NEW ZEALAND CHINESE - ( EARLY HISTORY ) ( D ) ( 333 )
source - stephenyoung.co.nz
edmondsallan - Hello - I am really learning somethings now that I had no idea about what went on with the chinese community Its just great !
Yet in the end most retained some Chineseness. The majority of the young Chinese could not wholly assimilate since they could not give up their strong ties and obligations to their parents (which in turn led to the retention of other customs), marry into the European community (because like tends to marry like), abandon all their preferences like that for Chinese food, and entirely overcome deep-rooted cultural traits like indirectness. Also acting against assimilation was the usually unspoken but real barrier of skin colour, although the writer personally felt a greater barrier by being Chinese. The incompleteness of their assimilation was in due course justified by the concept of multiculturism, which had its beginnings in New Zealand in the 1960s (introduced, perhaps, by the Hunn  and Booth-Hunn  Reports)(39) and has been gradually accepted. Multiculturism supports the social integration of a people rather than assimilation because integration is a two-way process of cultural transfer, respect and understanding; multiculturism therefore leaves an ethnic minority with various features of its indigenous culture. In contrast, assimilation is a one-way process of social absorption which is now somewhat out of favour with sociologists and replaced in desirability by integration.
However, the New Zealand-Chinese experience is that the youngest children particularly seek acceptance, acculturation and assimilation into the dominant culture; as adults with a greater or lesser degree of remaining Chineseness they are comfortable, tolerated and integrated within the environment of multiculturism; but since a dominant culture prevails, their offspring continue the advance of assimilation within their families. This progression of assimilation is in keeping with the American experience of Asian and other migrants.(40)
The young New Zealand-Chinese realised too, that their better futures required education and whether with parental consent or not, they sought university education. In one remarkable bound, 92 of them, including about one third of the refugee children, graduated from university between 1945 and 1961.(41) With that, they gave further proof of the capacity of the Chinese to do well in New Zealand. They widened the Chinese base of occupations, improved their social status, and provided models for the young Chinese in New Zealand to follow.
As a result, a high proportion of the young New Zealand-Chinese of rural Cantonese descent go to university today at two to three times the rate for the total population.(42) The chief direction of these young Chinese seems to be towards the professions rather than commerce. Second generation Chinese professional families have emerged, and are New Zealand-born. They are climbing higher in their professions, progressing, say, from the general practitioner father to the specialist son. Of course, settlement is not a uniform process within a community; it is a range of progress, with a vanguard of families and a tail. The ‘tail’ referred to here is formed by the Cantonese propensity for chain migration, whereby those still with strong family ties in China on either spouses’s side bring their relatives if possible to New Zealand. These arrivals become included among the least assimilated Cantonese Chinese. They principally work in labouring tasks in small Chinese supermarkets, restaurants, takeaways and the like which have since succeeded market gardens, fruitshops and laundries; but their children often follow the example of the ‘vanguard’ and become graduates.
In the main, the long-established Chinese families in New Zealand can be said to have substantially undergone assimilation and many have tertiary education. They are entering most aspects of New Zealand life as confident New Zealanders of Chinese ancestry. The concept of multiculturism now pervading New Zealand enables them to explore their remaining Chineseness, but they do that from a New Zealand base. An observer calls them a ‘"model minority", unobtrusive, law-abiding, and undemanding - a largely middle-class, well-educated, and low profile group untroubled by any concerns of ethnicity.’(43) In 1984, Bateman’s New Zealand Encyclopedia reported that ‘The Chinese minority in New Zealand today is highly respected and is regarded as one of the most successfully integrated groups in the country.’
New Zealand has become their home and country. They have changed from being New Zealand-Chinese to Chinese-New Zealanders, a new ethnic entity. This full acceptance is the greatest achievement of the writer’s generation and his childrens’, earned by mixing with and facing and sharing the obligations of the wider society. The writer has witnessed in Dunedin, Otago, how local Chinese young folk have made life-long friendships with European-New Zealanders, and then - especially as doctors, lawyers, accountants and other graduates - have progressively uplifted the image of their community. The racial climate in New Zealand generally has advanced for the good since the 1950s. In truth, the readiness of their European and Maori friends to accept the Chinese and apologise for past prejudices makes them proud to be part of such an equitable nation as New Zealand is today. For their part, a greater knowledge of their history in New Zealand has given them a better understanding of why things developed as they did.
