Is Auckland Council too white?
A major New Zealand newspaper recently ran an article about New Zealand’s most ethnically diverse city entitled ‘Is Auckland Council too white?
The piece was written by New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter Lincoln Tan who originates from Singapore.
The article cites an Auckland University study that has found 88 per cent of elected representatives on the council were European, while only 59 per cent in the city identify as such.
Report author Karen Webster stated that while there are issues with low minority voter turnout and candidates putting themselves forward, a solution would be getting rid of the ‘one voter, one vote’ system and having more proportional representation that reflected the makeup of the electorate.
"Maori had consistently stood their best candidates in local elections who never won in Pakeha (white) dominated electorates," she said.
The article then cites the example of Krystal Wen from China who has been in New Zealand for more than a decade but does not know if she is enrolled to vote, has never voted and does not know who her representatives are.
"I don't understand the issues, so I think it is better that I leave it to the people who understand them to do the voting," she said in Mandarin.
The article then refers to a Statistics NZ survey that found 60 per cent of recent migrants did not vote in the last election.
Upcoming candidates for Auckland's council include those who identify as Maori, Chinese, Indian, Samoan, Columbian, Fijian-born Chinese, as well as European.
One of these candidates, Dr Xiaoying Fu told the Herald:
"What an Asian or ethnic representative brings is the ability to communicate in another language, and the understanding of the needs of diverse communities,"
"I feel that Pakeha (white) members are also sometimes uncomfortable in dealing with residents who are not from the mainstream."
The gist of this article seems to be that European New Zealanders feel they have a stake in how their city is run and so they are the ones who predominantly stand as candidates and turn out to vote (which is a problem), while minority groups feel less allegiance to their host society and so do not bother as much. Once minorities do get elected then multiple interests have to be catered for (and this is a good thing).
You be the judge.
Read more here.