Friday 6 February 2015

Fast Forward: What Will New Zealand Look Like In 2040?

Conflicting Expectations: On the day the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, Maori enjoyed complete cultural, economic and military hegemony in "Niu Tirani" [New Zealand]. In such circumstances their cession of sovereignty to Great Britain was likely regarded as being more strategic than immediate. Within 25 years, however, the Maori situation had changed dramatically. With the experience of the Maori in mind, we should ask ourselves: "What will New Zealand look like 25 years from today?"
IT WAS 175 YEARS AGO, today, that Queen Victoria’s representative, Captain William Hobson, secured these islands for the British Empire.
According to the Waitangi Tribunal, however, that is not what the chieftains of the North believed was happening. The Tribunal’s historians flatly reject the idea that, in signing Captain Hobson’s treaty, the chiefs had voluntarily ceded all political authority to these pale-skinned men in their uncomfortable woollen coats, starched collars and feathered hats.
Personally, I’m not so sure this was the case. Contemporary records of the debates at Waitangi on 5-6 February 1840 make it clear that everybody present knew exactly what was going on.
And one of the more important things that Maori knew in February 1840 was that when it came to the disposition of cultural, economic and military power in Niu Tirani (as they called New Zealand) Maori were very much in charge.
Sure, the British were powerful. Indeed, there were Maori leaders present at Waitangi that day who had seen for themselves just how powerful the British were. But, those same Maori were equally aware of how very far away Britain was, and of how much effort it required to successfully navigate the 12,000 miles that separated the River Thames from the Bay of Islands. It would be a very long time, they calculated, before the treaty they’d just signed amounted to anything more than words on paper.
They were wrong about that.
Just a quarter-of-a-century later, in 1865, there were as many British soldiers serving in New Zealand as there were miles separating them from their homeland. And they weren’t just here for show. General Cameron’s 12,000 imperial troops were slowly but surely demonstrating to the Maori King, Tawhiao, and his allies, that, when it came to the disposition of cultural, economic and military power, the tangata whenua were no longer in charge.
The pale-skinned men in their uncomfortable woollen coats, starched collars and outlandish head-gear were rapidly taking the Maori’s place – and their land. Since 1840, tens-of-thousands of Pakeha had made the journey to Niu Tirani – and they had come to stay.
Fast-forwarding 150 years to 2015, let’s put ourselves in the same position as those Maori leaders at Waitangi on the day the Treaty was signed. Looking forward a quarter-of-a-century, to the bi-centenary of the Treaty’s signing in 2040, how much will have changed, and how much will have stayed the same?
Something tells me that the changes of the next 25 years will be as great – if not greater – than those which overwhelmed Niu Tirani between 1840 and 1865.
There will, of course, be plenty of New Zealanders, Maori and Pakeha, who disagree: foreseeing no serious alteration to the status-quo. Like the Maori leaders of 1840, they are confident that the balance of cultural, economic and military forces will endure. Some on the Maori side may even predict a strengthening of the indigenous people’s position.
I do not share their confidence.
The New Zealand I foresee taking shape in 25 years’ time will be profoundly different. Its ethnic composition and cultural preoccupations will reflect the burgeoning regional dominance of the People’s Republic of China. Long before the bi-centenary of the Treaty, the number of New Zealanders with familial connections to China will have easily surpassed the numbers identifying as tangata whenua. Mandarin will be the second language of New Zealand – not Maori.
Rising sea levels, due to global warming, will also have driven hundreds of thousands of Pasifika to New Zealand’s shores. By 2040, their numbers, too, will exceed those of Maori.
In 25 years, Pakeha New Zealanders will still constitute a majority of the population – but only just. And these will be much changed from the Pakeha of 2015.
The world-wide economic crisis of the 2020s, during which New Zealand abandoned its historical relationships with Britain and the USA, and the threw in its lot, irrevocably, with the People’s Republic, will have driven New Zealand’s political elites steadily towards the tightly-managed form of democracy currently observable in Hong Kong.
The generous bi-culturalism of the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries, with its Treaty Settlements and co-management of key resources, will have fallen among the first casualties of New Zealand’s strategic turn from West to East.
Indeed, so much may have changed by 2040 that the Treaty of Waitangi’s bicentenary passes unnoticed and unmissed.
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 6 February 2015.


Wayne Mapp said...

I gave a speech on a similar theme two years ago at a Waitangi event, tough not nearly as pessimistic.

Four points. First, many of those who come to New Zealand from China have left China because they want more freedom. They will not want a Hong Kong style govt, nor will Maori and Pakeha.

Second, many Chinese entrepreneurs will want a relationship with Maori, Shanghai Pengxin being an example.

