Category Archives: New Zealand

Is An Accent An Excuse For No Job?

Linda Tang made the long journey from China to New Zealand in hope it would offer her an opportunity to establish a life in a democratic nation which had a high standard of living. Ms. Tang holds a B.A. in English and is a former English lecturer at a university in China. She did not expect any problems in the nursing program and passed her courses. However, Ms. Tang was failed in her final year because it was claimed her accent would prevent patients from understanding her and might result in a fatal outcome. According to Ms. Tang, “to say my English is not good enough is just an excuse. I feel that what they have done is discriminatory, especially to the Chinese because we are penalized not for our lack of knowledge or ability, but simply because of how we talk.”

Ms. Tang scored 6.5 on the international English language Testing System to qualify which was the level required to enter the nursing program. She argues that while not being able to speak English might cause some problems, native born New Zelanders do not speak foreign languages which would damage their ability to communicate with foreign speaking patients.

Many years ago I applied for a teaching position in my native New York City and was told they would not pass anyone who spoke with a New York City accent so I faked it. Actually, this issue is complex. If a nurse misunderstands what the doctor says or is unable to communicate with a patient the outcome could be disastrous. On the other hand, are there sufficient numbers of Chinese speaking people in a hospital with whom she could communicate as she continues working on her English proficiency?

Is It Racist To Eat Eskimo Pie?

Canadian tourist Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons has become the most unpopular people in the nation of New Zealand because she made clear the word, “Eskimo” was not appropriate to use, and, in particular, it should not be used in selling an “Eskimo Lolly” which is among the best selling candies in New Zealand. She was being interviewed at a tourist location and expressed the view using the word “Eskimo” in any respect was an insult to an Inuit woman. Ms. Parsons said no one in Canada used the expression “Eskimo” anymore because it was viewed as a racist term. The Eskimo Lolly is a multi-colored marshmallow candy in the shape of a person wearing a thick hooded jacket in front of an igloo.

Thousands of New Zelanders expressed their anger at the tourist from Canada for insulting their candy. I have spent my life eating Eskimo pie ice creams and must now reconsider by doing so if I am part of a racist denial of the personhood of the Inuits. Of course, back in Canada, there is a football team named the “Edmonton Eskimos” which apparently is OK.

Language A Barrier To Immigrant Integration

Recent research in New Zealand reveals one of the main issue hindering the ability of immigrant families to become integrated within society is difficulty learning the native language. A common complaint cited by immigrants is arriving in New Zealand with high hope for a better economic and social life only to encounter prejudice and difficulty in getting ahead in their work environment. A young Muslim woman spoke of being alienated because people could not accept the veil she wore while a young Muslim male spoke of being treated by many as though he was a terrorist. Another factor that emerged from the research was conflict within immigrant families as their children learned language and culture of the new country while their parents clung to the older world.

The research is exactly what every generation of immigrants to America encountered. Immigrants to any land find they initially are strangers in a strange land until learning language or getting to understand the new culture allows adjustments in their original culture. If one makes the long journey to a new land, there must be new attitudes and the central issue is maintaining key aspects of the culture brought to the new land as one learns new components of culture.

Is Racial Segregation Really Segregation?

New Zealand has a Maroi rugby team which reflects a cultural group and the desire to display their talents to the world, but the fact this team is only composed of Maroi raises issues for its proposed trip to South Africa. The South African Ruby Union has a rule that forbids South African rugby players to play against teams that have been “selected along racial lines” that might prevent the Maroi team from playing in that nation. The Maroi team in addition to playing rugby also performs cultural aspects of their culture in order to familiarize others about the nature of the Maroi people. Billy Bush, captain of the Maroi team notes, “I understand South Africa’s position because they have 500 years of (white rule). And it’s not long ago when Maroi couldn’t go to South Africa.” The only time they did get to play in South Africa was in 1970 when they appeared as “honorary whites.”

The New Zealand Maroi team is appealing to South Africa to waive this rule and allow their team to play against South Africa. Ah, the trials and confusion when we humans engage in the game of racism.

Immigration Down Under Is Under

New Zealand which has a fairly prosperous society is experiencing a shifting pattern of immigration and migration. Migration out of New Zealand towards Australia reached 47,800 this year compared to 34,000 last year and immigration is not matching the outward flow of people. Political leaders are trying to figure out what is going on and initially have concluded higher wages in Australia are encouraging New Zealanders to head west. In an effort to halt the flow, the new Nationalist Party is urging special bonus payments to any doctor or nurse willing to work in areas that are impoverished which would help medical students to pay off loans. They are going to offer housing breaks and to raise wages.

The New Zealand experience is simply one of many facing nations of the world as a new outburst of movement is occurring. People are seeking out new work environments in their quest for a better standard of living. No nation is immune for this process, and within ten years the United States will experience a similar occurrence.

