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To beat Covid-19, European New Zealanders need to stop taking for granted essential services provided by crowded migrant communities who reside, out of sight and out of mind, south of the Auckland Isthmus, between the Tamaki River & Manukau Harbour

To beat Covid-19, European New Zealanders need to stop taking for granted essential services provided by crowded migrant communities who reside, out of sight and out of mind, south of the Auckland Isthmus, between the Tamaki River & Manukau Harbour

By Chris Trotter*

It appeared in my Post Office Box last week: a 48-page, text-heavy, publication calling itself “The Real News”. With Auckland once again at Alert Level 3 and the rest of New Zealand at Level 2, this publication should probably be classed as “Objectionable” by the Chief Censor. It is certainly dangerous enough. Filled with just about every conspiracy and anti-vaccination theory currently circulating about the Covid-19 Pandemic, The Real News comes as close to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre as I have encountered in a lifetime of defending free speech.

Just how dangerous efforts like The Real News can be was made clear by the Auckland City Councillor, Efeso Collins. Speaking to Jack Tame on TVNZ’s Q+A current affairs programme on Sunday morning – just three hours into the lockdown – Collins repeatedly warned the viewing audience that a significant number of the Pasifika people he represents believe in one or more of the many conspiracy theories currently circulating in South Auckland.

He warned of the difficulties that lay ahead in convincing his constituents to accept vaccination against Covid-19 – let alone comply with the rules of lockdown. Just a few hours after appearing on Q+A, Collins tweeted that he had received a number of messages urging him to “repent”, and calling upon “the church” to excommunicate him, for supporting a vaccine roll-out in South Auckland. Publications like The Real News, and the people who peddle their lies on social media, have a lot to answer for.

The comment that struck me most forcefully in Collins’ interview with Tame, however, was his almost throwaway statement that there were whole streets in South Auckland where English – as opposed to Samoan, Tongan or Hindi – was a foreign language. In other words, quite literally, the official messages concerning Covid-19 – and the citizen’s role in combatting it – are not being absorbed by a significant percentage of what is, almost certainly, the most volatile epidemiological environment in New Zealand.

South Auckland isn’t just the location of this country’s largest and most important airport. It is also the place where the goods that arrive in the country’s largest city from all over the world are warehoused. Though not many of Auckland’s better-off citizens often do, one can drive for kilometre after kilometre past these vast structures, out of whose high doors pass the big rigs loaded with everything New Zealand no longer makes.

It was the factories these warehouses have largely replaced that provided the original impetus for the Pacific Island migration that in the 1960s and 70s transformed Auckland into the largest Polynesian city on Earth. Though the car-assembly plants have long-since closed down, the Pasifika workforce remains.

Every night, from the suburbs of Otara, Mangere, East Tamaki, Papatoetoe and Manukau thousands of Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island, Maori and South Asian workers head into the heart of Auckland City to clean the offices of its business enterprises large and small. They perform the same role in its schools and universities, its hospitals, and – crucially – its old people’s homes. Yes, that’s right, the frail elderly – Covid’s favourite victims – are increasingly being cared for by members of the crowded migrant communities who reside, out of sight and (until now) out of mind, south of the Auckland isthmus, between the Tamaki River and Manukau Harbour.

Fenced-in, almost literally, by motorways. Located, seemingly permanently, at the bottom of politicians’ priority-lists. Heaped with praise for their cultural vibrancy, but not rewarded for it by the presence of white pupils in their public schools, South Aucklanders (like people of colour everywhere) provide their paler compatriots with all manner of “essential services” – at bargain basement rates.

The American sociologist, Mike Davis, has written a great deal about this phenomenon, most eloquently in his seminal study of Los Angeles, “City of Quartz”. More recently, however, his gaze has been drawn away from the spatial segregation of the races within the great cities of the United States and towards the sprawling super-cities of the Third World. Long before Covid, Davis recognised the terrifying potential of these vast, densely-populated communities to become the Petri-dishes for epidemiological disaster. In his terrifying 2006  study, “Planet of Slums”, Davis writes: “today’s mega slums are unprecedented incubators of new and reemergent diseases that can now travel across the world at the speed of a passenger jet.”

Touching down in South Auckland.

It stretches the imagination to believe that the people of South Auckland are unaware of the roles assigned to them by the dominant culture. Young Pasifika, Maori and South Asians, in particular, eager to participate in the excitement of twenty-first century urban life, will feel keenly the limitations of opportunity implicit in their subordinate socio-economic situation. Unless delivered with extreme sensitivity, by people they trust, the messages of the New Zealand State are likely to be received with (at best) scepticism or (at worst) outright hostility. The stark contrast between what the dominant culture says – and what it does – ensures that such resistance is more-or-less baked-in.

If European New Zealanders – “Palangi” – are generally perceived as deficient in their understanding of, and respect for, the distinct and extremely proud cultures of the South Pacific, their receptiveness to suggestions that the pronouncements of politicians and public servants should not to be taken as the last word on reality is understandable.

Among the intensely pious communities of faith in South Auckland this unwillingness to be swayed by the ideas of godless scientists is very strong – as the “excommunication” demands alluded to in Efeso Collins’ tweet attest. Throw the Covid-related social media explosions of racist bullying into the mix, and the ease with which the pedlars of claims that Covid-19 is a hoax – or even a plot – are able to attract followers is readily explained.

If the growing Palangi consensus in favour of making the vaccination of South Aucklanders a priority is not to be perceived by its intended beneficiaries as confirmation of their status as essential – but unreliable – cogs in the big white machine, then Jacinda Ardern and her colleagues are going to have to radically re-jig their communications strategy.

Such an exercise would not only need to address meaningfully the many cultures of South Auckland, but also the easy assumptions and prejudices of the dominant culture itself. It will take more than words, to break through the resentment and suspicion of people who have been treated for far too long as means rather than ends. Deeds will be needed – as proof of the Government’s good faith. A sharp lift in wages and benefits might be a good start.