Third, most Pacific Island nations are not low-lying atolls, so no massive wave of migration.

Fourth, China will not displace the US to the point of irrelevancy. With 500 million people by 2040, the US will be a powerful force in the Asia Pacific, though not as dominant as present. And NZ will not exchange the US security relationship for that of China (though it will be more nuanced).

Anonymous said...

Typo line 2.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

What Maori should have done of course was to greet the immigrants with a shitload of bureaucracy and form filling. Part of which of course would have been to insist on fluency in Maori language and adaptation to Maori customs within 2 years of migration. :-)

Chris Trotter said...

Thanks, Anonymous@14:01, duly corrected.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Wayne Mapp

Your first point reveals a level of naiveté unexpected in a former Cabinet Minister.

Your second mistakes future Chinese decisions, taken from a position of strength, for
current Chinese decisions, based on political expediency.

Your third assumes that only rising sea-levels will have an impact on Pacific island nations. You are not factoring-in the steady rise in adverse weather events on a scale sufficient to uproot tens-of-thousands.

Your fourth and final point takes no account of historical contingency. At the time we were celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Treaty, in 1990, the Soviet Union was a global superpower. Where is it now?

Got any more bright ideas?

pat said...

When the future is written of in any predictive style the reality when it arrives appears to be a strange mix predicted and yet totally different....suspect it will be so again. The demographics mentioned are likely to be of the former outcome.
One thing is for sure, NZ in 2040 will be a very different place for a myriad of reasons..the real question is, will it be better or worse?

Mike Butler said...

Tribal corporations appear to have the current govt in the palm of their hands but this will pass. As a landlord I see low-rent Maori tenants who are continually namby pambied by the govt being sidelined in employment and housing because they either cannot or will not lift their games to meet expected standards. Migrants start with whatever work that is available, often competing with low-paid Maori, and in a few years they have bought homes, started businesses and put their children through university to become the future middle class. I look forward to the day when treatyism dies a natural death.

Wayne Mapp said...


I know you must find it baffling that Chinese coming to New Zealand do want to replicate hong Kong government , but that has been my experience with many Chinese in Auckland.

I appreciate your article is intended to provoke, but how likely is it that the US will suffer a Soviet Union style collapse in the next twenty-five years. Are there enough underlying conditions that could bring it about? More likely a relative decline like the UK and France, except that the US has much more inherent power (a great landmass, large natural resources, and a large and growing population) than either of these two, so the decline will not be as marked.

China could have enough problems of its own trying to maintain a one party state.

Jigsaw said...

Interesting piece but I at once thought of all of the visions of the future I have read in later years that merely projected the present into the future without much thought. I think that you have escaped that to some degree.
I look forward to a time when tribalism is well and truly dead in this country.
I was a little intrigued that you used the term pakeha and said that they would be majority but only just. Without a definition it means next to nothing. Under the present belief system anyone not Maori is pakeha so all Asians are pakeha and so are those from the pacific islands which makes your prediction rather odd to say the least.
GS apparently means Maori customs such as eating your neighbours and slavery as well as the lack of the written language.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie says...@ Pat. Higher population, ruined ecological and social infrastructure...From our perspective, a larger proportion of our population will have a culture first of poverty, though they will call themselves Maori and pakeha and Islander. To judge from the US and Europe, they will spend a lot of time fighting between themselves.

I'm no prophet, and will be delighted to be proved wrong.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Maori tenants who are continually namby pambied by the govt "

Wow – but rich coming from a landlord.

peteswriteplace said...

Would have to agree. But I won't be around here. Once the old Queen Elizabeth 2 dies there will be press ure for a republic and new constitution to control those who speak Mandarin. Our polynesian friends regard living in NZ a privilege, not some right. We are all immigrants and must realise there will be changes, including those of Maori descent.

Anonymous said...

Mike Butler, typical comment from a smug, know it all, self seeking landlord. You think you are God's gift, just because you own a house or two. Guess what, you take none of it with you. What a prince. No empathy, as usual.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Oh jigsaw, so predictable. Slavery...... of course. Finally abolished in the British Empire in 1834, and by the East India Company in 1843. And in the US – well you probably know the effort needed to do that in the 1860s. Other European countries abolished it in their colonies as late as 1896. I presume you have some idea of when Europeans started arriving in New Zealand? :-)
As to the cannibalism, as I have mentioned before, human body parts work commonly used in medicines all well into the 19th century by Europeans. So they were cannibals too. I suppose we should be grateful at least that you didn't mention the grass skirts.
Or the continuous fighting – particularly considering England fought about a war every 18 months throughout the 19th century, and that there is only one country in the world that England hasn't invaded at some stage in its history. (Pity, as I would have delighted in making that point.)
This of course fits in with the points I've been making about complete disregard for intellectualism and science in New Zealand. Not just on the right of course but you are making my point. You and Brendan anyway.
It doesn't matter what evidence there is for anything, you know better.
Global warming, overwhelming evidence and overwhelming support by scientists but...
Scientists finds out that money is the crucial factor in bringing up children rather than married parents but you know better.
The governor of the Bank of England mentions that austerity doesn't work, because countries are not families or businesses, but you know better because you have a family and you've been in business.
Absolutely amazing.