For example, if they had been early New Zealand-Europeans instead of Chinese, how would they have regarded the latter’s worth to the young years of the nation - as aliens, sojourners and competitors with very little social bonding to the dominant British? It was not then realised that such a different race as the Chinese could successfully settle and contribute like any other race in New Zealand. Nor was it generally known that because their way of life was so different, their social adaptation best began with their young children, particularly those nine years and under who could go through most of New Zealand’s school system. It was, and still is, in the schools that different peoples best mix together and get used to each other; but even now, there is ignorance of the longish time it takes for the acceptance of different communities to mature on both sides - in the writer’s experience, as much as a generation (30 years) in time, plus additional time for individuals each to add to that acceptance by making their mark and gaining seniority in society.
It cannot be denied, though, that the New Zealand-Chinese settlement proceeded with a lot of luck. It was lucky that China and Formosa were spurned so the young Chinese of the writer’s generation felt no obligation to go and help in those unhappy lands. Thus they could concentrate on settlement here and there was no influx of new Chinese immigrants to distract them, certainly no big influx like that of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Being a small minority which was scattered all over New Zealand, they did not evoke resentful visions of competition to the dominant society, especially because New Zealand had very prosperous times in the 1950s and 1960s with plenty of work. So there was no need to fight for jobs, and being increasingly New Zealand-born, the young Chinese had no problems either with legalised discrimination - which seemed to them to be steadily eliminated from the laws and regulations in any case.
In summary, the third era was a continuum of the Cantonese goldseekers of last century, the links going back to them forged by chain migration from China. These Cantonese descendants comprise what may be regarded as the traditional or long-standing or ‘Kiwi’ Chinese community in New Zealand, which by immigration, natural increase and much freer intermarriage, numbered in 1986 about 13,000 full-blood and 4,000 Chinese-European and Chinese-Maori mixed-blood persons; or 0.5% of the total population.(44) Their full-blood members were a close-knit ethnic group in that they knew much about each other, and their families were often linked by kinship or marriage ties. But other Chinese were already coming to New Zealand and, in 1986, there were over 9,000 other full and mixed-blood Chinese here, particularly consisting of Indo-Chinese refugees and Pacific Island Polynesian-Chinese who had chiefly arrived in the 1970s.
4. (1986- ). The era of newcomers.
From 1986, considerable new immigration of Chinese from yet other origins pushed up the total number of Chinese in only ten years to over 81,000, and ushered in a new fourth era. In this short time a surge of Asian immigration has altered forever the composition of New Zealand’s population. In the long term, this surge will probably push the country more towards Asianisation. As to the immigrants themselves, the biggest ethnic group has comprised Chinese unrelated to the ‘Kiwi’ Chinese. Their integration with the wider society is proceeding as well as can be expected, but it is already clear that New Zealand has gained a larger, permanent, quality Chinese minority with more recent links to Asia.
By 1986 it was increasingly evident that New Zealand was turning to Asia for much of its livelihood. When the White New Zealand policy was being formulated, New Zealand had very little trade with China and little with the rest of Asia. But New Zealand now has to accept a fundamental truth, that free commerce between nations grows only in an atmosphere of trust, mutual respect and equality. A proof of equality lies in immigration policy, and as former Deputy Prime Minister Don McKinnon once expressed it; ‘We will find these markets much harder to penetrate, and some may close if we are seen to be vigorously marketing into them, but at the same time at home are seen to be saying "We don’t want your investment or your people here".’(45)
The fact that New Zealand was becoming more aware of its proximity to Asia was only one significant reason for changes in its immigration policy. In the 1970s there was much discussion about immigrants and immigration, notably criticism of British and Pacific peoples in the early years of this decade and the relatively smooth entry of 7546 Indo-Chinese refugees (about 80% of whom were ethnic Chinese)(46) between 1975-87. Consequently, there was dawning support for drawing on wider sources of origin for immigrants, and the very beginnings of that support effected small changes in racial entry rules from 1965-74. A number of Chinese from various homelands were permitted residence in this period. Among them were Peter Chen (physical education lecturer) and his four talented daughters who include Mae Chen (lawyer); Ming Cher (writer); Tak Hung (Zenith Technology Ltd); Norman Lau (administrator in forestry); Judge Margaret Lee; Professors S.H. Ng and Jilnaught Wong; A.C. Tan (telecommunications engineer) whose three offspring David, Audrey and Michael have all been notable academically; and Steven Wong (Fresher Foods Ltd). Jack Yan, who has a Fashion on Internet business, probably came in this period but Professor K.M. Goh and the late Professor Frank Liu came a little earlier.