Without such gestures of good will, Full Court Press, publisher of The Real News, can be assured of a receptive audience for its new magazine. That cannot possibly be in the national interest. The same might also be said about the attitude of the woman I encountered in my local park, just a few hours after Alert Level 3 came into effect.

“I don’t mean to be judgemental, but …”, she growled, glaring balefully at the state house from which the unmistakeable harmonies of Pasifika hymn-singing were rising. For this Epsom matron, the music was evidence that a very clear violation of the Level 3 rules was in progress. I drew two rather different conclusions: that faith could never be dictated to by science – no matter how incontrovertible; and that this problem – if problem it was – had just moved a lot closer to home.

*Chris Trotter has been writing and commenting professionally about New Zealand politics for more than 30 years. He writes a weekly column for His work may also be found at

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Our ancestors gave them religion. Just as they gave China opium. It's come back to bite us on the bum.

Belief - as compared to dispassionate research and conclusion-finding - would probably be the final judgement in the history books, on why the human irruption collapsed. If they get written......

Trotter is not immune to belief himself, either, methinks. How about one looking at the overarching Limits to Growth, Chris? And how all the GDP-believers have to be put through re-programming courses..... They're a bigger, more worrisome cohort than the already-disenfranchised.

You are conflating two ideas. Religion is something a person does, because that's what is done. Faith is the belief that what one does has a bearing on reality. I guarantee that around half of the people in any major house of religious practice do not actually have faith, they're just doing what is done, in some cases, to be seen to be doing it, in other cases, because there isn't in their view, alternatives.

So just as nothing is discovered until a European finds it, no one has a religion until they are also given that as well?

But yes Trotter is confused, maybe he has got to that third stage ie 'stale', I mean if people believe in that ultimate conspiracy, 'religion,' then they will believe in anything.


Alienation is the key word. The Government, one year ago, had a Covid-sent opportunity to relieve poverty and increasing inequality, by introducing the $250-a-week basic income advocated by TOP, tempered by a comprehensive 33% flat tax rate. Or at the very least by implementing in full all the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, and paying for them by some form of wealth or land tax.
It refused to do so, and instead poured petrol on the fire by throwing billions at big business and houses.
Now we pay the price of Jacinda Ardern's folly.
Jack Tame interviews Carmel Sepuloni, who admits benefits not enough:

No it didn't, because the TOP base-line premise was fatally flawed. As is the premise of all other Parties, currently.

What we do is extract, process, consume and eject resources. They are sourced from a finite planet, best-first, and the regime has been increased exponentially. Money is merely a proxy. Ask what for? and it's: to be cashed-in for some portion of the resource-flow. The caveat is: per head.

So when we reach the upper flow limit (entropy-limited via energy and source degradation/depletion) we can still have per-head equity, but not at the upper consumption-rate. Further, the lowering resource/energy lid, coupled with increasing maintenance demands (of energy and resources) means that even equity per head, will be at reducing consumption-rates.

And the system you accept, issues ever-more proxy.......... which must render it ever-less-valuable, per token. TOP perhaps suffers from it's economic origins....

That's gobbledegook. I'm talking about food on the table, and being able to feel one is a member of New Zealand society.

Are you saying that multiple families crowded into state houses, up to 23 to a single house, receiving welfare, cant put food on the table? I dont believe you

Think again pdk. The TOP policy is not magic but it eliminates massive resource waste in the manner in which benefits and the tax system operates. So whilst clearly not yet aligning to your science based approach, it is a valuable step in getting there. Not one other party comes close in this respect.

Yes, they were the only party actually wanting to get polluters pay for their pollution. Such a policy change would hopefully encourage people to think about outputs by literally accounting for them. The next step is accounting for inputs costs as well... which given the right levers, leads to a circular/sustainable economy. Yes there would be backlash and the need to quite dramatically change lifestyles - a step in the right direction compared to what others are doing (which is just flavours of PDK's maligned GDP based economic measures of success).

Jack Tame and Simon Sheppard are the two best TV journos in NZ, hands down. It is a shame that to see their interviews one must shake themselves off from the standard Friday and Saturday night binge at the ungodly hour of 9am. But it is well worth the effort. Great interviewers and range of guests.

Simon is way ahead of Jack in getting information from the interviewee. No ego in the way or trying to score points. Simon interviewed Kelvin Davis last year and instead of it being the usual train wreck of stammering and prepared quotes, he got him at ease enough so that he could be actually interviewed and we got to hear what he was thinking. It was the first time I could really judge if Kelvin was fit for the office he held.
So well done Simon.


Wow many European kiwis provide essential services too. Many wealthy Asians in remuera..

Correct but with east Asians now not a minority in AKL your point only seeks to reinforce the points Chris makes. That is, a disproportionate number of ethnic groups are marginalized in NZ society and this is exacerbated in a Pandemic.

It was an East Asian (Chinese) 16 year old girl from south Auckland who was involved in stealing and wrecking my car. That was 4 years ago - hopefully older and wiser now. But yet another exception that demonstrates how stupid these ethnic categories are. Can't we just call her a Kiwi? And all those PI's in South Auckland they are Kiwis too; they have residency and usually citizenship and most of them have a choice and decided to live in New Zealand.

Generalisations are the epitome of ignorance... I'm an individual and don't care who is who..

Great article.
Aspects that the vast majority of middle class NZ neither have experience of or consider.

Why consider something you were never asked to happen...

You didn't ask to feel the effects of gravity but I bet you consider it. But hey put your head in the sand because you didn't ask the world to be the way it is.