Anyway, I'm glad that you're making these points, because I've been banned from by the oily wail for demolishing them and I was sort of missing it.

jh said...

yesterday on the bus stop near the steamer wharf in Queenstown there were 6 buses parked while the clients ate at Chinese restaurants (and one wanting to get on). All had Chinese drivers.
If you want to protect your way of life/culture, you protect your borders.

jh said...

Wayne Mapp says
"One thing is absolutely clear, Auckland will grow to 2.5 million in 30 years."
Aunty Property Council says so.

pat said...

@ Stephanie ..whatever the details the trend is dystopian.

jh said...

Mike Butler
I see low-rent Maori tenants who are continually namby pambied by the govt being sidelined in employment and housing because they either cannot or will not lift their games to meet expected standards.
Go bus has brought in 28? Filipino drivers. One driver is on the same rate he was in 1990 (so I was told).
What's more the government allows employers (such as hoteliers) to recruit in China because Kiwis 'don't want to do the work (night manager -toilet cleaner).
And the government is deliberately increasing Aucklands population "to achieve agglomeration effects" while it's housing measures will do little to reduce house prices Auckland house prices says Tony Alexander -

jh said...

I look forward to a time when tribalism is well and truly dead in this country.
I look forward to a time when it is recognised that all people are tribal [refer E.O Wilson] and the racism isn't a social construct. Then we will be on a firmer basis for understanding behaviour.

jh said...

Comments on Kiwiblog
duggledog (1,677 comments) says:
January 24th, 2015 at 8:47 am
Was talking to a Maori colleague last week, she’s relatively high up in the aristocracy in her particular tribe and knows a fair bit about what goes on in there. She said the average bro has a really, really bad feeling about all the Chinese that are popping up everywhere. She wouldn’t say exactly why the Chinese specifically, which started me wondering.
fernglas (217 comments) says:
January 24th, 2015 at 9:01 am
Tell them to harden up; the Chinese are here to stay, just like us Pakeha
Vote: 16  1
I think in the context of that discussion they meant the rates of immigration are here to stay.

2nd Comment
"Cracks me up how people get so riled up about immigrants. Especially them chinese.

Dime loves em – i like their food, i like their reasonably priced blow jobs, i like that they only seem to commit crimes against each other, i like that they have made me a fortune in property, i like that they built me a kick ass house".

Victor said...


I think the scenario you're painting is highly plausible.

However, as you yourself subsequently suggest, historical contingency can make nonsense of all predictions.

Factors which might possibly slow down our integration into China's sphere of influence include the numerical rise of our ethnic Indian community and the rather substantial recent revival of immigration from the UK.

Both groups stem from countries,which, whatever their faults, have reasonably well entrenched democratic traditions and , in any event, provide alternative international perspectives and orientations.

China's own growth might also slow down considerably over the next few years, making it a less attractive magnet.

True, as the US market recovers, there might again be rich pickings for Chinese exporters across the Pacific. Even so, Beijing's attempts to reposition its economy away from the treadmill of cheap exports have not been particularly successful and there's a limit to the number of ghost cities you can plant in the middle of nowhere.

Meanwhile, I note that ISIS has just given Shinzo Abe yet another plausible argument for abandoning
Japan's "Peace Constitution", which suggests a whole raft of additional(and not wholly pleasant) contingencies.

But there's one thing of which I'm certain: we're long past the point where a neutral, independent stance is the natural default alternative to a subordinate role in a US-led alliance. It's fancy footwork from now on!

A great source of worry is that our foreign affairs establishment doesn't seem to have the requisite (very high) level of skills required for navigating between the behemoths in Beijing and Washington. And I sincerely doubt whether the McCully incumbency has helped.

Wayne Mapp

I would agree that very few Chinese New Zealanders have any particular affection for Beijing's post-Leninist dictatorial system of government.

The "guided democracy" model available in Hong Kong or Singapore might, however, be another matter.

