Friday, June 30, 2017

Callout for Contributions to Mellow Yellow #8

Established in 2005, the first issue of the Mellow Yellow zine was first created over a decade ago aiming to explore what it meant to be Chinese living on colonised land. In conjunction with the upcoming Auckland Zinefest 2017, which will take place on the 30th of July, we have decided to release issue #8 of the zine and are searching for contributions both locally and internationally.  

For the 8th issue, we are hoping to have a dominant theme surrounding memories of migration or childhood experiences, in relation to gender and culture. Topics you could think about include: family heritage and histories, questions of identity and belonging, visiting your homelands after growing up in diaspora, intergenerational issues, tensions with family/community surrounding feminist politics.

However in saying this, we welcome any submissions reflecting Asian experiences in Aotearoa/New Zealand, this could include but are not limited to: experiences of oppression and discrimination due to identity, histories of colonialism, response to yellow peril narratives in the current state of politics, moments of solidarity in history or within personal experiences.

We welcome writing, artwork, poetry, rants, how-tos, prose etc. in te reo Māori, Pākehā or any Asian languages. Submissions are open to all genders but priority will be given to marginalized genders. Please note that you must be an individual of Asian heritage to contribute. Keep your writing style informal and accessible to all. The submission deadline is 15th of July, 2017. Email your work to us at
Mellow Yellow wishes to create more dialogue on issues which are specific to our experiences. It’s about opening up a space in which Asian feminists in Aotearoa can speak and communicate our specific and diverse experiences, to counter the dominant white feminisms and left-wing politics, to challenge colonialism, racism, sexism and all forms of unjust social hierarchy. We exist to support struggles for decolonisation, to create understanding between all oppressed peoples, to support each other, to inspire solidarity and organise collectively for a better world.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

We solemnly swear, Hobson’s Pledge is up to no good

Open letter from Asians Supporting Tino Rangatiratanga to Don Brash

Hey Don Brash, we remember your Orewa speech, trying to make it like “we are all New Zealanders now.” We remember how you used us migrants for your colonial agenda to whitewash differences and give legitimacy to your anti-Māori racism. You don’t get to talk about Māori privilege or favouritism under a system we can all so clearly see to be consistently racist against Māori. Maybe you can’t see it as clear, with that mud on your face (haha) and your white privileged lens.

This country was already “racially based” when your ancestors began to colonise. It was already “racially based” when the colonial state instituted laws dispossessing Māori from their lands and forcing assimilation/cultural genocide. It was already “racially based” with the poll tax, the dawn raids and the racially discriminatory immigration policies that privileged white settlers. It must be easy for you to forget the ‘white New Zealand’ immigration policy and claim we are all ‘Kiwi’ when clearly some are always more equal than others.  

As Asians living in colonised Aotearoa, we see right through your use of multicultural imagery to undermine tino rangatiratanga of tangata whenua. Your arguments are pale, stale, male and doomed to fail.

We are not all New Zealanders. Some of us reject the one-size-fits-all assimilating identity of “Kiwi”. We don’t want to subscribe to an identity that pleads allegiance to a nation-state that is illegitimate, founded on colonial injustices and continues to perpetuate white supremacy.

We are Tangata Tiriti and we don’t support your Hobson’s Pledge to maintain the status quo that is Pākehā favouritism. We don’t support your Hobson’s Pledge for colour-blindness that fails to recognise existing racial inequality and white supremacy. We don’t support your Hobson’s Pledge for willful colonial amnesia of the history (and present) of systematic dispossession, impoverishment, assimilation and mass incarceration of tangata whenua.

The system is by default based on Pākehā laws, Pākehā values, and Pākehā culture. You may not see that, but it’s easy for every other non-Pākehā living in Aotearoa to see. We have to assimilate to your culture, learn your language and navigate your boring, but deadly bureaucratic form-filling processes to survive here. The idea of “Māori privilege” is as big a fallacy as the claim that Māori ceded sovereignty in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Maybe try learning te reo Māori and reading the Māori version of the treaty, you will find no evidence of an agreement to cede sovereignty.   

We don’t buy your appeal to “one law for all”. This law will still be your law centring Pākehā capitalist cultural values and it will continue to entrench anti-Māori racism and settler colonialism. Your Hobson’s Pledge campaign is just another reincarnation of colonial racism to be honest.