My point is I'm an individual and not responsible for others poor choices. You could argue the govt neglects male suicide and boys education. Something as a lefty you would never acknowledge... Head out of the sand lol.. Try getting a job at the council in Auckland if you are Anglo male.. Your a tribal hack like trotter.

I think you are projecting a bit here buddy..

Are you a lefty?.... Buddy


40% of Auckland's population were born outside NZ. Multiple segments of that group are similarly challenging to reach (as Pasifika) compared to native NZrs. Many have strong elements of faith based beliefs to their culture. Trotter emphasises south Auckland based Pasifika as being the 'cogs in the big white machine' when clearly said machine is distinctly multi coloured. He seems to patronisingly believe they are more susceptible to C19 loonies than other migrant groups. I'm guessing he isn't earbashed with improbable conspiracies all that often by uber drivers of multiple ethnicities.

It's the common narrative isn't it? The idea that people of colour serve white people. But it's much more nuanced than that.

For whatever reason, large numbers of Pasifika have been coming to NZ in droves since 1960's. Most of the earlycomers have been assimilated. English is now their first language. They are the largest part of their community. Who are these Pasifika cohorts who can't speak english and require interpreters. When the talking heads wheel out Efeso Collins you know who they are talking about. Collins only pokes his head up when the angst is aimed at his constituents

puketepapa...and these people who have been coming here in droves are kiwis who are equal to us in every way. However, we need to look at the possibility that we have been making serious errors of judgement in regard to how negative the overall impact of mass immigration is on NZ. Of course (unlimited) immigrants are positive for society in some ways but IMO it has become obvious to most that our immigration settings are causing far more harm than good unless you are a property investor or business owner who profits from foreign slave labour. At least let us get this out in the open and have the conversation.

Group identity is an everyday feature of NZ society
Maori and Pasifika constantly self identify as the disadvantaged
They don't claim to be kiwi, instead claiming separateness
Government institutions persist in group identification, particulary NZ Statistics
Aoranga Tamariki trumpet it from the rooftops
Try incarceration, child poverty, its in everyone faces all the time
Today on radio Dr Bloomfield did it

puke... do not see how your reply to my post has anything to do with what I wrote?

Read your first sentence
It is either very specific or it is intentionally ambiguous
How do you know they are all "kiwi"
My definition of "kiwi" is probably narrower than yours definition of kiwi is anybody who has NZ citizenship or residency regardless of where they were born or how long they have lived here. If we have given somebody PR or residency , in my view we need to accept them as kiwis. Like having a kid, it cannot be changed and you have to treat your kids well regardless of how negatively they may impact your life. But you can certainly take action to ensure you do not have any more kids if you feel they will be a net negative on your life. So in my view it is high time that NZ seriously consider scheduling an urgent hysterectomy. Failure to do so IMO will be likely to cause serious harm to our way of life.

How should we account for 30,000 overstayers in South Auckland I said anybody with PR or citizenship which overstayers do not have. In most countries if you are caught overstaying you are deported and banned from that country for a specified amount of time usually determined by the length of time you were ILLEGALLY in the country. If you choose to break the law and are caught there are consequences. The immigration laws are designed to protect the citizens of those countries.
I spend 3 or 4 months a year in the USA and 2 months in Thailand. If I overstayed my USA visa by even one day and was caught I would be deported and banned from returning for at least several years, regardless of how many kids or wives I had in the USA. In Thailand they are more lenient. I can overstay one day, anything more and I am fined, deported and banned from returning for a set time. If I knew there would be no consequences should I overstay I would do so regularly (as do many people in NZ) but because I know that, as a guest of those countries, if I do not follow their rules and laws I will be unwelcome in their country. Obtaining residency in either country, you can pretty much forget it.
Much like the housing crisis, it is NZs fault that we are in this mess, and because of that we should consider some kind of amnesty where most long term overstayers can apply and obtain PR. However, for the good of our country we need to adopt the same kind of strict immigration policies as countries like the USA and Thailand from now on. Regardless of family connections in NZ it should be clear that if you break the rules (or law) you are out and unwelcome back. Overstaying is a problem that needs to be solved.

Unfortunately NZ has had to try legal slavery cases in NZ very recently and even more unfortunate it was people of the same culture who were the abusers and exploiting migrants from the country they were born in. Just because slavery and exploitation attitudes are more accepted overseas does not mean we should accept them here just because it is coming from their own culture. We already have this problem with women's rights and access to education being restricted. Just because it is a practice generations old it does not make it ok. We should not respect physical, financial and social harm inflicted on victims within NZ borders. Exploitation and slavery of migrants in NZ is never acceptable no matter what culture it comes from. The social and medical harm extends beyond generations and transcend borders back to the Pacific nations to the extended communities. Yet when people try to adapt cultural views to NZ law or try to modernise their own culture to accept medical practices from over hundreds of years they get abused for it, by their own church. Churches that have forced tithing in communities with entrenched poverty as the church managers drive Porsches and BMWs...

Yeah come back when NZ does not have modern slavery and exploitation cases within even the last decade that are introduced by other cultures & religion. When the government has a harder stance on slavery in NZ and exploitation, stands against social & financial abuse of workers, when we have an actually representative punishment and recompense then we can point fingers at cultural exclusion. That will be the heat death of the universe considering our govt reactions to Gloriavale and more recent migrant exploitation cases; not even deporting the slave owners and in many cases letting them off the hook for some reprehensible crimes. How can NZ have any chance for protecting exploited migrants when we offer them no real justice or recompense within our borders and actually go a lot further in protecting the abusers positions even though they do not recognize themselves as NZ citizens either.