A fear that some old-fashioned, un-guidable democrats such as myself harbour is that this blended "Neo-Confucionism" might also prove alluring to New Zealanders who are not of Chinese extraction.

In fact, given China's rise to prominence and the apparent success of its model, I suspect you don't actually need an ethnic Chinese population for this model to become attractive.

What you do require, however, is constant diminishing, discrediting and disrespecting of the public space, as has, alas, occurred in New Zealand and elsewhere over the last thirty years.

If we're just consumers and not citizens, it seems logical to leave the big decisions to Mandarins.

Barry said...

I hope you are right about the so-called biculturalism disappearing; but I hope you are wrong about any more Pacific Islanders in NZ.

Jigsaw said...

Of course GS you are not predictable - not much! The mote is always in the other's eye! You cherry pick history in the most incredible way. You keep this riff going that Maori should have been at some imagined border demanding that the immigrants were there with cash and passports and promising to speak a language that no one else spoke and embrace some pretty dreadful customs when of course Maori were keen to grasp new technologys (like the wheel) and welcomed the newcomers who in a treaty eventually bought peace. If you could be bothered to actually read something like the 'Musket Wars' you might actually learn something. Of course other peoples practised
both slavery and cannibalism but hardly as widely as Maori did in
the 1830's -and more importantly this is being denied today -right now! Ranginui Walker has stated publicly-I heard him-that Maori NEVER practised cannibalism-NOT EVER. And if you could be bothered to research the wreck of the Harriet in the 1830's you would find the Taranaki tribe say that the written account is a lie and it didn't happen. We are discussing the Treaty here and not red herrings.
Tribalism is the most dreadful form of government and thank goodness most of us prefer democracy with all its faults.
By the way science is not decided by a vote amongst scientists.
You really should get out more!

manfred said...

Oh give us a break with the hyperbole. Kiwis are not going to accept Asiatic technocracy or managed democracy ffs.

New Zealanders will reject mass immigration before that ever happens and jolly good show too.

The New Zealand Left aren't as stupid and sentimental to allow for radically restructuring New Zealand's ethnic composition without giving new immigrants a chance to integrate into our society.

Despite what so many on the left have been saying, New Zealanders like their democracy. 70 odd percent participation (or thereabouts) on a bad day ain't half bad.

In the US it's been common to dip under 50 percent. And they aren't talking about getting rid of democracy (unless it's in some libertarian nazi's paranoid imaginings and involves Barack Obama).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jigsaw. You seem incapable of recognising humour.
Still, you think that Maori would not have received any new technology if they had restricted European immigration? Technology infiltrates societies whether we like it or not.
I have actually read the musket wars, I'm not sure what your point is in mentioning it however. Unless you're trying to say that this was more warlike than Europeans were at the same time? That's a long bow by any stretch of the imagination. You seem to be saying that Maori were wrong for engaging in warlike activities whereas Europeans were not – or didn't. Perhaps they only engaged in 'just wars'? :-)
Wrong. But if you can't see that there's no point in discussing it with you any further.
You must be kidding about the slavery thing right? You know nothing about Maori slavery obviously. Try looking at in New Zealand history website. Not condoning it, but it was different to the industrial slavery practised in the United States or the Caribbean, where slaves were bred for various characteristics. So as widely? I don't think so. There were almost 4 million slaves in the US – counted in the census of 1850. That's more than 10% of the population. You couldn't get much wider than that.
I also don't see how someone denying Maori practice cannibalism is relevant here. It's pretty well established that they did and I don't care if someone denies it. All our ancestors ate each other at one time or another, whether we like it or not. And I can't see how you can condemn Maori for doing this, particularly as they gave it up.
If you want savagery, try looking at the British criminal justice system which condemned 7-year-olds to various cruel punishments including even though rarely, death. Even though they were not considered able to form a criminal intent. Are you proud of the fact that your ancestors used to gather around to watch people slowly choking to death by being hanged? Have a look at the case of William Corder, who was hanged for murder, and a book about the case covered in his own tanned skin. Really civilised.
And the fact remains that warlike or not (just as warlike as the British perhaps) the average Maori was much healthier than the average European in 1840. I would suggest that one of the measures of a successful society is the health of its people.
You seem to be making the point that Pakeha society was somehow more morally advanced than Maori society. Wrong. Technologically perhaps, morally not so much.
Lastly. Of COURSE science is decided by consensus among scientists. How else would be decided? Think about it for a minute.

Chris Trotter said...

That's a very optimistic view, Manfred.

Considering the steady erosion of civil liberties in New Zealand since the mid-1970s, and the public indifference to that erosion, I would foresee very few difficulties being placed in the way of the political class transitioning this country to a Hong Kong-style "managed democracy".

