I support Deputy PM’s stand on multiculturalism where he talks about having a New Zealand culture: Labour’s Michael Wood

I support Deputy PM’s stand on multiculturalism where he talks about having a New Zealand culture: Labour’s Michael Wood

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities and MP for Mt Roskill Michael Wood has come out in support of the Deputy Prime Minister's recent remarks on multiculturalism saying, “I have heard Mr Peters recently talking about forging a New Zealand identity. A unique Kiwi identity, if you will.”

“He is not talking about one culture dominating another. He is simply stating that we need to have our own unique cultural identity as New Zealanders. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. People sometimes misinterpret what he says.”

“See, I personally don’t believe in the melting pot concept, where new arrivals are expected to leave their cultural traits behind. Where there’s an expectation of assimilation. I think New Zealand will be better off when new arrivals bring their own cultures with them, and integrate with the New Zealand society. So integration instead of assimilation is the key,” he added, while talking on the sidelines of the opening of Labour Party’s new office at Maungakiekie. 

Our take: In response (defence) to the Deputy PM’s stand on multiculturalism

Liberals, in today’s world, are guilty of one thing. That is not listening to the other side. When Donald Trump became the US President, liberals didn’t pause to think that maybe failure of the liberal icon – President Obama – to listen to the plight of middle-class blue-collar-white-America, was one of the major reasons. Liberal media, goes a step further. While not listening to the other side, it also just fills in the blanks to suit its editorial slants.

Take for example the recent interview of the Deputy PM by Newstalk ZB’s Leighton Smith, and how it was reported. 

If one actually watches (or listens to the interview, as it is radio after all), Smith asks a very leading question to the Deputy PM. He quotes extensively from an article - Preserve nation, cut immigration - published in The Australian written by Sherry Sufi, who is the chairman of the Western Australia (WA) Liberal Party’s policy committee. This is the same party, which joined hands with the nationalist right-wing Pauline Hanson’s One Nation last year, and lost the WA state elections after ruling the state for eight-and-a-half years.

Moreover, Sufi is known – as reported by the ABC News – for his linking of same-sex marriage with polygamy and polyamory, and saying that recognising Indigenous Australians in the constitution was "a move to divide the country".

It seems, Sufi’s Party hasn’t learnt anything from 2017’s crushing defeat, and is poised to carry on with its change of tact – immigration bashing and anti-multiculturalism rhetoric. Well, more power to him, as this is his, and his party’s democratic right.

Coming back to the interview of the Deputy PM in question, which some media outlets reported as his take on multiculturalism. 

It’s a 14 something minutes long interview. Right at the very end, Smith frames his question for about 16 seconds, while asking the Deputy PM what he thinks of multiculturalism in New Zealand.

Peters reply is for about 18 seconds, where he says, “There is one cultural thing we want developed in this country and that's the New Zealand culture. That's a unique culture that's New Zealand. It's not a multitude of cultures and a plethora rising up like mushrooms in this country. No, we want a New Zealand culture. That's what I've always stood for."

Now, obviously, while liberal media has very right to jump on it, and claim that Winston is back to his old ways, it will help if we can just pause and think. What is the Acting PM actually saying?

He is not talking about a Christian culture, or a Pākehā, or a Māori culture. Nor is he talking about one culture dominating others. He is just saying “we want a New Zealand culture”, “a unique culture that’s New Zealand”. Now, who can argue against that.

Aotearoa is a young country, where the debate is still on, about adopting cultural and national symbols. Two years back, we had a referendum on the national flag. Some [read the current minister of justice Andrew Little] think that the national anthem is a “dirge”. 

All these, and much more, form part of a nation’s cultural, social identity. And every modern nation state has gone through the process of zeroing these. New Zealand will too, in its own sweet time, and a unique culture will eventually emerge.

Granted though, may be the Deputy PM’s blueprint, on how we can reach to a “unique New Zealand culture” is not properly phrased. So this is what is going to happen. [not prophesying here, just learning from history]

Much like Māori and Pākehā earlier, people coming to New Zealand now, are bringing a multitude of cultures – “a plethora rising up like mushrooms” - and will integrate over time [process is ongoing].

This will give rise to a even more beautiful, and a very unique New Zealand culture.

A “100% Pure New Zealand” - if we can borrow Tourism New Zealand’s phrase here.

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