritage
Noticing a racist trend? Good. Wake up – we’re a racist country.

So our housing supply has been stalled by NIMBYs pretty much everywhere, and if you go to a “public meeting” – having the privilege and time to do so you’d probably notice they aren’t democratic at all and skew toward a part of the population who a) owns the most wealth, b) don’t have housing issues. As wisely pointed out by Frank McRae on Twitter:

Every single time we try to expand urbanisation and install high rises these people complain. They are a slim minority of society that local councils listen to more than any other. When a Green candidate councillor is advocating for the side that wants to stop housing homeless people I wonder what values people actually stand for anymore. Older primarily pākehā are to blame – go through any council records for any increase in urban density and you will find the Ians and the Karens stopping it or lodging complaints.

So, we’ve established that migrants are not to blame for the housing crisis – NIMBYism is the cause, as well as National selling off a lot of social housing, creating a backlog that has only increased under the Labour-NZFirst-Green coalition, add in the ridiculously expensive rules that used to exist for housing such as having to have a driveway and you can see – we created the problem and MIGRATION IS NOT TO BLAME.

The backlog is getting scarier and scarier, COVID-19 certainly threw a spanner in the works. But the latest statistics are horrific:

The number of applicants on the Housing Register is subject to change, as people come on and off the register, and as their circumstances change. There were 18,520 applicants on the Housing Register as at 30 June 2020, an increase of 50.4 percent compared with the same time last year (i.e. June 2019).


We still need to build a ton of housing, and back orders for builders are stretched a mile long. Almost as though we will need to get these specialist skills from somewhere overseas, as well as training all those who actually WANT to be builders (of which there is a slim population within NZ).

Fuck, suddenly zero migration as a strategy is completely flawed at this first easy to recognise hurdle. There are plenty of other examples where entire industries rely on migrants to survive such as educational institutes (who need Fees to survive), all those who qualify for the Recognised Seasonal Employer program (which exploits migrants for cheap labour), and pretty much our entire fucking healthcare system (there are entire wards made up of migrant labour from certain countries in Whangārei hospital).

But there’s more, Aotearoa’s population is rapidly aging. Here’s some stuff from Stats NZ.

By 2051, there will be over 1.14 million people aged 65 years and over in New Zealand. This represents an increase of 715,000 or 166 percent over the base (1996) population. They are expected to make up 25.5 percent (or 1 in every 4) of all New Zealanders (4.49 million). At present there are about half as many elderly New Zealanders as children. By 2051, there are projected to be at least 60 percent more elderly than children. Given the prospects of sub-replacement fertility, increasing life expectancy and the passage of baby boomers into retirement ages, it is projected that half of all New Zealanders will be older than 46 years by 2051, compared with the current median age of 34 years.


Ok, but that seems like a pretty huge problem, if our workforce is aging rapidly and our birthrate is low (which it is), how are we going to sustain our society? (HINT: IMMIGRATION).

Given the information I have provided you’ll see that immigration is essential to a functioning and stable Aotearoa, simply halting it as suggested by the Māori party has suggested is just stupid bad policy and it’s scapegoating a sector of society that is both essential and not to blame.

Here’s something worse. Lets look at how migrants are treated.

As I said it was a bad year for migrants, and I really mean it. During COVID-19 lockdowns this was posted. See if you can find our national disgrace in this chart:

Image of how to access food in NZ with a flowchart
This should be our national shame.

In case you can’t work it out, here I’ll highlight it:

That’s right we relied on a charity to feed the migrants whom were trapped here.

We RELIED on the RED CROSS to feed migrants who were trapped here unable to return home due to COVID-19 because we failed to enact Section 64 of the Social Security Act. We have a specific provision for providing benefits to migrants if this exact situation occurred – article here.

Does this sound like “Be Kind” to you? Denying people benefits during a pandemic? There was an action station petition launched – which didn’t even garner over 1000 signatures – we are such a callous nation at times, but this abdication of responsibility to those we bring over to work here is up there as one of the worst atrocities this government has allowed to occur.

But migrant exploitation is basically our bread and butter. The Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme I talked about before – which was setup by Labour and continued by National, and now again Labour – basically extorts migrant labour from Pacific nations. This part is explicitly designed in the scheme:

Unless employers can show they have pre-established relationships with workers from other countries, they may only recruit workers under RSE policy from the following eligible Pacific countries:

Papua New Guinea
Solomon Islands
Workers must meet health and character requirements and provide evidence of arrangements to leave New Zealand at the end of their stay.
Aotearoa exploiting it’s own version of colonisation of the Pacific.

That scheme though in recent years hasn’t been that great. Dileepa Fonseka has been covering immigration issues very well for Newsroom – to see how that scheme goes wrong he did an amazing expose piece on an employer in Hawkes Bay. The result ? Immigration NZ failed to resolve any issues and actually had the people return home before any prosecutions were made.

So we love migrants to work slave labour in our orchards, to work in our hospitals, aged-care facilities, and other key sectors of society.

At the same time we cast ourselves as a caring nation, but in reality our immigration scheme is one of the most punitive in the world, and we denied these people basic rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our immigration scheme is so awful that BORIS JOHNSON uses it as an example of how to do immigration. That should tell you everything you need to know.

In summary know two things:

a) Aotearoa requires migrants implicitly, some of our critical industries need to get migrants to come here.

b) We treat migrants with a callous disregard and scapegoat them for issues that are not their fault.

I guess in summary, I really want to know… when does “Be Kind?” start.

Further Reading:

  1. Look at Dileepa Fonseka’s far better investigation into these issues starting here and just click on his name to find all the other excellent reporting on this issue.
  2. Read the MBIE research that was made public last year about widespread issues with migrant exploitation here:

Published by roryreckons

I am an ADHD/Autism Coach as well as ADHD/Autism/OCD/CPTSD advocate and independent ADHD/Autism researcher. I am an ADHD/Autism Coach who trained through the ADD Coaching Academy. I write mainly about ADHD/Autism/OCD/Mental health issues, but will also discuss morality, abolition, and current affairs occasionally.

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