After all, that same political class has, over the past 30 years, and without the slightest political mandate, substantially altered the demographic structure of New Zealand society.

The only politician to consistently object to this process has been Winston Peters, who is pilloried as a "racist" for his pains.

Victor said...


I agree with you to some extent.

The problem is not that Kiwis aren't committed to democracy or that immigrants (of whom I'm one)are not appreciate of New Zealand's democratic traditions.

Nor is the problem primarily that a large wedge of recent immigrants are ethnic Chinese and might have a preference for Chinese ways of doing things (be they Beijing or Hong Kong style).

We also have a large ethnic Indian population but (quite rightly) no-one's expecting them to impose a caste system on us.

The problem is that we find ourselves in the sphere of influence of a very powerful and increasingly nationalistic country that has no particular respect for democracy and expects a degree of deference from its tributary states (of which we may, in some senses, be considered one).

We have yet to discover how far that deference involves the subordination of our democratic processes. However, the way Russel Norman got treated on Xi Jinping's penultimate visit here, certainly provided me with food for thought.

Moreover, powerful nations inevitably affect the lives, expectations, cultures and values of the minnows within their spheres of influence. Why should China's rise to prominence be any different?

Meanwhile, a new cold war is brewing between China and the nation that, till recently, firmly occupied the top slot. We're bang in the middle and committed to both sides, economically to China and politically to the United States.

To my mind, this is one of the single most important facts about New Zealand in the twenty-first century and would be so with or without the presence of large numbers of ethnic Chinese immigrants, many of whom, as Wayne Mapp has pointed out, might actually prefer our way of doing things.

Discussion on this broader issue is strangely and, to my mind, dangerously muted.

The right seems blinded by dollar signs and the left by, at best, a taste for the moral high ground of total non-alignment and, at worse, by knee-jerk anti-Americanism (and I write as a seasoned critic of US policy from Vietnam to Iraq).

Meanwhile, every time someone edges gingerly towards mentioning this issue, as Chris seems to have done in his post, discussion seems to shift immediately to immigration, demographics etc.

These may well be important topics. But they are not the essence of the dilemmas we face in the international arena.

It's time we gave up sleepwalking and acknowledged our situation. Only then will we have a ghost of a chance of deciding on the best of an admittedly limited number of options.


"After all, that same political class has, over the past 30 years, and without the slightest political mandate, substantially altered the demographic structure of New Zealand society."

I think us immigrants also had something to do with this outcome.

If we hadn't chosen to come here, the "political class" would have been left with an open door that no-one was entering.

And if we hadn't broadly liked what we found, we wouldn't have stayed.

Moreover, I don't need the establishment to tell me that NZ First is wont to engage in dog-whistle politics. I can work it out for myself.

It's a pity because I rather like some of its economic policies and appreciate my gold card.

manfred said...

I suppose I could rephrase my position by saying I am more concerned at the prospect of a lack of integration.

I support multiculturalism but I don't think we can continue mass immigration permanently at our current levels.

I am very pleased with immigration thus far - I just think that if it is maintained at 50,000 a year for much longer, problems could arise. Problems such as a disconnect between communities in the national dialogue.

As certain Catholic spokespeople are fond of telling us, democracy only works when there are shared values held by all or most citizens.

From my experience in the Muslim community, I can tell you that New Zealand's Muslims are actually pretty good participants in our nations political life. They tend to vote Labour or Green and are always up for a good chat about politics.

I'm optimistic because we still have high levels of political participation. It wasn't so long ago, during the Clark years, when so many people seemed to be very politicised. They knew where they stood.

New Zealanders just aren't inclined to take to the streets, that's all.

I just think New Zealand needs a more meaningful alternative in order to be more engaged with politics. Key, with his leviathan of political manoeuverings, is trying his utmost to depoliticise the country by presenting 'sensible' government as just a set of good managers who don't get excited about much at all.

But then again, Key is genuinely ideological as is the whole National Party project. True technocratic managerialism involves true pragmatism, not just political pragmatism for the sake of manipulating the public into thinking he's not ideological.

I'm circling around the topic a bit here but these issues are interconnected.

I just think a managerial project would experience great difficulty in trying to insinuate itself in our political class. Representative democracy is just too deeply embedded into our DNA.

The National Party mafia already have it sewn up in this country without the aid of such foreign imports.

Another elite displacing the formerly mentioned old boys club, that's what it would have to take.

And those sorts of changes only happen with war, coups and revolutions. So far, anyway.

Guerilla Surgeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kat said...

