NZ immigration thoughts
Reflecting on NZ immigration history and long-term investment
Dr Rajen Prasad, one of the few ethnic Members of Parliament, delivered his valedictory speech in the Debating Chamber on July 24, 2014. His speech was very powerful and of a kind that the walls of Parliament would not have heard before.
He took us on a journey of his 49 years, which began as an international student and ended as a departing MP. He was not immune to the problems related to immigration. He had been helped by a Kiwi schoolteacher (now 90 years old), who was also present at the event.
NZ immigration thoughts
This got me thinking of my first days in New Zealand, also as an international student. The same was true of many of my friends around me.
How we used to immigrate to NZ
To get Permanent Residence, we only needed to show that we had been in New Zealand for a certain length of time to be eligible for this category. There was no need for a job offer, no assessment of qualifications or relationship with someone living here. It was very easy.
Many of my fellow students took up this offer and became permanent residents in New Zealand. For those of us that qualified, it was ‘manna’ from heaven.
Students who remained in New Zealand have come a long way. From modest beginnings to true partners, they contribute to New Zealand’s progress and prosperity. Among them are ministers, lawmakers, corporate leaders, community leaders, and prominent professionals.
They carry with them gratitude and appreciation. They work hard to make our communities grow. They are always keen to give back to the country that shaped their future. Most importantly of all, they are great citizens.
Promoting New Zealand
Some chose otherwise, but when they went back to their home countries, they became New Zealand’s best advocates. They got jobs in government or in private enterprises with good prospects.
Many of them have reached high offices, such as chairpeople, CEOs, directors, or even as Prime Minister. They have strengthened their links with New Zealand and have seldom missed opportunities to give credit to New Zealand as the country that enabled them to undertake leadership roles.
NZ’s best allies
Such people became our best allies in foreign trade negotiations, exercising their influence in the decision-making process. Many of them also promoted New Zealand as a destination for business, their children’s education, and tourism.
New Zealand – a place to grow
Dr Prasad shared his memories of beautiful New Zealand and its friendly people in his valedictory address. It was clear he saw New Zealand as a place that allowed true merit to flourish and was free of greed, a place where migrants were respected for the knowledge and skills they possessed and not the size of their bank balance.
There was an inexplicable innocence, yet wisdom existed. It was a society that tolerated and understood human investment and the long-term gain from it.
With this as my background, my NZ immigration thoughts leave me in despair. The assumptions and predictions of the current policy framework are flawed because they ignore the intangible benefits of migration. The framework is couched in the language of entitlement and privilege.
This is our future!
This will be the New Zealand our children will know, not the New Zealand that I have learnt and experienced, nor the New Zealand Dr Rajen Prasad spoke about in Parliament.
What stories the victims of the new New Zealand will tell their children, I dread to think!