A Maori academic says immigration by whites should be restricted because they pose a threat to race relations due to their "white supremacist" attitudes. The controversial comments come in response to a Department of Labour report, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Star-Times, which found Maori are more likely to express anti-immigration sentiment than Pakeha or any other ethnic group. Margaret Mutu, head of Auckland University's department of Maori studies, agreed with the findings and called on the government to restrict the number of white migrants arriving from countries such as South Africa, England and the United States as they brought attitudes destructive to Maori. "They do bring with them, as much as they deny it, an attitude of white supremacy, and that is fostered by the country," she said.The survey results are no particular surprise, at least as far as ethnic differences go:
Maori were the least likely to consider New Zealand a welcoming place and the most likely to want less migration. Maori were the most likely to disagree with positive statements about immigration and most likely to agree with negative statements. These results are backed up by other studies which have reported less positive attitudes towards migrants and immigration by Maori. The negative statement that Maori are most likely to agree with is Migrants take jobs away from other New Zealanders with almost half of Maori (45 percent) agreeing with this. This is higher than those agreeing with the statements around immigration being a threat to New Zealand’s culture, suggesting that the reasons for the more negative views of Maori have an economic basis. This is likely to be because migrants are seen as a threat in the job market, particularly during a recession.
The ethnic differences correspond with what I've found in the New Zealand Election Survey. Here are some results from the 2008 NZES. Note that the researchers oversampled Maori and youth; results presented here haven't corrected for the oversampling. But as we're mostly interested in whether immigration sentiment has an ethnic correlate, the oversampling ought only increase the precision of the estimate unless the oversample draws disproportionately from segments more heavily anti-immigrant.
A few cross-tabs results.
The NZES asks whether New Zealand ought to increase or decrease the number of immigrants (zimmig). Among those providing a response (excluding the roughly 5% of both groups that say "don't know"), the median person not claiming New Zealand Maori background says immigration levels ought to remain the same; the median respondent claiming New Zealand Maori background says immigration ought to be reduced "A little". But look at the difference in the cross tabs here:
Increase or decrease immigrants
Increase a lot
Increase a little
Reduce a little
Reduce a lot
The results really don't change much if you use different ethnicity measures.
On the whole, there's not much support for increasing immigration, which is pretty disappointing. Maybe this is driven by the 2008 survey's having been conducted at the time of the global financial crisis. But, the figures from the 2005 survey, at the height of an economic boom with a massively overheated labour market, aren't a lot different. Among non-Maori, support for reduced immigration drops from a total of 46% (2008) to 40% (2005). But 48% of Maori respondents in that 2005 survey replied "Reduce a lot", with another 25% saying "Reduce a little". So, during a boom time, Maori opposition to immigration was higher than it is now. A couple quick regressions on the 2008 data suggest the ethnic divide remains very strong after controlling for ideology, urban/rural status, income, education, age, employment status, owning your own home, household finances as compared to a year ago, having children, and a few other things.
So that there's a rather strong ethnic divide on immigration desirability seems reasonably robust.
Now, the 2008 survey doesn't ask the question, but the 2005 survey does: "Is immigration good for the economy?" The Department of Labour survey suggests concern about economic effects of immigration as driving ethnic differences. The raw data suggests the same in the NZES (2005). Among those not claiming Maori descent, over 60% agreed or strongly agreed that immigration is good for the economy. Among those claiming Maori descent, only 35% did. But if we look at correlates of policy views in the 2005 dataset, and include a whole whack of control variables I'm not going to bother mentioning (huge kitchen sink), the coefficient on Maori ethnicity is only cut by roughly twenty percent if you control for views on whether immigration helps or hurts the economy. So Maori anti-immigrant sentiment isn't just driven by differences in views of how the economy works.
And so it's odd then to see calls for Margaret Mutu's resignation.
"As a Maori, I welcome white immigrants," [Ngapuhi leader David] Rankin said. "They are the ones most likely to bring employment opportunities for our communities, and we don't see the sort of racism Margaret refers to."Rankin said Mutu has no place working at a university."I think Auckland University are scared of her," he said. "And so they lack the courage to deal with her, but I think after this episode, they will be having another look at her position and the harm she is bringing to Auckland University."Rankin said Mutu was a "champagne radical" who turned up to a foreshore and seabed hikoi in her "Armani suit"."What she doesn't realise is she's actually pulling Maoridom apart - she's an absolute trouble maker."Rankin said he didn't think Mutu believed a word she said and would probably "hide behind" a section in the Education Act that affords her the right to speak as the "critical consciousness of society".Mutu's controversial comments came in response to a Department of Labour report which found Maori are more likely to express anti-immigration sentiment than Pakeha or any other ethnic group.
I'm totally with Rankin on the desirability of immigration. But Mutu's views are hardly idiosyncratic among Maori, at least as far as the NZES data suggests.
And I get worried when employment protection accorded academics when acting in a critic and conscience role is called "hiding behind" a section of the Education Act. Especially since much of what appears on this blog enjoys that status.