Our changing population mix is bothering the tangata whenua – will the Asians want special funding too?

Alf is bound to sit up and take notice, when warnings are sounded about the future of special arrangements for our indigenous people.

He is apt to think there should be no special arrangements for anyone – not based on race, anyway – but the horse bolted on that one years ago.

Vast sums of money are dished out from the public purse each year for Maori purposes and increasingly special seats are provided around council tables and in other public bodies for Maori appointees.

Never mind. It’s all in the name of the Treaty partnership, and we shouldn’t question these arrangements – not too shrilly, anyway – lest the indigenous portion of our citizenship get the idea we disapprove of giving them a helping hand.

We get a whiff of the problem that is looming (if it hasn’t already arrived”) from an Asia NZ Foundation survey.

It shows Maori views on Asian immigration have deteriorated in the past year. While most New Zealanders increasingly saw the benefit of Asian immigrants, 44 per cent of Maori believed New Zealanders were more negative towards people from Asia compared with a year ago.

This is well above the 27 per cent of all New Zealanders who are less positive towards Asians than last year.

A majority of Maori also reckon New Zealand is allowing too much investment from Asia.

These survey findings and some of the issues they raise are aired in a report at Stuff today:

Maori dislike Asian immigrants more than any other group of New Zealanders, a new poll shows.

Asians are blamed for taking jobs from Maori, driving Maori to Australia, lacking understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi and competing for cultural funding.

A Professor Paul Spoonley is quoted as saying surveys show Maori have an increasingly negative perception of Asians.

It is caused by “competition in the labour market . . . and competition for cultural resources,” Spoonley said.

Dunno what to do about the jobs thing. This suggests employers would rather bypass a Maori worker and give a job to a foreigner whose grasp of English might not be too hot. Obviously this is perverse behaviour.

The simple solution to the problem of competition for cultural funding would be to have none.

Alf suspects nobody is going to run with that one in a hurry.

But let’s go on to a nicely expressed reiteration of the claim to a privileged position in our society.

Maori have a unique position in New Zealand and advancing their cultural and social needs must be put ahead of the needs of immigrants, said Maori Party leader, Te Ururoa Flavell.

“[Are Maori] more important than anyone else? Possibly. I think that the most important thing is that the people of the country recognise our unique part in the fabric of this nation,” said Flavell.

He is concerned immigrants are taking much needed jobs from Maori, contributing to disproportionate emigration to Australia. As the indigenous people of New Zealand, the government should put the needs of Maori ahead of new migrants he said.

Stuff gives us Census 2013 figures that show 598,605 people of Maori ethnicity are living in New Zealand, the second largest ethnic group in the country (after “pakeha, whoever they might be”) with 14.9 per cent of the population.

The Asian population is now our third largest at 471,711, according to the census. It has grown from 6.6 per cent in 2011 to 11.8 per cent in 2013.

And here comes the threat to our indigenous persons: Spoonley predicts that within the next two decades the Asian population will be larger than the Maori population.

“The fastest growing group in New Zealand are the Asian community. Already in Auckland they almost outnumber Maori and Pasifika,” he said.

Asian voter turnout in our elections is low, especially in the first generation, Spoonley says.

But there could be a tipping point in demographics, where Asians will seek specific political representation in parliament.

Specific political representation?

Where could they have got that idea from?

Anyway, this obviously could lead to a very different power dynamic 50 years from now, when the ethnic groups outnumber pakeha.

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