As Clint Eastwood said "you don't knock America out with one punch" it could be a zillion cuts....maybe 3040?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Victor. China hasn't SO FAR displayed much of a predilection for interfering in the internal affairs of other countries – with the possible exception of places it regards as part of China. Unlike the US.Anyway, we have to live with them one way or another, because as with Israel it's the situation on the ground. They certainly haven't invaded as many countries in the past as the US and Britain :-). I might start to worry if the Chinese leadership starts spreading rumours that New Zealand was in fact discovered by the Chinese in 400 BC or some such. :-)
But has the son of migrants myself I still get a little tetchy about the desire to fill up the country, because it means a bigger GDP and more business. As I've said before, we are turning ourselves into something that people can see at home. Possibly a bad decision considering on how much we depend on tourism.

Daniel Copeland said...

You know, don't you, Chris, that in tikanga Māori the phrase "tangata whenua" refers to the host group when one tribal group enjoys another's hospitality, the guests being "manuhiri"? And you know, don't you, that should a second group of manuhiri come along, the first group are considered part of the tangata whenua as far as their relations with the new manuhiri are concerned? See the Treaty from that perspective and I think you'll find it answers your concerns.
I'm not sure it's true that there'll be more Chinese New Zealanders than Māori in 2040, though. It seems to me that's an extrapolation from a couple of trends which seem likely to change in that time. In particular, I expect to see a drop in the population growth of China (long before there is one in the population growth of Māori in New Zealand), and a radical change in China's attitude to human rights, which will likely result in fewer Chinese people feeling the need to emigrate, in that time.

Victor said...


I'm still in substantial but not total agreement with you.

My fear is less of our international status being determined by demographic change, as of our long-established grasping,incompetent and short-sighted elites sucking-up unduly to the new hegemon and, in the process, sacrificing our democratic standards and some of our scant-remaining sovereignty.

By now, of course, there are some Chinese members of these elites. But I'm mainly talking about "the boys in blazers", who tend still to be primarily New Zealand European.

My impression is that the boys have little instinctive regard for democratic values and might find the "guided democracy" syndrome quite attractive, and all the more so because of its hegemonic associations.

And do not doubt their ability to manipulate a largely apolitical public into seeing things their way (c.f. the last three general elections)!

I also agree with you that, compared to most other places, New Zealand has made an excellent job of coping with large-scale, immigration-related cultural change and that most immigrants have responded positively to what, for many, will have been a strange and challenging environment.

And I also agree with you that immigration levels are currently too high to make integration easy and are also placing a huge strain on housing, infrastructure, state services etc.

However, I also wonder how much of this is just an "Auckland problem". Or maybe it's just a symptom of THE Auckland problem of unplanned growth, mushrooming suburbs, inadequate housing/transport and too many favours to developers and the road lobby.


I'm certainly not positing anything like a Chinese military invasion. And I'd agree with you that the PRC has not tended to project military force much beyond its 1949 boundaries, although that might be changing on Xi Jinping's watch.

But Chinese political traditions don't exactly celebrate the notion of equality between large and small states. Countries within your sphere of influence are expected to behave themselves and accommodate themselves to your standards.

I can easily foresee a situation in which we're 'Finlandised', i.e. reduced to the kind of limited independent status that Finland enjoyed under the Pax Sovietica.

That might not be too bad. After all, Finland did quite well out of being Moscow's little democratic, high-tech pal. Trouble is, we don't have quite so much high opposed to a lot of farmland, bovine udders, water resources, radiata pines and (just maybe)offshore oil in quantities worth exploiting.

Nor are we as skilled as the Finns when it comes to all the diplomatic fancy footwork needed to prevent the further erosion of sovereignty.

Moreover, we'd be on a different side of the fence to Deputy Sheriff Australia, which may or may not be what New Zealanders want.

Meanwhile, I get a bit worried when people say that China (or any other large continental power) has tended not to invade other countries (unlike those perfidious islanders). How do you think China got to its present size in the first place?

As to immigration levels, I would agree that migration has been used as a means of furthering a largely egregious, neo-liberal economic project.

But I think that, without relatively high immigration, New Zealand would almost certainly have suffered a net loss of population of recent decades. How many thousands could we have afforded to lose before we became un-viable as a nation?

Moreover, I just can't buy the argument that New Zealand is an overcrowded country, although Auckland is certainly getting that way.

And now I await a tirade from "jh".