We would rather pledge our allegiance to Māori struggles for tino rangatiratanga and mana motuhake. We want to see a decolonised Aotearoa, where Te Tiriti o Waitangi is actually honoured, where The Declaration of Independence is respected, where the visions from the Matike Mai report for constitutional transformation become reality.


Asians Supporting Tino Rangatiratanga

P.S. Don, you couldn't even be bothered taking your own photo, so how do you like this one?

Thank you to everyone who has helped with translating this to various languages to make this letter accessible to different migrant communities in Aotearoa. Please see below for Korean, Arabic, Traditional Chinese and Spanish translations for the letter.

우리는 홉슨 서약이 천하의 멍텅구리임을 엄숙하게 선언합니다.*
마오리족의 주권을 지지하는 동양인 그룹이 돈 브래쉬에게 전하는 공개 항의서

이봐요, 친애하는 전 당수님, 우리는 당신이 오레와에서 한 연설을 기억합니다. 우리는 이제 모두 뉴질랜드의 주민이라는 식으로 말씀하셨죠. 우리 이민자들은 당신이 우리 이야기를 어떻게 이용하려고 했는지 기억해요. 당신이 가지고 있는 반마오리 주의를 정당화 시키기위해 식민사상 위에 우리 이야기를 덮어씌우고 각 그룹 사이의 차이점을 지워버리려고 했죠. 
 당신은 마오리족의 특권이나 편파적인 정책의 혜택에 관해 얘기할 자격이 없어요. 우리 이민자들 눈에도 인종차별적인  제도들이 이렇게나 선명하게 보이는데 말이에요. 어쩌면 당신 얼굴에 묻은 진흙과 (하하) 백인 기득권층 특유의 굴절된 시선이 당신을 눈멀게 했는지도 모르죠.

이 나라는 당신네 선조들이 식민지화를 시작했을 때부터 이미 “인종차별적 기반”이 마련되어 있었어요. 식민정부가 마오리 땅을 앗아가는 법률들을  만들고 마오리 문화를 말살시키기위한 정책을 시행하기 전 부터 이미    “인종에 따른 차별적 기반”이 존재했다고요.  그 예로   인두세와  역사적으로 잘 알려진 새벽 습격들, 인종 차별주의적인 이민 정책들이 시행됐을 때부터 “인종적 차별 정책”은 우리와 함께했어요. 당신은“백인으로 이루어진 뉴질랜드”를 지양했던 이민정책을 잊어버리고 우리는 모두다 “키위”라고 주장하는건 참 쉽겠지요. 실제로 모든사람들이  모두  동등한 대우를 받는 키위가 아니라는것이 명백한 사실인데도 말이에요. 

식민지화된 아오테아로아에 사는 동양인들로서, 우리는 당신이 어떻게 다문화적 이미지를 이용하여tino rangatiratanga of tangata whenua, 이 땅의 정당한 주민들의 주권을 약화하려고 하는지 꿰뚫어 볼 수 있어요. 당신의 주장들은 흐리멍덩하고, 케케묵었고, 특권에 절어있고, 초라한 실패가 예견되어 있어요. 

우리 이민자들 그룹은 뉴질랜드인들로만 이루어진 게 아니에요. 우리들 중에는 뉴질랜드에서 살고 있다는 이유로  무조건  “키위”라고 불리워지는 것에 동조하지않고  거부하는 이들도 있어요. 부당하고 불합리한 식민 정책에 기반을 둔  국가 정부에 충성하고 있는 키위라는 정체성을 받아들이고 싶진 않거든요.  더불어 백인우월주의를 계속해서 이어가는 것도 싫고요. 

우리는Tangata Tiriti입니다. 그리고 우리는 파케하를 우대하고 있는 당신의 홉슨 서약을 지속적으로 유지하는 것을 바라지 않아요. 당신의 홉슨 서약은 색맹인지라 백인우월주의와 인종들 사이의 불평등을 인지하지 못하기 때문에 우리는 그 서약을 지지할수 없어요.
 당신의  홉슨 서약은 과거 자행되었던  체계적인 약탈과 빈곤화, 문화적 흡수와tangata whenua의 감금등이 현재까지 이어지고 있음에도 불구하고 의도적으로  이모두를기억에서 지워버렸지 않았습니까. 우리는 그 서약을 지지하지 않을것이며 지지 할수도 없습니다.   

