Diverse range of opinions on 'Kiwi values'

9:09 pm on 14 June 2016

New Zealanders on the street have a mixed range of views about how to define Kiwi values and whether refugees should be made to subscribe to them.

The current New Zealand flag flies up a flag pole.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

ACT Party leader David Seymour is demanding refugees sign up to so-called Kiwi values before being allowed into the country, following the government's announcement it will increase the refugee quota from 750 to 1000 in two years' time.

More on the refugee quota boost

RNZ News spoke to people in Hamilton to find out just what Kiwi values were, and whether they believed refugees should be forced to share them.

Honesty, good clean living, respecting Māori culture and multiculturalism, treating women equally, and New Zealand's "clean green" image were some of the values Hamiltonians said they held dear.

They also held diverse opinions about whether refugees should adopt those values.

Painter Jason Sharn said refugees were entitled to their own beliefs, but should follow the basic rules of Kiwi society.

"If they are coming to our country they should sort of go by our rules and try and assimilate into our society rather than stay in their own little groups and just all in one area.

"If they are going to come and live in this country, live by this country's rules."

And Guoquian Feng, a cafe owner who came to New Zealand from China 16 years ago as a skilled migrant, said refugees should respect Kiwi values of fairness, democracy and freedom.

"You should be integrated with the Kiwi community. You should follow the customs in public. But of course privately, in your family, your country's, the mother country's values you save."

But hospital finance manager Scott Fisher said New Zealanders should embrace refugees' cultures as much as they embrace ours.

He said for him Kiwi values were about looking out for one another, and working together as a community.

"I don't think it's something that means you have to follow rugby, follow the All Blacks, participate in whatever we do on Saturday night, going down to the pub whatever it may be. It's more about togetherness in our country really."

Waikato Migrant Resource Centre operations manager Ellie Wilkinson said there was no need to sign refugees up to a set of values.

"Refugees come here aligning to many of our values. They very much want to contribute, they very much want to look after their families, they want their children to be educated, they want to be seen as a good citizen, and they want to be seen as hard workers and I think those are all core values that we all have as New Zealanders."

Prime Minister John Key said he thought Kiwi values were about understanding the history of New Zealand and the place of the Treaty of Waitangi.

"I think it's understanding that New Zealand has always been a tolerant society where there is freedom of the press, freedom of the individual, I think it's about the way we treat other people, our place in the world."

Red Cross secretary-general Tony Paine said New Zealand risked losing its cultural diversity if it asked everyone to conform to a standard norm, and the suggestion of a values statement for refugees was not helpful.

"I think that's the problem because I don't think that there is a good consensus within New Zealand about what those values might be. I think those are often areas of contest in our society."

Mr Paine said Mr Seymour's idea missed the point, and that New Zealand had to play its part in facing the refugee crisis.

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