Auckland too much like China says Chinese immigrant and real estate agent
I am a Chinese property agent working in Auckland. Recently I emailed the New Zealand First leader Winston Peters expressing opinions on the housing crisis and immigration policy.
I thought as I am an immigrant, who happens to have been sitting in the box seat of Auckland's real estate scene, the rest of the country might find relevancy in what I have to say.
My family moved to central Auckland in 2001 from mainland China. We came here with the hope of embracing a new lifestyle as well as for the younger generation to receive a superior education.
We remember Auckland as being a city with a unique blend of European and native cultures that is termed "Kiwi", while the influx of migrants from different ethnicities steadily added vibrancy, colour and prosperity to the city.
Years went by and something curious happened.
Instead of seeing a balanced ethnic mix, Auckland started to acquire an unwholesomely Chinese flavour.
There are poorly designed, cheap signs written only in Chinese or with minimal English at every corner of the central suburbs.
These are the supplement shops, internet cafes, restaurants plus a few seemingly dodgy places that are catering exclusively to Chinese customers.
Most of them have part time Chinese students as sole employees.
A recent encounter with two young Japanese professionals in Tokyo amused me.
"Going to Auckland is like going to China" they said.
"You don't hear English, you don't see Kiwis, there is just Chinese, Chinese and Chinese."
They felt disillusioned and bewildered. Similar voices are heard among local international students, "Are we here to study English or Chinese?"
The same relates to the real estate scene.
While the statistics show there has been 3-5 per cent foreign buyers in the market, is it what we have been seeing across the auction rooms or at open homes for the past half decade?
I remember seeing young couples with their hands clenched and eyes glued to the auction screen, only to find their first dream house outbid by someone screaming in mandarin.
And I shudder to imagine their feeling when they see the very house they missed out back on the market within a couple of months, this time, with 200k added on top ... meanwhile, a champagne is uncorked at another New Zealand property expo in China.
During a recent interview with Newshub, I was asked whether I was worried about Chinese domination. No, it is not, and never has been about any race dominating another. Otherwise it would be blunt racism.
It is about how do you want your Auckland and your New Zealand to be? Do we want trained, skilled professionals to bring our economy to the next level or all we want to see is another Chinese restaurant around the corner, or foreign visitors mistaking Auckland for China?
When New Zealand First's Winston Peters said many immigrants choose New Zealand when they have failed entering Canada, US, UK and Australia he is right.
At least it is a well perceived notion among my fellow Chinese that only the "less fortunate" choose New Zealand.
As a consequence, we have been absorbing lower quality immigrants who neither have the intention to assimilate to our culture nor the intention to set up all inclusive businesses that provide jobs for Kiwis.
In the event of any of the above-mentioned countries loosening their immigration policies, brace yourself for a downward ride: far fewer people will be willing to pay the same for your home or to lease your shop.
This is because while the property market has been reflecting an exhilarating population growth it is also fuelled by the widespread assumption that "the Chinese pay the most." It is irrational exuberance at its worst.
It is time for us New Zealanders to rethink.