우리 사회의 체제는 기본적으로 파케하적인 법률, 가치와 문화에 기반을 두고 있죠. 당신이 인지하지 못할지도 모르지만, 아오테아로아에 사는 다른 수많은 파케하가 아닌 이들은 쉽게 알아채는 사실이에요. 이곳에서 살아남으려면 우리는 당신네 문화에 동화되거나, 당신들의 언어를 배우거나, 당신들의 따분하지만 동시에 치명적인 관료주의적 서류 작성 절차에 따라야 하죠. 마오리가 특권을 누리고 있다는 생각은 그들이 자신들의 주권을 와이탕이 조약을 통해 양도했다는 주장만큼이나 잘못되어있어요. 마오리어로 된 조약을 한번 읽어보시고, te reo Māori에 대해 한번 배워보시는 게 어때요. 마오리족이 주권을 양도했다는 근거는 못 찾으시겠지만.

우리는 당신이 호소하고있는 “모두를 위한 하나의 법”에  속아넘어 가지 않을겁니다. 그 법규는 파케하 자본주의적 가치를 우선시하는 당신들의 법이겠죠. 그리고 그건 반()마오리 인종차별주의와  정착형 식민주의가 계속해서 이 땅에 뿌리내리게 하겠죠. 당신의 홉슨 서약 캠페인은 그저 당신의 식민사관에서 비롯된  인종차별주의의 다른 형태일 뿐이에요. 

당신의 홉슨 서약을 지지하기보다는 차라리 마오리족과의 유대를위해 노력하고  그들의tino rangatiratanga and mana motuhake를 위한  그들의 투쟁에  함께할 것을 맹세하겠어요.  우리는 와이탕이 조약이 실제로 효력을 가짐으로 해서  식민사관을 벗어난 아오테아로아를 보고 싶어요. 뉴질랜드의 독립 선언문이 존중 받고, the Matike Mai report for constitutional transformation가 제시한 비전이 실현되는 그 땅을. 

Asians Supporting Tino Rangatiratanga

추신: 전 당수님, 여기를 좀 봐주시겠어요? 당신은 홍보활동을 위해 직접 사진을 찍는 정도의 수고도 들이지 않으셨더군요. 

*해리포터 정식 번역에서 차용된 문장입니다.

嘿Don Brash!我們還記得你的Orewa演說,你試著讓我們以為”現在我們們全是一樣的新西蘭人”。我們也記得你如何利用移民族群來支持你的殖民思想,漂白所有族群間的不同,來合理化你的反毛利種族歧視。在這一個對毛利人的長期歧視,大家一目了然的制度裡,你無法談論毛利擁有特權或受偏袒。也許你無法看清事實,因為你臉上的泥巴(哈哈),還有你那帶有白人優越感的鏡片。



我們是Tangata Tiriti(遵守懷唐依條約的外來者),我們不支持你的Hobson誓言,來維持偏袒白人的現狀。我們不支持你的Hobson誓言,盲目地忽視眼前的種族不平等和白種人的優越。我們不支持你的Hobson誓言,來任意地赦免殖民時代的歷史罪惡、系統性的剝奪、貧困、同化和大規模的監禁原住民。



我們寧願誓忠於為了tino rangatiratanga(原住民對土地主權) 和 mana motuhake (原住民自治權)奮鬥的毛利人。我們希望看到一個非殖民的新西蘭,一個懷唐依條約被確實榮耀的地方,一個獨立宣言被尊重的所在,一個Matike Mai憲法改革的願景成真的國家。


