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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 1. 1967.

Moral obligation' to Pacific people Harre told students

page 12

Moral obligation' to Pacific people Harre told students

Curious Cove.—New Zealanders had a moral obligation to Pacific Islanders to take them into this country, Dr. John Harre told students at the Curious Cove Congress. He said there was also a strong case for bringing people of differing cultural backgrounds in as immigrants.

Dr. Harre said many of the smaller island communities were no longer viable. In not too many years the number of Islanders in New Zealand would equal the number of Maoris. "This is a fact that we must be prepared to accept," he said.

The recommendations of the Monetary and Economic Council on immigration were suspect in that its conclusion, which stated that immigration would lead to inflation, seemed to be based on British immigrants.

"II Japanese were brought into New Zealand we would be bringing in people who have the highest rate of personal saving in the world.

"New Zealand's immigration policy is decided behind closed doors but its obvious ethnic bias is easily seen by reading the daily press.

There seemed to be four main objections to immigration from non-European countries:

That there was a distinctive wav of New Zealand life, which was worth preserving and which the presence of non-British immigrants. would disrupt That British immigrants were the most easy to assimilate.

That immigrants from other countries were not easy to assimilate.

That there was a danger in the presence of other racial groups within New Zealand.

Dr. Harre said that any idea of a homogeneous national way of life was an illusion. It was best called the "God's Own Country" syndrome.

The myth was fostered by saying that if most people belonged to a certain group then everybody did.

"In any case, the people who put these ideas forward would reject most of the statistically distinctive features of life in New Zealand such as the high illegitimacy rate and the heavy consumption of alcohol as not belonging to this so-called New Zealand way of life." said Dr. Harre.

He admitted that it was true that people of similar cultures to the dominant New Zealand one would be more easily assimilated, but assimilation of other groups such as Chinese was not impossible.

Although first generation Chinese in this country had only been assimilated eco-nomically. the later generations assimilated fairly well, except in terms of their food, religion and eating habits.

"If we have a concept of assimilation it should not include immediate assimilation."

Dr. John Harre is senior lecturer in Social Anthro-pology at Otago University. He began a BSc degree in mathematics at Auckland University but left to spend three years looking around overseas. He returned to Auckland to get a BA in Anthropology and later gained a PhD, studying at London. He has written a book on mixed marriages in New Zealand called "Maori and Pakeha" and has done field work in Pitcairn Island studying the immigration process.

"Here we run into a neat social paradox. If you want assimilation you must not put up barriers against it. yet the people who argue most strongly for assimilation are the ones who put up these barriers."

There was no inherent conflict between races, Dr. Harre said. Conflict between different groups in a community usually resulted from a real or imaginary conflict of interests between the groups.

The degree to which group conflict is likely to start depended on the following factors:

Five Factors

  • The degree of scarcity of goods in the community.
  • The differences in values held by the groups.
  • The cultural differences be-tween the groups.
  • The factors acting toward prejudice. ("The degree of bloody-mindedness in the country").
  • The potential to form people into groups.

Dr. Harre said that the egalitarian nature of New Zealand society precludes competition. Political power was not eagerly sought after and jobs were freely available at any position on the status scale.

"However, there is some danger in the ethnic structuring of jobs and this is already happening to a certain extent with the Maori population."

Dr. Harre said the Dominion should avoid introducing groups with different values into New Zealand without first showing them where the differences lay.

He considered the personality aspect of prejudice "a bit of a red herring." Objections to the introduction of other groups based on the grounds of personal prejudice among some of the members of the community could be answered simply in terms of the mental health of the community.

This would not be altered one way or the other by introducing new groups into the country. "Prejudice generated merely because some individual needs a scapegoat is nothing but a crutch for a crippled personality."

"If the case for diverse immigration was established, several other things must go along with it," said Dr. Harre.

The number of immigrants must be related to the needs of the economy and the speed with which facilities can be provided.

A Recent executive meeting. The crosses indicate recent resignations —Ian McKinnon, vice-president and Elizabeth Shankland international affairs officer. Ian is teaching at Kings College Auckland and Elizabeth is living in Hamilton.

A Recent executive meeting. The crosses indicate recent resignations —Ian McKinnon, vice-president and Elizabeth Shankland international affairs officer. Ian is teaching at Kings College Auckland and Elizabeth is living in Hamilton.