If we know it is bad why accept it as part of modern culture simply because it is not kiwi culture? If anything we have allowed far worse to continue because of the fear in upholding justice to cultural practices. Yet this article is even worse apologizing for being so medically irresponsible, which was never acceptable back in the home country but making it seem like the very real threat to human life must be accepted because of "cultural reasons". You should have learnt after the measles outbreak irresponsibly spreading a contagious deadly disease was not and never was an accepted part of pacific island culture. Also apologizing because a twenty something is "too young" for adult and mature values is also terrible because NZ has already expected them to have enough mature values for a vehicle license, a gun license and substantial drinking and purchases of alcohol. You cannot pretend all underdogs are noble when some are just bad and considered irresponsible, selfish, ignorant within their own culture. You cannot also expect NZ to bend and break its laws to accept horrible slavery practices just because it is culturally more acceptable outside of NZ. We already still have miles to go for recognizing human rights in NZ don't take us back centuries simply because you as an outsider decided we must accept it as part of another culture (whether it is regarded as so or not by people within that culture and in the case of spreading covid it very much is not).

Powerfull stuff Pacifica
I dont think non-pacifika appreciate the control and influence of the church
"they get abused for it, by their own church. Churches that have forced tithing in communities with entrenched poverty as the church managers drive Porsches and BMWs"

The church is a mighty weapon to control the populace. You can see it in how children are treated. Yet it is still the same old community that enforces the will of the church and the ostracism that goes with not obeying and tithing. When each person decides not to be the hand that hits poor families who step out of line hardest that is when the power of the church is lost. There is no moral good in the church, just mortal power and cult control dynamics. Being forced to go to religious schools that preached a hard line against moral and intellectual improvement, forced roles and breeding in the community and seeing the devastation on LGBQTIA friends and family I will never doubt the church is powerful but it is more often now used to powerfully harm the most vulnerable. Calling it a gang would be more appropriate and in NZ we have a gang problem as many in the community wrongly associate wealth with moral righteousness & intelligence (easily disprovable in the current climate), wrongly assume being in a group is worth more than the very real financial, physical, emotional, social and spiritual harm the group does and then tries to dictate medical practices with no science backing. The trouble is though humans are still tribal so what do we replace the gangs with? A common sense of nationalism, hah no. That is never going to happen again.

pacifica... nice post. I agree with all that you say. I feel Pacifica culture is more hierarchical than NZ culture which is part of the issue. Even one of our Pacifica MPs was jailed for abusing immigrants through his place in the structure. In my view a good number of our South Asian "new NZers" are selling PR and citizenship in return for slave labour, which as you say needs to be stopped. PR and citizenship should be automatically revoked and the transgressor deported and banned from NZ for life if a new NZer commits any crime within 20 years of obtaining PR. If they have family they have the option to go with them but family here should not be an excuse for criminals remaining here. No appeal. ( yes DIC is a crime and they should go).
Where we may disagree is that IMO NZ has made a grave mistake allowing so many foreigners to work and live permanently in NZ and the issues you mention are just one negative aspect amongst many. We cannot easily work and reside in The Pacific Islands (although I did live in Rarotonga for 2 years) or India (where I spent 2 months) or most other countries for that matter and for good reason. Those countries feel that to allow us to do so would be detrimental to their own citizens who they are duty bound to protect, and rightly so. I just wish our Govt would consider our citizens more and move to stop mass immigration. With respect, why on earth do we still allow Cook Islanders to be NZ citizens and live and work here automatically? Why can't we offer NZ born people enough money so they are prepared to pick fruit? It may have been in NZs interests 40 years ago but times change and so should we.

I worry for the communities back in the islands. That NZ is a main travel destination and one of the only options for basic & necessary medical care like dialysis and cancer treatment, that NZs migrant workforce are being subjected to severe organ damage through the living and work conditions that are already recognized internationally as harmful; it makes sense that NZ should in some way offer to fix damage it has created. But then the pacific nations have many more citizens going without basic medical treatment access back home and that in itself is deprioritised to maintain the tribal hierarchy regardless of the lower est lifespans. There are families hurting because the pacific nations cannot maintain and run health services. Sure parents came to NZ originally on the promise of better jobs even though the skills needed were often low and unskilled, (with the skilled category including cleaners, wait staff, barristas, kitchen hands, checkout operators inc. liquor stores, basic line operators etc, jobs that young adults could fill) but now we know the damage exploitation, poor work & living conditions and separation from families back home mean long term. The PI nations need to be the beacon of their own success but that is not the case so long as the only solution for success is to leave the home country. In this many young kiwis can share the same anguish, that so much of the ability to be housed, healthy and in work requires leaving the country, not fixing and investing in improving the country to enable it locally.

How much of the FLP actually went to new business research and development, or even to FHB, and how much went into increasing speculation debt to existing investors. You almost don't need to ask because the answer is written large and in flashing neon lights. Like many before young PI will need to leave NZ for a housed healthy future (most skilled ones already have). We are just reflecting the issues here that only get fixed in other nations because they can fulfill Maslow's base level of needs to survive. In a way we need to have more than just a local investment movement but one for all PI nations. Yet given that investment funding only goes one way the chances of people in poverty being able to move out of poverty is crippled. Even the progressive ownership scheme is just a more discriminatory rebranding of developers creaming government benefits and security than through kiwibuild while few of the vulnerable actually benefit. In even the last few years lotto has been a more just and better distribution of funds and a better housing plan than the government. Which is the same problem in the PI. Too many in govt are not there to improve but to cream off the top at excessive wages and consultancy fees in economic management (while they can get "hacked" by making documents public or data poorly secured, bubbles grow, inequality worsens and local resilience to events is non existent). Covid is not a black swan event but I do fear an albino kiwi event coming. It will affect the PI just as much if not more than NZ because of our close ties & dependence rippling out.

pacifica... another nice post, Nothing in it I disagree with. Everything is becoming more and more slanted towards the wealthy at the expense of the poor. And unfortunately Pacifica and Maori are over represented in the lower socio economic group in NZ. I especially agree in regard to the FLP (and QE), the vast majority of the money has gone to the wealthy (by way of asset price inflation) and the ones hurt the most have been the ones who can least afford it. It was obvious this would happen.
The way I see it we need to do everything to prioritize the citizens of our country in the lower socio-economic group in relation to all issues including FLP, QE, immigration, house price inflation and rents.