في شهر سبتمبر 2016 بدأت حملة هوبست من قبل قائد التيار الوطني السابق دون براش ; بهدف الضغط على السياسين (المواطن) لرفض ما تصفه الحمله بالمعاملة التمييزيه للماوري (السكان الاصليين).الحمله تدعي انها لا تدعوا للتفرقه , و انما ان الماوري (السكان الاصليين) يحصلون على معامله مميزة و لذلك تدعوا لوقف القوانين العنصريه , و لوقف دولة تعاني عمى الالوان . تتنكر هذه الحملة على انها تدعوا المعاملة المتساويه , الا انها في الحقيقه مبنية على اسس عنصرية عن الماوري غير مبالية بالواقع السياسي في نيوزلندا. تقدمت جماعات كثيره لتستنكر هذه العنصرية البجحة وراء هذه الحملة.وقد شملت تقديم حقائق عن من هم بالفعل يتميزون بمعامله خاصه.
الثقافه و القوانين النيوزلنديه هي عباره عن نسيج للباكيها(الغربيين\ليسوا ماوري),حيث انها لا تعامل الماوري و الاقليات كما يعامل الباكيها.بالاظافه الى ذلك قد قامت الحملة بكل جرائة على تغيير حقائق تاريخية بدون احترام هدنه\اتفاقية الوايتانجي. "نحن الان شعب واحد" لذلك  هناك نداء الى كل الماوري و غير الباكيها للاندماج و الاستسلام لقوانين الباكيها .
الاسيويين الداعمون تينو رانجاتيراتانجا(السياده التامه) قاموا بنشر هذه البيان ردا على الحملة و رفضا للعنصريه, و داعمين لسيادة شعب الماوري.
- الاسيويين الداعمون لبيان التينو رانجاتيراتانجا(السياده التامه) ضد حملة هوبستز.
- لم نكن متحدين ابدا من قبل تحت القوانين الاستعمارية:حملة الاسيويين ضد وعد هوبست.
- نحن نتعهد بان حملة هوبست ليس لها أي منفعه.

- رسالة عامة من الاسيويين الداعمون لتينو رانجاتيراتانجا (السياده التامة).
مرحبا دون براش,نحن نتذكر خطاب اوريوا و محاولتك مدعيا ان "جميعنا نيوزلنديون".نحن نتذكر حينما استغليت الاجئيين لخدمة اجندتك الاستعماريه في كلس الاختلافات و تشريع العنصرية ضد الماوري.لا يحق لك الحديث عن امتيازات او تفضيل الماوري تحت نظام جميعنا يستطيع رؤية مدى عنصريته المستمره ضد الماوري.على الاغلب انك لا تستطيع الرؤية بوضوح بسبب وجهك المغطى بالطين و عدساتك ذات الامتيازات الغريبة. 
لقد كان هذا البلد ذا امتيازات عنصريه منذ ان قام اجدادك بالاستعمار .فقد كان البلد عنصريا عندما قامت الدوله الاستعماريه بتشريع القوانين تنفي الماوري من اراضيهم و اجبارهم على الاندماج وقمع ثقافة الماوري. قد كان عنصريا عندما عمم ضريبة عامه, قام بنزلات عسكريه ايضا عند تطبيق قوانين الهجره العنصريه التي فضلت المستوطنين البيض. من السهل عليك نسيان قوانين الهجره لبيض نيوزلندا(الغربيون الاوروبيون) وان تدعي اننا جميعا "كيوي",بينما من الواضح ان دائما هناك مساواة متفاوتة.
كأسيويون مقيمين في اوتيروا المستعمره , نحن نرا بوضوح الحقيقة وراء استخدامك لتعدد الثقافات للتقليل من اهميه التينو رانجاتيراتانجا للسكان الاصليين. الحجج التي تستخدمها شاحبه و محكوك عليها بالفشل. 
نحن لسنا جميعا نيوزلنديون.فالبعض يرفض تعميم الكل تحت الهويه الاندماجيه "كيوي".لا نريد الانتماء لهوية ولائها لدولة استعمارية غير شرعية مبنية على استبداد استعماري مستمر في نشر النفوذ الأوروبي/ غربي .
نحن "تانجا تيريتي " و لسنا مؤيديون لحملة هويسن للحفاظ على الوضع الحالي , أي تفضيل الباكيها (الغربيون\الاوروبيون).نحن لا نؤيد دعمكم لحملة هوبسن الذي يميل الى العمى في عدم قدرته على الاعتراف بالعنصرية و النفوذ الغربي للباكيها.نحن لا ندعم حملتكم لانها تهدف الى محو الماضي و الحاضر لما يعد افقار رغم الاندماج,تهجير و اعتقالات جماعيه عنصريه للسكان الاصليين.
النظام بالاساس مبني على قوانين ,قيم و ثقافة الباكيها.انت ربما لا ترى ذلك,لاكنه يسهل على جميع الغير باكيها الساكنين في اوتيروا رؤية ذلك.يجب علينا الاندماج في ثقافتكم ,تعلم لغتكم وسلك طرق بيروقراطية ممله للنجاة هنا. فكرة تمييزالماوري هي عباره عن خدعة لا تقل حجما عن كذبة ان شعب الماوري فقد السيادة عن طريق المعاهدة. ربما من خلال تعلم تي ريو ماوري(لغة الماوري) و قراءة نسخة الماوري للمعاهده\اتفاقيه, لن تتمكن من العثور على أي دليل يشير الى فقد السيادة.
نحن لا نؤمن بمناشدتك ل"قانون واحد للجميع".هذا القانون سيظل قانونك تتمركز فيه  قيمة الثقافه الراسماليه للباكيها و سوف تستمر بترسيخ المكافحه العنصرية ضد الماوري و استعمار المستوطنين.بكل صراحة,حملة تعهد الهوبسون الخاصة بك   هي مجرد نسخة اخرى للاستعمار و العنصرية.
نحن نفضل ان نتعهد بولاءنا لنضال الماوري للتينو رانجاتيرتانجا و ماناموتوهاك.نحن نريد ان نرى اوتياروا خالية من الاستعمار,اينما التيتيريتي وايتانجي مكرمون بالفعل,اينما 
رؤى تقريرالماكيتا ماي  للدستوري الانتقالي تصبح حقيقة.  