The Labour Party had prominent Yugoslav supporters who reinforced the party’s thinking on broadening the immigration sources.(47) The Hon. Kerry Burke, Minister of Immigration in the new, reforming Labour Government of 1984-90, personified the new thoughts on trade expansion and wider immigration origins. He said to the writer that he was determined to aim for ‘a more simple and just immigration system’ which would choose solely on the quality of the applicant rather than give preference to places of origin. He said he was not influenced by the economic state of New Zealand, nor by the net outflow of migrants then occurring, nor by the contemporary Hong Kong exodus - but he was impressed by the good character of the Yugoslav and Kiwi Chinese peoples. Burke knew that the communist regimes in Yugoslavia and China were still - or had been - largely denying emigration, but he thought the Fijian Indians would respond to a relaxation of New Zealand’s immigration rules - as indeed happened when the military coup occurred in Fiji in 1987.
Burke drew up the new immigration policy passed by his government in 1986.(48) He was aware his policy would change the New Zealand population ‘more than any time since Captain Cook’, a change he personally welcomed. He was assisted by a government subcommittee of four and the Assistant Secretary of Labour (Immigration) - initially Ron Gates and then particularly Gordon Shroff, with their own advisors.(49) The first fruits of this new policy were several hundred Fijian Indian students. Burke left New Zealand from 1991-98, but commented to the writer that some of the measures of the mid-1990s were ‘disguised racism’. In relation to the English language test of that time, he said that the United States, ‘the most successful immigrant nation in the world, merely requires literacy in the applicant’s own language.’
From 1986 the long-established Occupational Categories were permitted to recruit immigrants from among all races. More boldly, the existing Entrepeneur and Business Immigration Policy (which was a stagnant programme) was changed from the approval of proposals to the approval of people of all races who wished to become self-employed business people or investors in New Zealand, and had starting capital plus some NZ$150,000 for personal establishment costs. The new scheme became known as the Business Immigration Policy or BIP, and had the explicit intention of attracting self-employed business migrants with money who, it was thought, would positively stimulate their chosen fields of endeavour whatever these might be in New Zealand. This was a challenging assumption, but it has American proof that given legal protection as for all citizens, ethnic groups who take traditions of self-employment overseas and have capital ‘are much more likely to start in and succeed at business upon arrival.’(50) However, the truly fundamental change in the revised policy and regulations was the full opening up of entry to races from non-traditional sources. In this, New Zealand had at last followed similar measures in the United States (1965), Canada (1967) and Australia (1973). Thus the second of the twin pillars of the White New Zealand policy (racial preference in entry and naturalisation) was apparently dismantled. Simultaneously, the new policy of 1986 also reviewed the family reunification, refugee and humanitarian categories of immigration but left these more or less unchanged.
Permanent and Long-term Migration (for a year or more), June 1984-85 to 1999-2000 (including New Zealanders).
Year Arrivals Departures
Source: Immigration Fact Pack, July 2000.
A net outflow was interrupted by increased (notably Asian) immigration until the latter in turn was interrupted by new immigration rules.
The BIP, the broad terms of which could permit large inflows, generally took a little time to catch on (Table 1). But to European eyes, New Zealand as a migrant destination was ranked 17th out of 22 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.(51) To Asian eyes, however, New Zealand was more attractive, being in a sense on the periphery of Asia and a safe, green haven which offered good access to sound educational facilities for children.(52) Moreover, the BIP was less stringent than the entry requirements for North America and Australia.(53) The then existing exodus from Hong Kong meant that some Hong Kong Chinese migrants could regard New Zealand as another haven.(54) By 1988, over 30 immigration consultancies in Hong Kong were touting New Zealand.(55) The Hong Kong Chinese interest in migrating to New Zealand spread to Taiwanese and Malaysians. Other Asians were also attracted at this stage, but in smaller numbers (Table 2).
Till we meet again - Regards - edmondsallan