This article continues the current popular over simplification of ethnic groups. It does have an important point to make about religion, poverty, language skills and acceptance of Covid-19 vaccinations - an epidemic that threatens us all without any concern for our skin colour.
Trying to assign characteristics to an ethnic group is a waste of time - there are simply too many exceptions. Mr Trotter's big white machine contains too many Maori millionaires (4 personal aquaintences), too many senior managers who are PI (I have a couple in my family) and his poor fervent christians in South Auckland who believe Covid-19 is a conspiracy are often white.
Please rewrite the article without its casual use of ethnicity in a way that divides us. What does divide us is class and inequality of wealth.

Classism divided not race. Marriage between races is high based on socio status not race.

Hence many do travel to NZ to escape punishment aimed at mixed race or mixed religion, or same sex couples. I would not say NZ is the best or even a good option in that regard though now, but it is an option. The stats around you likely meeting your future partner through training, social clubs or work holds true which is why most matchups often share socioeconomic status. However the internet is also doing it's bit to help buck that trend (while also bringing in new issues). There is a problem though that many kiwis are often forced to deny mixed race heritage in all govt dealings and identify as only single race/ethnicity. Which means many who identify as both or many often feel cut off and abandoned e.g. by iwi who class them as half caste to their faces and deny them access to their heritage. But then that is a factor that will hopefully die out as more and more NZ becomes multicultural and mixed. After all many in NZ have heritage spanning more than six separate cultures and ethnicities so classing everyone who is not fitting in the specific pigeon holes eight generations down the line as iwi approved or European only will get more insulting. Even nephews with african mixed heritage or friends with mixed asian heritage cannot chose to identify with it in NZ having to pick one option only and deny all other ties to be pigeon holed. I say bring on more open genetic testing as it not only allows people to prepare or know medical risks but opens up more data in migratory movements, family connections globally and close to the heart. We just don't need to go full gattaca like many govts do now. *cough* China *cough* But the migration around the Pacific is amazingly interesting and the development of language, and culture as the migration paths grew is a really interesting field of study. I even have relations in PNG and Jewish heritage which I had not connected to until the data was shared and more open (there was the habit of losing heritage due to being pigeon holed or like the Jewish family understandably changed names and mixed in when they got to NZ). But like all good kiwis we are told nay you can only be of one culture and if it is not one of these six small groups then you must be euro bro. Where is the mixed heritage beyond single classification in this multicultural society accepting of mixed race couples. Even the national icon Billy T James identified as more than one (or was that just a bad joke against the scots).

pacifica.. again another nice post that I agree with especially about the socio-economic match-ups. I would go further and say that peoples socio-economic standing at birth creates huge barriers to an equal playing field in terms of financial success. I grew up in a middle class, predominantly white neighbourhood and mainly because of that joined the local upper class (predominantly white) golf club as a kid. Mixing with many older, rich and financially literate people and having access to their advice and knowledge I was able to use that to become (reasonably )wealthy at a young age. Now had I been born into a Pacifica family in South Auckland and joined Otahuhu Rugby League Club.........
It is not right and I would love to provide suggestions on how to make things more equal but I have no idea. It is very unfair and will divide our society more and more as time goes on. BTW: I think the Scottish thing from Billy T was humour. They still do reruns on MTV on Tues at 8pm.

Interesting Karl. This recent report in career aspirations shares your sentiment Yes coming from poor families is not impossible but it is the cultural influences affect the paths and education kids take. My family was broken and fractured at a young age, my partner also grew up in South Auckland having been kicked out of home at 13. The main discouragement to education and going to study was the cultural attitudes, parents and guardians. Being told to breed kids instead of study, being highly influenced by gangs, drug trade and getting abused for reading and science interest was common. When both of us went to get higher education it was seen as a joke by our families and in many ways still to this day still is even though engineers, medical professionals and techies are substantially better off. We chose that life because it was part of our make up more than the culturally valued future people tried to enforce on us. It was a constant fight with family, a need to abandon the culture just to study and in many ways it should not be that way. Why is education, and skilled work and achievement looked down upon compared to sports and breeding more humans? This is the same amongst others escaping the attitudes and cultural ties that hold them back from what they value in themselves and I met many along the journey who had traversed even rougher paths, a ex stripper who was a math genius and learned how to be a great wealthy analyst, a gay man who was abused horribly until they found a new family in friends instead and could start training what they wanted, a chinese girl who refused an arranged marriage to seek her own career, a sri lankan couple who broke off their arranged marriage so they could independently seek different science careers etc.