En Septiembre de 2017, la campaña del juramento a Hobson fue iniciada y encabezada por el ex leader del Partido nacional Don Brash para crear una presión política (y ciudadana) que se opusiera a lo que ellos describían como “tratamiento especial” para los Maorí. La campaña argumentaba que era separatista y que los maoríes recibían tratamiento especial y por lo tanto llamaban al término de leyes basadas en raza y a un estado sin colores. Disfrazada como un llamado a un tratamiento de igualdad para todos, la campaña estaba en realidad basada en antiguas creencias raciales hacia los maoríes y menospreciaba la realidad política de Nueva Zelandia. Varios grupos se han hecho presente denunciando el racismo descarado que se esconde en el mensaje de esta campaña. 

Esta ha incluido la presentación de hechos sobre quien en realidad recibe “tratamiento preferencial” La leyes y cultura de nueva Zelandia son sin duda leyes y cultura Pakeha que no trata a los maoríes y otras minorías de la misma manera que trata a los Pakeha. Más encima, esta campaña en forma descarada distorsiona y elimina hechos históricos y no acepta el tratado de Waitangi. La campana: “Nosotros somos ahora una gente”  es, por lo tanto un llamado para todos los maoríes y non-Pakeae a asimilar y rendirse a las  reglas Pakeha. 

Asiáticos apoyando Tino Rangatiratanga entregó esta declaración en respuesta  a la campaña para denunciar el racismo de esta campaña y expresar su apoyo para la soberanía maorí.  

Asiáticos en apoyo de la Declaración de Tino Rangatiratanga en Contra del juramento a Hobson 

Nunca hemos sido uno ante la ley colonia: asiáticos juran en contra del juramento de Hobson. 

Nosotros juramos solemnemente que el juramento de Hobson no desea lo bueno.  

Carta abierta de los asiáticos apoyando a Tino Rangatiranga

Oiga Don Brash, nosotros recordamos su discurso en Orewa, tratando de hacerlo como “todos somos ahora Neo Zelandeses” Nosotros recordamos como usted uso a los emigrantes para sus fines coloniales  de eliminar diferencias y dar legitimización a su racismo anti maorí. Usted no puede hablar de privilegio o favoritismo para los maoríes bajo un sistema donde todos podemos ver  claramente el constante racismo en contra de los maoríes.  Talvez usted no lo vea claro, con ese barro sobre su cara (haha) y sus blancos lentes de privilegio. 

Este país ya estaba racialmente definido cuando vuestros ancestros empezaron a colonizarlo. Ya estaba racialmente definido cuando el estado colonial institucionalizo leyes que despojaban a los maoríes de sus tierras y los forzaba a una asimilación/cultural de genocidio.  Ya estaba racialmente definido con la encuesta de los impuestos, allanamiento de madrugada y las políticas de inmigración racialmente discriminatorias que privilegiaban a los colonos blancos. Debe ser muy fácil para usted olvidarse de la política de inmigración “Blanca de Nueva Zelandia” y decir que somos todos Kiwis, cuando es claro que algunos son más iguales que otros. 

