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Insights 3: 3 February 2017
The New New Zealanders: Why migrants make good Kiwis
Beyond the fear factor: New Kiwis can be good for us all
Guy Williams discusses The New New Zealanders

Facts of immigration matter
Jason Krupp | Research Fellow |
Six months ago, when we started scoping the Initiative’s immigration report, we had a very specific audience in mind: Winston Peters. Our aim was to assemble all the available research and have a fact-based conversation with New Zealand’s most prominent immigration sceptic.

Judging by Mr Peters’ comments on Facebook, which were re-published in the Indian News Link community newspaper, we have failed. Not only does it look as if the leader of NZ First failed to crack the cover of the report, but he also appears to be gathering his alternative facts from his local supermarket.

Mr Peters’ lack of engagement was not entirely a surprise, especially as this report set out to debunk many of the myths surrounding the topic, and put the real facts of the matter on the table.

Many of these myths are comfortable, such as migrants are to blame for the housing crisis in Auckland. Instead, our report showcased research showing that red tape, Nimbyism, and Kiwis choosing not to venture overseas have a bigger effect than foreigners on house prices.

It also dispelled the notion that if a migrant takes a job it means one fewer job available for native born New Zealanders. The truth is that migrants are consumers too, and their demand for goods and services create opportunities for New Zealand businesses. Viewed this way, migrants can create jobs.

We also found that while many people are concerned that high levels of migration will dilute New Zealand’s culture, most people who move here integrate well. They have good employment outcomes, low benefit uptake rates, and educate their children to a high level. In fact, almost 9 out of 10 migrants said they felt part of New Zealand.

Seen from this perspective, it is obvious why we called the report The New Zealanders: Why migrants make good Kiwis. Based on the widespread media coverage and messages of support we have received over the week, many people agree with this sentiment.

Mr Peters is clearly not a part of this group. But as Upton Sinclair said: “it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Fenced out of a choice education
Martine Udahemuka | Research Fellow |
Misery loves company.

My misery: Trying to find a half-way decent, reasonably priced flat within walking distance to work that will not cost me an arm and a leg, during the busiest month of the year.

And my company presented itself when I met one of my competitors at a flat viewing two weekends ago. As well as dealing with the agony of finding a place to live he had to consider the bureaucracy of getting into a popular school as well as the hefty premium on a flat.

Because of maximum roll caps imposed by the Education Ministry he could not get his son in their preferred school as they lived outside its boundary. He had also missed out on the ballot.

Sure there is a role for government in public education but it is worth asking whether someone sitting in central Wellington should dictate to which school a parent should send their child.

Under the Education Amendment Bill 2015 matters were set to get worse for families. The Bill proposed greater powers for the Minister including fining schools that refused to erect a fence. Lucky the proposal was overturned.

The current system still provides wiggle room letting willing schools stretch to accommodate students. By removing voluntary zoning, the proposed system was going to further stifle school autonomy and opportunities for poorer students.

The intentions of zoning make sense. A school cannot be expected to take on an infinite number of students with finite resources. The set up also gives the local children dibs at the local school.

It is a good thing the envisioned new powers were overturned but the existing fences still make the poor students who cannot move, the losers. But imagine if popular schools could set up offshoots in an area with fewer popular schools?

What is worrying most about my competitor’s case is that his wanting to go to the popular college was based on the misconception that the school’s high decile necessarily means it is academically superior to the lower decile schools in his current neighbourhood.

Worst case scenario is that he found his family a shoebox flat so his son can attend a school that ends up not being the best school for him anyway.

On my part, I now have a 70-minute commute by car rather than the 10 minutes by foot I envisioned. But at least I do not have kids. 

Welcome home
Dr Eric Crampton | Head of Research |
Every American election brings howls of outrage from supporters of the losing side. It’s pretty common to hear about all the people who will move to Canada, or to New Zealand, because of how awful the winning candidate is. 

It’s almost always cheap talk. Uprooting your family to move somewhere else is a big decision, and a lot more expensive than expressing your outrage with hyperbolic statements.

This time, it’s looking a bit different for non-citizens living in the US. The American government always made it pretty clear to non-citizens on visas, and permanent residents, that they are tolerated rather than welcomed. That looks set to get far worse. The weekend’s travel ban was bad and there is likely more to come. And New Zealand is looking pretty good by contrast.

And so, here are a few helpful welcome tips to any new New Zealanders we might welcome from America. 
  • Tomato sauce has nothing to do with ketchup. It looks like ketchup, it smells like ketchup, but it ain’t ketchup. It’s best avoided.
  • Marmite sounds terrible, but learn to love it. It’s great.
  • Go to Spotify and listen to Flying Nun’s back catalogue. Avoid Dave Dobbyn. 
  • If you’re avoiding fishing in the sea because you can’t find the office that will give you a fishing licence, stop looking. You don’t need a licence to fish in the sea.
  • When a Kiwi says something is ‘quite good’, they usually mean ‘less than good’. Not more than good.
  • If a Kiwi asks you which sports team you support, don’t tell them that you root for the All Blacks. It means something else here. Just… don’t. 
  • Similarly, a Kiwi might ask you to go out tramping. It means hiking. Not the other thing. And if you go, leave the gate the way you found it out in the paddock. 
  • You had to carry your passport with you all the time in the States to prove you were legal. You don’t have to do that here.
  • Our police are generally unarmed and generally friendly. If you get pulled over, you don’t need to worry about being shot. It’s really nice.
  • The public insurance system means you can generally just go and do awesome things and not have to worry about signing waiver forms. Be careful out there and have fun.
But most of all, welcome home. 
On The Record
All Things Considered
  • Graph(s) of the week: How our spending habits change in January.
  • America: A society can't close itself off and remain free
  • Brexit update: Bill to trigger Article 50 is passed
  • Can you pick them: The worlds most powerful brands
  • Useful information for a quiz: How IKEA name their furniture.
  • Person vs. Falcon: Who would you rather have next to you on the plane?
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