But funnily enough South Auckland also has a massive divide with some of the wealthy suburbs in it having millionaires and plenty of golfers rich enough to buy their kids homes. There is more poverty up and down the country than that in South Auckland and those in Auckland can face much lower costs of living as rent, food, transport etc can be much cheaper due to the scale. You want to see real poverty you often do not find it collected but more dispersed and hidden. Not housed and with jobs in South Auckland, (which also often includes much of NZ skilled manufacturing trade businesses). But the cultural overbearing importance of having children and sports is suffocating to those who have incredible and often heavily discouraged talents. One of the saddest things was to go speak at many South Auckland schools and see it in the students eyes the interest and great questions but at a careers day they were being heavily told sports & fitness sectors, carving& arts, cooking, care work, make up and hair dressing were what they should be aiming for with massive show pieces, not any tech. I saw a striking difference as the cultural values of the teachers and parents were again being forced on the kids yet many could and did have better questions than students in central Auckland or on the Shore (even though richer kids had much more science exposure). I demoed heart fluid modelling measurements where you could see the blood movement through the valves, stress testing of buildings, wind flow modelling, 3d modelling and games, coding etc. Many had never been shown internal organs before or considered the tech jobs in biotech or designing buildings and apps for mobiles in their pockets. If the parents do not value science then the children would face an uphill fight even trying to learn and improve themselves and in reality most people do not succeed in breaking out and free of the cultural roles assigned to us. No matter the inherent talents. You either abandon what your family values and suffer a great loss or give up on your ideals and have that part of you made dormant. Tough choice. Many only feel free to study much later in middle age after the kids have grown and left. Cultural change and evolution is far too slow. We have tech as immensely powerful tools, not as embodiment of other cultures, (the entire world owes to arabic number systems and developments combined worldwide), yet STEM and medicine are still discouraged and not valued much in NZ modern cultures. Pity. No wonder student achievement in STEM subjects is only getting much worse and people can be entrenched in poorer low skill roles.

Great comment pacifica. "Culture" can be quite restricting and oppressive. I am glad I am not burdened by it.

"Too many maori millionaires"??

Your survey sample size seems rather skewed. Because you know FOUR maoris that are millionaires you are denying the statistics that maori and PI communities have worse social outcomes than other ethnic groups, namely Pakeha?

According to NZ Stats 2018 Census, home ownership among Maori was 48%. Lot of millionaires there

I accept those figures but interpret differently. You wrote " that maori and PI communities have worse social outcomes than other ethnic groups " and if you are a statistician it is true (but usually qualified about % accuracy etc). But almost nobody is a statistician. Take any single Maori or any single PI (eg most of my family) you know and compare with a random Pakeha then that statement is untrue so often as to make it meaningless. Does it matter? - well it does because there is plenty of evidence that telling people they are likely to fail leads them to fail.
A scientific study in New York took a large group of 15 year old Afro-Americans just before they had an important maths test. Half were given a lecture about how their ethnic group performed badly at school and the other half were givena lecture about various role models succeeding over adversity. The first group did worse at the test - when the questions got hard they tended to give up.

"But almost nobody is a statistician". When we have a government agency of the same name, we don't need to be.

If you don't mind I probably won't go and "take any single maori and compare them with a random maori" as that my friend is sampling error.

Your last point on the new york study is valid and I believe the term is called priming. It has nothing to do with population health statistics.

Lapun, 64% of S&P500 firms have one or more African American directors, I would estimate the same number is around 10% for Maori and Pasifika within the NZX 50. If you look at senior exec's of NZX50, that's around 5%. Pretty lousy stat's and certainly not representative of the talent ix.

America is a different country. Senior exec's reflect attitudes, values and wealth distribution when they were children - say 30 years ago. Probably better to look at those graduating from university today. And I expect those figures would be bad [when my daughter was at college she mentioned most of the Maori girls left school at the earliest opportunity despite their abilities].
Most PI families arrived in NZ fairly recently and mainly for low paid work. It will take a couple of generations for them to catch up - judging by my family and many of their friends it is happening. Why Maori are less successful in NZX50 exec jobs I don't know. As I said in another comment I know few Maori but of the ones I do know about half are highly successful and far wealthier than me..
I agree with you NZ is wasting talent but casually applying ethnic labels is dangerously counter-productive.

Corporate US has embraced social equity (note I'm not saying the public in large have) and actively sought more representative board/management teams. They didn't wait and the talent was always there. Maori are under-represented in corporate NZ, but my sense is that is going to change. Why under-represented - partly cultural (Maori/PI are generally quite introverted and not the alpha socio paths that promote themselves), partly the wrong schools, demographics, lack of role models etc. That's not to say there aren't successful Maori business owners - but that;s not Corporate NZ.

Great piece Chris and the only commentary I have seen in recent days that cares to step past blaming people or the government and examine what is happening through sociological concepts. So too some practical insights for the govt communications program to consider to improve effectiveness - communicate in the language people understand!

It has certainly caused me to pause and think about things in a different way as it can be very easy to judge as I sit here "working from home", drinking my espresso coffee, on full pay, in a mostly caucasian, affluent, Auckland central suburb.

*cough* racist *cough* you assume these families could not understand any of the isolation and stay at home orders when they obviously did before and did at the time of the GP tests. Sometimes people just do not follow health recommendations when they are stated as recommendations. The she'll be right attitude is strong and only gets stronger with the less impact there is for breaching advice and recommendations. It is insulting to assume the family could not understand the advice given based on their culture alone even though they clearly had sufficient grasp of the language and previous lockdown requirements. It is not their culture that made them breach the health directives. That would imply that the culture is somehow not able to accommodate basic isolation orders that the rest of the country could and has. It was not a funeral they attended but not wanting to call in sick for a job due to the hassle, a desire to meet up and go to the gym for a luxury pastime that could have been done in isolation and was discouraged heavily through all cultural mediums over the course of a year.

Sheezh you are acting like we never had to cancel the Pasifika festival due to medical risks. A festival which is often held in affluent Auckland central suburbs which are more mixed race now than what you see in the coffee shops which primarily serve limited european beverages (although the good Peruvian and Argentinian places in central went bust years ago unfortunately; their pick me up drinks rocked). The fact the days were sunny and weekends were good and cancelling work a hassle had more impact on decision making than critical health advice is a problem but it is not one borne of culture or communication. Sometimes people just do not follow rules and that is represented just as much by caucasians as other ethnicities breaching the rules over lockdowns. You have to expect rule breaches in any society but it is how they are predicted and contained which marks a success in quarantine measures. NZ just does not care about rule breaches and the public know it more as time goes by. So why bother following recommendations if there is no real requirement to do so. Because it might kill someone you only have a passing contact with? Yeah you are asking people to care about the health of others so why do some burn treated wood & toxic waste in residential areas or break laws? There will always be someone. Just be thankful this group were not the ones spitting or coughing on purpose at others while crying they must be infected with covid.