Como asiáticos viviendo en Aotearoa colonizada, nosotros vemos el uso que tú haces de las imágenes multicultural para menoscabar Tino Rangatiranga of Tangata Whenua. Tus argumentos son pálidos, viciados, masculinos y destinados a fallar. 

Nosotros no somos todos Neo zelandeses. Algunos de nosotros rechazamos la talla única de asimilación de identidad Kiwi. Nosotros no queremos suscribirnos a una identidad que jura alianzas a una estado nacional que es ilegitimo, fundado en injusticias coloniales y que continua perpetuando la supremacía blanca. 

Nosotros somos Tangata Tiriti y no apoyamos vuestro compromiso a Hobson para mantener el statu quo que favorece a los Pakeha. Nosotros no apoyamos vuestro compromiso a Hobson que se ciega ante los colores, que no reconoce la existencia de la inequidad racial y la supremacía blanca.  Nosotros no apoyamos vuestro juramento a Hobson que deliberadamente otorgar amnesia colonia de la historia (y presente) de sistemática desposesión, empobrecimiento, asimilación y masivo encarcelamiento de Tangata whenua. 

El Sistema es por defacto basado en leyes Pakeha, valores Pakeha y cultura Pakeha. Talvez tú no lo veas, pero es fácil verlo para otro que vive en Aoteroa y que no es Pakeha. Nosotros debemos asimilar vuestra cultura, aprender vuestro lenguaje y navegar tus fastidiosas pero mortalmente burocráticos procesos de llenado de formularios para sobrevivir aquí.  La idea de los “privilegios maoríes” es tan engañoso como decir que los maoríes cedieron su soberanía en Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Tal vez tratando de aprender el lenguaje maorí y leyendo la versión maorí del tratado, tú puedas encontrar que no hay evidencia de un acuerdo que cede soberanía.  

Nosotros no compramos tu apelación a “una ley para todo”. Esta ley siempre estará centrada en los valores del capitalismo cultura Pakeha y continuara atrincherando el racismo anti-maorí y ocupación colonialista. Para ser honesto, tu campana del juramento a Hobson es solo otra reencarnación de racismo colonial.

Nosotros preferimos jurar nuestra alianza con los problemas maoríes para tino rangatiratanga and mana motuhake. Queremos ver una Aotearoa descolonizada, donde él Te Tiriti o Waitangi es actualmente honrado, donde La Declaración de Independencia es respetada, donde la visiones del reporte de Matike Mai para la transformación constitucional sea realidad. 


Asiáticos respaldando Tino Rangatiranga

Friday, May 20, 2016

they said, don't go chasing waterfalls

Sometimes struggling not to be pushed down requires so much effort that it's easier to let yourself sink down. It's not a place of forward motion but at least you get to take a moment from your mental and emotional muscles working overtime. Eventually though, you're going to need to get back up to the surface for breath. You can't survive if you stay under water too long. 

I know that each journey back up the waterfall makes me stronger. Each swim takes me a little further, I can last a little longer. I hope that one day I'll swim beyond the top and put down something solid where I can tie down a rope long enough to reach the bottom so that no others need to fight their way to the top the way we need to. If I can find a rope long enough, that is. This farce only lasts so long before the need to swim upstream is weighed against the ease of letting gravity do what it does. 

And that's where I am today. You can't see my tears because sitting at the bottom of the waterfall, the heavy drops of wash my tears away from sight. I'm at the point where I'm done, exhausted. Will there ever be any respite?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Guest blog: Model minority and race relations: thoughts on the Asian students' assaults