Immigrants–Stay Out, Say New Zealand Bigots

Peter Brown, deputy leader of New Zealand First, bluntly told immigrants they were not welcome in New Zealand unless they were prepared to give up any cultural traditions or values that conflict with those of New Zealand. He particularly expressed his anger at immigrants who come from nations in which women were treated as subservient to men or had a “class system.” Brown spoke at a meeting which contained many immigrants and emphasized to them New Zealand was an “egalitarian society” and only wanted people who share those values.

The Brown speech came at a meeting in which eight political parties expressed their views to a crowd containing many immigrants. Brown’s comment undoubtedly represents the feeling of many people in New Zealand who fear strangers, particularly those from Asian societies. Of course, the ironic aspect of Brown’s comments regarding coming from a “class society” given that most original British immigrants came from a class society. Has Mr. Brown ever read the history of British migration to New Zealand and Austrialia?

About Time-Sex Offenders Must Prove Got Assent!

Sex abuse groups are welcoming proposed changes in New Zealand law which for the first time will place the burden of proof on the shoulders of accused sex offenders who must now prove how they went about obtaining consent from the victim. There will be changes in the rape shield law which limited the accused’s ability to cross-examine a complainant concerning past sexual relations between the two individuals. A 2001 study found 19% of New Zealand women and 5% of men had experienced sexual violence at some stage and figures were much higher for Maroi women. The survey found most who went through a trial process believed they were more subject to scrutiny than the sexual offender.

New Zealand is also investigating whether sexual offenders are better handled by means of investigative process rather than an adversarial system. Under the investigative process a judge would handle gathering evidence, questioning witnesses and lawyers would have a different role.

New Zealand Concerned Over Gang Violence

New Zealand authorities are concerned over outbreaks of gang violence in many parts of the nation. The latest incident was the arrest of five members of the Mongrel gang after they had a stand off in the streets with members of other gangs. As is so usual in these cases, the issue was over which gang will control the local drug trade. Some New Zealand mayors are comparing gang violence in their cities as akin to the situation in Zimbabwe, which is undoubtedly a rather extreme exaggeration. Greg O’Connor, president of the Police Association, says there is need for a coordination national program to smash the gangs, but some mayors want to create local police chiefs who would focus on crime in their cities.

Mr. O’Connor says it is not enough to get rid of street thugs, but there must be an effort to “knock off the top of the pyramid.” The New Zealand concerns are those shared by many countries in which drugs are illegal. Perhaps, it is time to reconsider the entire issue of making drugs illegal and explore alternatives of legal drugs that are under the control of the national government. As long as drugs are illegal, there will be illegal gangs vying for power over the monies connected with selling illegal drugs.

New Zealand Gets Tough On Domestic Violence

The New Zealand government has decided on a get tough policy with men who are guilty of domestic violence. Police are now authorized to hand out on-the-spot protection orders when they are called to a domestic violence incident. Alleged offenders could be removed from their homes for up to 72 hours under the changes announced by Justice Minister Annette King. She commented, “the more we talk about domestic violence, and the more we crete an environment in which victims of domestic violence feel able to report what is happening to them, the more chance we have of coming to grips with this scourge on our society.”

Under new guidelines announced by Ms. King:

* Police can issue on-the-spot short term protection orders.
* There will be greater consequences for violating protection orders.
* Criminal courts will be more proactive in defending rights of victims.
* Increased concern for the impact of psychological abuse.

Are Schools A Safe Haven For Children?

Tiana Turner, a New Zealander educator, who works with children aged 8 to 16 told local politicians that schools were failing children from families in which “inter-generational abuse” was common. She claims “schools used to be a safe haven. What I have noticed is that school is no longer a safe haven. They(children) go from their homes that are extremely challenging to a school environment that is even worse.” She believes that traditional schoolyard bullying has escalated which increases the difficulty in safeguarding children in schools. She blames the “guielines for schools and teachers have no ability to put in very clea boudnaries to have a safe environment.”

Ms. Turner is most probably correct in that modern guidelines make it more difficult to expel children and as she points out, to do so would only place “young children on the streets getting no education, with not confidence and no self-esteem.” Defenders of school policies insist there are guidelines and things are better than before. Is this an example in which both sides are making valid points?

Ms. Turner and others forget in the “old days” a much higher percent of toubled and difficult children either left school on their own or were permanently expelled. Mass education means all children, difficult or not, are entitled to an education. In post industrial societies, there are fewer job opportunities leading to careers for adolescent youth. The end result is society must confront issues dealing with these children for whom violence is a way of dealing with life itself. Perhaps, the solution also lies in creating an education that has meaning for children.