Thanks, I enjoyed the article. There are definitely two New Zealands and I'm certainly guilty of living in a bubble.

Its the people who refuse to live in a bubble who are the guilty ones.

I get the impression that Trotter thinks that if we were all of the same one colour and culture there would be no underclass?

Clearly that would be a nonsense and thus so is the notion that the underclass exists because of colour or culture.

Is the notion that underclass exists because of colour or culture, nonsense?

Are you saying there is no historical mistreatment of certain ethnicities that has resulted in the inequalities we observe today?
Are you saying that there is no unconscious bias in our society that opresses certain ethnicities to improving their quality of life?
Are you saying that our immigration policies attracting large groups of certain ethnicities from poorer countries to do the low paid work in our country is not perpetuating inequality?


Nope none of the above. The fact is the structure of our system means we have winners and losers. Trying to lift one group will not change this. The false narrative out there is that the bottom group is there because of their race (or whatever feature you can come up with).

So sure, we can swap things around so that red heads no longer exist in the bottom strata. But the red heads will be replaced with the new disadvantaged such as the orange heads. So are we then going to focus on the orange heads and swap them with the blonde heads?

My point that this is our system and such efforts are futile. The great achievements have occurred over time because we have high performing winners. We cannot all be winners.

Agree with your first statement Ras, and thinking of your previous posts, I assume though that you are not saying that there should not be efforts to close equity and opportunity gaps?

Part of the issue that CT alludes to here is that there is a degree of manipulation due to some sectors belief in "entitlement". As some groups are deprived or opportunity, equity and ultimately hope, while some get angry and lash out through crime and violence, others sink into belief systems often dominated by fundamentalist religious beliefs which carry baggage that has consequences. The best solution to these impacts is to ensure there is opportunity and a decent lifestyle available for everyone.

Equal opportunity is essential ( I do not agree with seperate education systems for example). But the socialists want to legislate equal outcomes which is a sure path to economic and social destruction.


The author did not need to attach his name to the article. It has so many hallmarks of his classic, PC virtue signalling mush that it was obvious to all who penned it.
It seems that we are not forward thinking enough in our immigration policies and are reaping what we sow. As with the ISIS bride it was probably our fault for allowing his parents to be part of a culture of mass migration. We need to be kind to our neighbours in the Pacific (and people all over the world for that matter) but need to carefully examine the question of whether most of them are "net negative migrants" for NZ society and should not be given PR or even work or student visas. I believe we are now almost continuously seeing evidence that we have got it wrong and need to change.
Auckland water shortage, traffic problems including the new harbour bridge issue, pollution, house price inflation and skyrocketing rents, unemployment, unforeseen costs such as extra MIQ expenses for dual citizens and of course the social and cultural issues (such as this case) that can cost our country billions of dollars. Why would we at least not want to have an open, public conversation about whether the negative contribution mass immigration has on the abovementioned things is offset by the positives of mass migration. Only then will we be in a position to make an educated assessment of what the best way forward is for NZ in relation to immigration. And of course if we do look at the issue carefully and find evidence that mass migration is a net positive that could only bring our country closer together. We just need to be sure we are heading in the right direction for NZ rather than being bullied into silence by the cancel culture PC brigade.

"The author did not need to attach his name to the article". One could say the same about comments that include those unthinking rightwing cliches "virtue signalling" "PC" "cancel culture". These say - ignore this comment!

oldbloke... FYI I am a-political so not right wing. I just believe the self-image promoting, virtue signaling, PC, cancel culture is a divisive cancer on society and should be removed. Take some time out to watch some funny intelligent opinions on it by the likes of Ricky Gervais, Dave Chapelle or Jim Jefferies.
And how are we doing on the vaccine roll-out. Are we still behind Guatemala, Rwanda and Bangladesh (and the rest of the world) in terms of our speed? No doubt you would not be interested in holding anybody to account, comparing results and judging performance. Just be kind eh.

Indeed. The government has deliberately pumped house prices and totally screwed over these people (and others).

Now the government badly needs these people to comply. I hope they tell Jacinda where to shove her lockdown and her vaccinations.

What a cringey, rascist article. People as individuals and family groups have the right to weigh up the pros and cons and make their own minds up on whether they want to be vaccinated

You are perfectly within your rights to be offended, as the saying goes "offense of taken and not given", but what part in particular did you think was racist and in what aspect?

you assume these families could not understand any of the isolation and stay at home orders when they obviously did before and did at the time of the GP tests. Sometimes people just do not follow health recommendations when they are stated as recommendations. The she'll be right attitude is strong and only gets stronger with the less impact there is for breaching advice and recommendations. It is insulting to assume the family could not understand the advice given based on their culture alone even though they clearly had sufficient grasp of the language and previous lockdown requirements. It is not their culture that made them breach the health directives. That would imply that the culture is somehow not able to accommodate basic isolation orders that the rest of the country could and has. It was not a funeral they attended but not wanting to call in sick for a job due to the hassle, a desire to meet up and go to the gym for a luxury pastime that could have been done in isolation and was discouraged heavily through all cultural mediums over the course of a year.

I have an idea for the best reality TV series ever. Married at First Sight featuring Chris Trotter and Ashley Church. Now those marital squabbles really would provide great viewing.

Conspiracy theories. Chris Trotter thinks with better messaging by europeans, those will be eliminated.
He's dreaming.

Chris Trotter making excuses for people acting irresponsibly - always someone else's fault.