By Alex Li

As a former international student, and now someone who does research on Chinese youth in Aotearoa/New Zealand, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be Asian or Chinese in New Zealand from a race perspective, more so after the attacks. As I was talking to some students for my PhD project in the last couple of years, l realised some things have changed for international students for the better, compared to ten years ago when I was an undergrad student. But then, many things haven’t changed. This continuity is revealing, especially in terms of the racial relations Asian[1] international students face.
Let me first get this out of the way, and say that racism is real, and is well alive in NZ. Apparently not everyone agrees on this, or believes that racially based structural impediments like a ‘bamboo’ ceiling exist. I personally know people who have changed their original Chinese names to something English, including their first AND last names. The whole point is to make their names look whiter, western, just so they have a better chance of getting job interviews and not getting filtered out just because their names on the resumes look ethnic. There’ve also been experiments which affirm that a job application from an applicant described as a returning New Zealand European is more likely to receive a favourable response than applicants described as Chinese immigrants, despite applicants having the same educational qualifications and occupational experience (Ward & Masgoret, 2007).
The attacks, also, must be contextualised in the race dynamics in NZ society. Being subject to prevailing racism renders a person Other, dehumanised, and hence more vulnerable to unjust treatment including physical assault.
So I’m not denying the racial element (along with a gender one) in these attacks. Asian students, particularly female students are indeed easier targets if just in terms of their average body size. Their visa status also makes fighting back a precarious option . Their relative lack of social networks in NZ, especially with mainstream society further makes them easy prey because there are less likely to be consequences for the offenders. But I’d like to point out there’s more to it. I’m saying the social distance between Asians and Māori and Pacific Islander communities contributes to the problem at hand, and this ‘problem’ is not one between Asians and Māori and Pasifika people, but one implicating all members of New Zealand racial structure, including the Pākehā, perhaps especially the Pākehā. Talking about this racial structure has everything to do with exploring more long-term solutions that take us beyond current punitive measures; the potential of aggravating Asians – Māori/Pacific racial tension is probably more pronounced than its intended security effect.
In order to talk about Asian international students, let’s first consider the relation between Asians and the local NZ society. Among the four major racial groups in NZ, namely European, Māori, Pacific people and Asians, Asian people are typically perceived as highly competent but low in warmth relative to other ethnic groups (Sibley et al., 2011). This combination of high competence—low warmth fits with the racial stereotype of Asians as high achieving and unsociable people. So not surprisingly, Asians receive the lowest level of warmth from all the other three groups; they’re discriminated against more often than Māori and Pacific peoples (Human Rights Commission, 2009) and generally seen as offering the greatest potential threat in terms of competition for jobs and resources by the other three groups (Sibley & Ward, 2013).
Interestingly, despite the way Asians are perceived by Europeans, Asians tend to perceive Europeans very favourably, and only Europeans, not the other groups. Indeed, there is a general pro-European bias among some ethnic groups, across countries, because people have a tendency to support the status quo, and see dominant groups’ dominance, privilege and status over them as fair and just (System Justification Theory). However, this tendency of warmth towards Europeans relative to other outgroups seems especially strong among Asians, who perceive Europeans just as favourably as their own ingroup (Sibley & Ward, 2013). In fact, Asians overseas, across nations have a tendency to align with the whites as the dominant group in a society, more than with other racial minorities.
This takes us to the model minority myth of Asians, a concept that has to be brought up in this kind of this discussion. Model minority stereotype is a biased representation that portrays Asian people overseas as hardworking, high achieving and at the same time submissive, compliant to authorities, never causing troubles, in other words, the opposite of African Americans in the States, or Māori or Pacific peoples in NZ. It may sound like a positive image, but it’s not. Model minority stereotype is a tool of white supremacy, a tool of social control through racial profiling. It rewards and encourages Asian people’s social and political subjugation while reinforcing the image of Māori and Pacific groups as unruly trouble-makers, burdening the welfare system, and all the negative stereotypes you’re familiar with. And in the middle between them are the white people and the dominant structures they represent and operate, who act as a proxy between the yellow ones and the brown ones, praising the ones that behave and disciplining the ones that don’t, being a “good parent”.
You may want to ask though, why are they the parent? Even if Asians are the new kid in the ‘family’, shouldn’t there by two parents, according to the Treaty of Waitangi?