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Victor, can't help thinking you're doing a knee-jerk here. How do you "become unviable as a nation"? There are plenty of viable nations with smaller populations than us. And we produce food, which because of the way we organise ourselves these days is going to become a rare commodity - unless someone synthesises it.
China got so big because there is a few million years worth of decent soil blown down from the north :-). Which enabled the Han Chinese to use intensive agriculture fairly early on, and have lots of children. Admittedly there were wars, admittedly there are minorities which are treated abominably in some cases, but most of these wars were a long, long time ago. China has been united since the 3rd century BC if I remember my Chinese history. And instead of constantly expanding as the Mongols did, they built a wall to keep people out. :-) They asked for tribute from surrounding nations, but this was often merely symbolic. China was so large it was pretty much impossible to rule properly from a central point anyway. Easier now with instant communication I guess. But not so easy that they want to expand. On the other hand, the list of countries that America has invaded in defence of their hegemony is quite large. And they also expected their minions to toe the line – hence the Munro doctrine. And as I said Britain has invaded every country in the world except one. Can't for the life of me remember which one though :-).
I'm not saying the Chinese are anymore upright or moral than Westerners, but let's not make out the US and the UK to be some sort of knights in shining armour. I think our best bet is to try to play them off against each other to be honest.

jh said...

But I think that, without relatively high immigration, New Zealand would almost certainly have suffered a net loss of population of recent decades. How many thousands could we have afforded to lose before we became un-viable as a nation?
Michael Reddell (Reserve Bank) says Kiwis leaving acts as a safety valve on the economy; employers are forced to pay higher wages or be more efficient. Instead we have had a population ponzi - unless someone can show a tradeables that has increased commensurate with population growth?

pat said...

Victor said...

Yes, GS, of course the US and the UK have appalling records. But so have China, Russia et al.

However, it’s an internet-bourn myth that the Brits have invaded just about everywhere. There are actually 22 countries they haven’t invaded. I’ll list them if you insist. But I hope you won’t!

That’s still one in ten of existing countries and certainly not a record to glory in. But the point I was making is that apparently homogenous continental super-states, such as Russia or China, typically grow through absorbing and forcibly assimilating their neighbours. Settlement by the imperial tribe also normally forms part of the process (as is currently happening in Tibet and Sinkiang).

Nobody today cares about the Duchy of Novgorod or the considerably larger Khanate of Sibir. They’re just part of Russia. And nobody cares about the rather large number of states that the Han took over as they spread from their original hub on the Yellow River. Nor do many care about the Iroquois, the Navaho or the Nez Perce, whose polities were destroyed by America’s westwards expansion.

The West Saxon kings played the same game in England, taking over six other kingdoms. True, Northumbria remains psychologically unsubdued. But nobody ’s likely to tell you “I’m not really English, I’m Mercian”, unless they’ve consumed several pints of “boilermaker” or some other local speciality.

But, as soon as the English tried expanding beyond the tight confines of their island, they not only became invaders but stayed as such in the minds of the locals (including even the descendents of their own settlers). That’s how it normally works with maritime empires. With land empires, you have a better chance of aggression being subsequently lauded as “manifest destiny”, national integration or whatever.

As to demographics, New Zealand faces the combined impact of small population and distance. It doesn’t matter if Luxembourg is small. France, Belgium and Germany are all just across the border and anything you can’t supply in terms of goods, services, skills, etc. will be winging its way to you before you notice the lack.

In New Zealand, however, a day doesn’t pass without me noticing some area where more skills are needed. I’ve lived here thirty years and don’t regret it. But, plainly, when you only have four point something million people, your choice of talent is going to be restricted. It’s a tribute to Kiwis that we manage as well as we do.

But there are other significant issues connected with small populations, such as the lack of economies of scale which restrict the growth of services, including those such as effective public transport, which would enable us to make less use of the motor car and, thus, possibly even help protect the environment.

So, yes, I plead guilty to thinking that New Zealand was in danger of losing the critical mass needed to keep a country going. But, of course, there’s always a trade-off to be made between such factors and the advantages of being a relatively under-populated country.

And I’ve wandered so far off topic that this had better be my swan song on this thread.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I don't want to get into a long winded argument about how many countries Britain has or hasn't invaded, and I suspect some of the non-invaded country simply didn't exist, or were part of larger empires when Britain was doing its invading.

But I think that 4 million people is totally adequate to provide the skills we need for a viable society. If we don't have them, is because we are not training people in them enough. Economies of scale and tyranny of distance I sort of agree with, at least with regard to manufactured goods. It doesn't exist for information-based goods for instance.
And we can still feed 30 times our population, so until they start making Soylent Green we should be good, as long as the world's population is increasing :-). So I really don't think a huge population is necessary for viability.

Jigsaw said...