"crowded migrant communities"

Thats a bloody cliché... and no more true than non-immigrant

A great article CT, and very diplomatically worded too, I might add. But I like the multiple swipes at the trains of economic experts who have either run the country or advised those who did such as .. "...pass the big rigs loaded with everything New Zealand no longer makes" and ...." the factories these warehouses have largely replaced...." and "Though the car-assembly plants have long-since closed down..."

All these are clear indicators of a significant issue the country MUST address, and COVID has driven a pointed lesson on resilience that if we do not address our combined resilience and socio-economic issues, communities such as CT refers to, heavily reliant on fundamentalist religious beliefs will be an increasing problem, as will crime and the costs of that as hopelessness, frustration and anger takes root.

Go easy on Chris.....we don't want to give him indigestion while he dines alfresco in Ponsonby.
Champagne socialist?

Yet it is the disabled who are the poorest, most marginalized, legally paid less than minimum wage, many not paid at all and most vulnerable to covid and that crosses ethnic and cultural lines. Complain about cultural bias when a single culture earns less than half that of non disabled and is denied access to over 98% of homes. Until then you are just promoting more ostracism and deprioritization of disabled lives and even worse promoting threatening them by reducing access to vaccines for those most at threat from covid with high chances of death. Even all basic medical supports have been stripped from many disabled due to this deprioritisation. Try being without cooked food for over a year and have no housing then get back and complain how tough it is for those paid minimum wage & child support with access to govt housing and support (meanwhile many disabled are denied all access to govt support and housing waitlists).

Maybe they were just kiwi families, and some members decided to ignore the rules.

Comments below indicate Chris, unfortunately most interest commentators are not remotely on your side of spectrum politically. That is, most are Right wing and some decidedly so

Right-wing in ideology except it seems when it comes to housing where you will find they are not so keen on the free market setting prices.

Comment of the day..

Te Kooti..should the free market also set the price of meth and assault rifles? (without the Govt trying to intervene). There should not be a free market in things that damage our society.

I genuinely don't know what your point is.

Yes, let's finally have free markets by removing landlord subsidies, treating all asset classes in exactly the same way from a taxation perspective, stopping the RBNZ's massive intervention resulting in the killing of price discovery and of risk pricing, and stopping its propping of the housing Ponzi.
Let's have the market freely discover the appropriate equilibrium level of interest rates and of asset prices, especially housing, without external interventions such as artificially keeping interest rates low by massive QE and by manipulation of bank funding.
THAT would be free markets.
What in have in NZ is anything but. Let's be honest about it.

Lame articles would never engender the comments I have read below. These are huge issues. If I was in Government I would be looking at having a Minister for South Auckland, coz we really need to work on the area "bounded by motorways" Chris you forgot the pylons. There is so much that needs fixing , the HEW's, Health Education Welfare. Getting any message across with the diversity is a nightmare.
Anyone heard what Bishop Brian wants to do to safe guard his tithing?

Fenced-in, almost literally, by motorways.

This is just ludicrous Trotter. Motorways are there to facilitate easy travel throughout the city. They are not fences. Just making stuff up, imagining things that don't exist, pretending to know what great swathes of people are thinking or feeling, being patronising and silly. The government of NZ is made up of a variety of diverse people. The so called "dominant culture" doesn't even have a culture, we are individuals and global citizens.

We need equality of opportunity and inequality of outcome. That's how humans evolve...

Trotter is using stuff media's current propaganda tool.. Identity politics. Everyone is a victim besides Anglo Celtic kiwis. Stuff has been writing articles every week about this. I guarantee that the Dutch and Dalmatians will get an article on stuff at some point about how the nasty Anglo treated them.

Didn't treat themselves too well either. Roughly when the treaty was signed my English ancestors changed the law permitting boys and girls to work in mines too narrow for pit ponies - they changed the age limit from age 9 to 8!

Yes that's very true.. However was is collective guilt applied to anglo saxons for things British did 200 years ago. I mean some clown just got Auckland locked down potentially bankrupting businesses and destroying lives.. And we are told to be nice...

Something strange about this article. I live in one of those South Auckland suburbs and there is a huge variety of ethnicities including many white New Zealanders like myself. And trust me many of the Indians cleaning at night have way more money in the bank than a lot of the office workers. You’re totally clueless mate.

A lot of those "South Asians" (only Trotter likes to call them that in NZ) have rental properties also. South Asians in the US are one of the richest groups and probably getting that way here too.

Exactly. I’ve seen their tax returns. Many have multiple rentals and very healthy bank accounts and investments. Rightly or wrongly they are very motivated by money. To paint South Auckland as mainly poor ignorant people is so ludicrous.

NZ land of a new segregation of community, the young to be enslaved to the old, the wealthy to extract govt money via the poor. A fragile shaky land team of 5million, where to poor get support which goes straight away to the pocket of the wealthy.

Palagi not palangi

What church is it that convinces all the rich Aucklanders fleeing level 3 towing boats to their holiday homes, possibly taking as yet undetected covid with them?
I feel the South Auckland community is being singled out unfairly, after all it is where 75% of the first to receive vaccinations in Auckland as border workers reside, so it should come as no surprise the virus finds its best opportunities among people here.
The strongest defence we have is ourselves, doing what needs to be done to stamp out any outbreaks, that, without the use of a highly functioning crystal ball will find innovative ways to get through a border that we cannot entirely shut. I can see why people in South Auckland might get a bit huffy about it all every time we have to make moves to stamp it out, seeing all those aforementioned rich bolting out of the city.
We ALL have to do our bit!!!!!

Who was it who brought the religion? The Settlers or ... somebody else?

"When the missionaries came to they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, "Let us pray." We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”

You left something out. Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other. Maori soon cottoned onto the second one.

Not for land though. It (the gun) was used for revenge, Utu!
Whenua was used as Tuku, gifting, or peacemaking or the settlement of a dispute.

The Real News is Advance NZ it seems. That is Billy TK etc. So more vacuous conspiracy gear.