How Have Chinese and Indian Immigrant Experience in New Zealand Differed? What Are the Crucial Factors Involved?

Published: 2021-09-12 16:05:12
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Migration has always been a major power in all history, but none more so than the last 150 years. People from all places of the globe have moved in unparalleled numbers and in numerous directions. Generated primary by colonial, then postcolonial geopolitical and economic reality, migration resulted in the arrangement of new societies. These communities became a place where beliefs, traditions and cultural practices from the migrants' country of origin were met with the host society. Some were lost, others continued unaffected and most were modified and adapted.
Previously and continuing today, migration has played a major role in population change in New Zealand (Ip, 2003). Changes in the immigration policies of New Zealand since 1987 saw an abundant of Asians migrating to the land of New Zealand. These changes opened up a mixture of immigration where entry to New Zealand was once based on skills chosen or needed in the place of work which inevitably, large numbers of new and diverse immigrants developed in New Zealand. It was then that migration (in particular from Asia ) grew rapidly, with China and India amongst the largest numbers to the growing population ( Poulsen, M., Johnston, R., & Forrest, J, 2000). This essay will solely focus on these two races (Chinese and Indian) explaining the differences in migration experiences.


Both the Chinese and the Indian groups primarily came to New Zealand in seek of economic betterment ( Sauers, D. A, 1993). The original migrants from both countries came from the landed rural peasantry. For both groups, 'sojourning' (the intent to go back to India and China with the fruits of economic gains) and 'chain migration' (migrants that were already in New Zealand encouraging family and friends to also migrate) were imminent features of early contact.( Sauers, D. A, 1993). But since changed once the New Zealand government altered its official policy towards 'non-white' immigrants resulting in the migrants who had arrived (thought as sojourners)to decide immediately whether to go back home or settle permanently. Most left, but a few stayed and formed the backbone of the New Zealand Asian community we see today.

The fundamental reasoning for dissension of migrants was their extensive difference in race and culture from the European, in which New Zealand was fitted for European colonisation and was governed by Europeans ( Banton, M, 2000). The term 'White New Zealand' was the main means to this. In 1879 Sir George Grey described in order to keep New Zealand 'white' then New Zealanders were to be white, and would need to be protected from the non-whites. He quotes,
" the future of the islands of the pacific ocean depends upon the inhabitants of New Zealand being true to themselves, and preserving uninjured and unmixed that Anglo-Saxon population which now inhabits it"( Banton, M, 2000; pg 485).
He further speaks of the particular danger of the Chinese race.

' The presence in this country of a large population of Chinese would exercise a deteriorating effect upon its civilization.'(Banton, M, 2000; pg 487)

Chinese were seen as a moral, social, religious, health and economic threat, and therefore had to be kept out of New Zealand at all costs (Murphy, 1996). Maintaining New Zealand as a 'white' society and protecting the living values of European New Zealanders was the principle of all the laws and policies endorsed against the Chinese.

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