GS-I think you really should be interested in what someone like Ranginui Walker has to say about cannibalism-this is a man who sits on the Tribunal and I am sure sat on the 'sovereignty' case and if he can't get even simply historical facts correct then the attempt to get what they think is 'justice' now from those events then is in serious trouble.
No give up on the attempts at humour -you do sarcasm so much better.

Victor said...


We'll have to agree to differ.

But, given pay differentials with overseas job markets, we might not have four million without immigration.

And it tends to be the more highly skilled who leave.

Victor said...

One final thought

The concept of economies of scale also applies to services.

Unknown said...

This blog challenges the reader to see a different future by looking back at the past.

It looks back to 1840 when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed to see how Maori misjudged the power and rising dominance of the British over the next 25 years. It then looks forward 25 years from now to the Waitangi bi-centenary in 2040, by when it anticipates Chinese culture and its political model will be dominant.

It might be productive to build some historical, and potential, technological factors into this scenario-building.

The British had more advanced, powerful technologies to utilise against Maori including more substantial waka, gunpowder weaponry and steam-powered factory machines.

Analogously it may be now worth looking into how new information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be utilised, especially including from this remote, antipodean part of a multipolar, globally networked world.

There are ways ICTs can be utilised for the benefit of all concerned from local through to national and global levels. Some of these have been explored in blogs on **

Amongst other things, village-connections blogs look into ways a small, remote New Zealand could thrive as a neutral broker and hub by building up useful and valued diplomatic, data and other international services. These include communications brokering between large rivals like the United States and China.

The blogs also depict PhD-researched local-level, ICT-supported community narrative-creation and other local development projects. The blogs further describe some complementary civic infrastructures to support cities to connect and help others to connect internationally.

The purpose of these projects and infrastructures is to make the most of ICTs to support otherwise fragmented and potentially antagonistic cultures to learn how they can collaborate for their mutual benefit, from local through to global levels.

Such inter-cultural and trans-cultural collaborative models will be needed if the present interminable, and worsening, local and international cultural clashes and struggles for dominance are ever to be superseded.

Indeed, if they only get worse and worse, the result is likely to be a global conflagration such as “nuclear-free New Zealand” might see itself as having a special mission to help prevent.

Anyone wanting to explore further could start with some of the following blogs:

1. Community as local place where everyone has something to offer

2. Local-global connection-building for futures that work

3. A trailer of “The Silent Connectors” – a film-based methodology for the local co-
exploration of desirable futures (Created by Hazel Ashton for her PhD in 2008)

4. Neutral venue for safe secure data services?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Victor – when I was referring to economies of scale I was more looking at things that can be downloaded over the Internet. Information – computer programs rather than actual services. Economies of scale don't work in quite the same way there.
As far as pay differentials go the received wisdom is that we will never be able to compete on pay. I think most politicians admit this. However I'm not sure if it's correct. But – People come here for the lifestyle. And if we fill it up they won't be one. At least not one that people would prefer over their home country.

Anonymous said...

Most China emigrants are strongly loyal to China and will remain so for generations if not centuries to come.

I don't think New Zealand will become a "managed democracy" as the country doesn't have the kind of disciplined culture to sustain that. But democracy can only become more dysfunctional over time when cultural values and growing corruption conflict with established norms.

The failure of successive New Zealand governments to establish anti-corruption legal structures and institutions will have and is already having a predictable effect.

The upper North Island of 2040 will probably be more dangerous than New Zealand of today and more like Los Angelas with bars appearing on windows and secure compounds. People and businesses may flee northern regions and the country to avoid crime like what is already happening in Northland.
Already the police are overwhelmed and in disarary. Front line police admit the statistics are falsified and crime isn't dropping; there is strong internal and political pressure to "lower" crime which results in promotions for those who "lower" crime. The investigation of more and more areas like car theft and burgary are largely abandoned or treated unprofessionally like the "Roastbusters" complaints. Over time the police will likely become corrupt.

The housing crisis has caused serious hardship and destitution among low income families. What has gone unnoticed is how this is sewing deep alienation, jealousy and racial hatred amongst Maori youth in particular. This will reap a bitter harvest of higher crime for decades to come.

The New Zealand accent will be more a thing of the past than not by 2040. In time the wealthier classes will have an American accent while the poor will have an American accent with influences from Polynesia and the American ghetto. This linguistic paradigm shift is already well under way especially in Auckland.

"But I think that, without relatively high immigration, New Zealand would almost certainly have suffered a net loss of population of recent decades. How many thousands could we have afforded to lose before we became un-viable as a nation?"
With New Zealand's economy being based on tourism and farm exports, we could argue the opposite. New Zealand's standard of living has dropped in tandem with the increase in population as the export base remains unchanged.