So the model minority image is not an honour. It’s more like a fake promise to white privilege which will never realise. Besides, this image is often used to hide existing inequalities, and disadvantages faced by the Asian community. For example, statistics show that as a whole, the heterogeneous Asian population is often better educated, but less likely to be employed than the general population; while Asians report lower median income level than the population, Chinese have lower income level than the average Asian population (Statistics New Zealand, 2013). But these adversities often go unnoticed and unreported, as compared to the image of Chinese people at house auctions, which does not help with the already prevalent negative perceptions of Asian population.
There’s also the argument that Asians’ racial relation to Māori has to do with the unresolved tension between biculturalism and multiculturalism in New Zealand (Bartley & Spoonley, 2004; Ward & Masgoret, 2008). Māori, the indigenous group, are already subject to continued political and cultural marginalisation, so the influx of immigrants, especially new Asian immigrants are perceived as competition for already limited resources and cultural recognition, or, as diluting the government’s commitment to ensuring Māori’ rights to resources (Ip, 2003). However, research indicates Māori actually express more support for multiculturalism, and more appreciation for diversity, than Asians and Europeans. In general, everyone in NZ seems to support the idea of NZ as a multicultural society, but once it comes to reshuffling resource distribution, support level drops to pretty low, except with Māori and Pacific peoples (Sibley & Ward, 2013).
This means it’s very problematic to set up Asians and Māori and Pacific communities in an opposing relation, as especially noticeable in popular discourse after the attacks. As we talk about Asian-Māori relations in particular, it’s important to educate ourselves about NZ’s neo-colonial past and present, to acknowledge the role of Pākehā in the continued distributive injustice and structural inequalities faced by Māori and Pacific people, to re-examine Asian communities’ alliance with white domination, and NOT to reduce our relation to Māori communities to a competing, even antagonistic one. A successful multicultural society is based on all ethnicities receiving equal recognition and developing relationships of collaboration and appreciation instead of competition, and Māori and Pacific peoples are not the ones who’re hindering this process.
Now we move onto Asian international students.  The exclusion they experience is on multiple levels. Firstly, the facilities and services offered by NZ education institutions often do not match up with their image being promoted overseas for student recruitment, and there’s a stark lack of attention paid to international students’ social and emotional needs. The impression that ‘we don’t care about you as much as about your money’ is felt among the students. In a 2004 survey, only a minority of international students viewed coming to New Zealand for education as good value and reported willing to recommend it to prospective students (Ward & Masgoret, 2004). From 2003 to 2012, the number of international students enrolled in almost all types of export education providers in NZ saw a continuous drop, particularly among students from China, South Korea and Japan (while the revenue brought in consistently rises) (Ministry of Education, 2013). A survey in 2011 reported high satisfaction among international students with their institutions, but a breakdown of result shows satisfaction level with learning experience greatly outscores ratings with living and support services, with students from Institutes of Technology and Polytechnic sector in particular reporting low satisfaction in these aspects, which appears under analysed (Generosa, Molano, Stokes, Schulze, & others, 2013).
This leads to the interpersonal level of exclusion. The 2011 survey results show a continuation from earlier reports (Ward & Masgoret, 2004) in that international students find it difficult to form friendships with local New Zealanders, and perceive that New Zealanders aren’t interested to know them better (Generosa et al., 2013).
Compared to Asian international students, students coming from Europe, North America, South America and Australia (ESANA) who are more similar to New Zealanders in terms of language and cultural background did report feeling more included in classrooms and receiving more social support, but they were also less likely to believe that New Zealanders are friendly. In comparison, Asian students are more likely to see building friendships with local New Zealanders as difficult, and believe that New Zealanders are not interested in having international friends and report lower life satisfaction (Ward & Masgoret, 2004). Language ability, nationality and cultural background are the three most common perceived reasons for negative treatment (Generosa et al., 2013). In particular, Chinese students who make up the largest percentage of international students tend to have fewer New Zealand friends than the other international students and perceive more discrimination (Butcher & McGrath, 2004; Ward & Masgoret, 2004). Consistently, they express lowest level of satisfaction with living and academic experience in NZ (Ward & Masgoret, 2004; Yang, Li, & Sligo, 2008).
Lastly, for Chinese internationals students, there may be an extra dimension of marginalisation from their co-ethnic community, the settlers’ community in NZ. I’ll mostly talk about Chinese students here because this is the group I’ve worked with for my research and  I don’t know how much I can generalise my findings to other Asian groups. For Chinese International students, they are often not seen as part of the local Chinese community because of their student status, which renders their stay in NZ as more temporary and short-term. Immigrants or settlers, are typically not hugely interested in their well-being, though with the increasing number of new immigrants, who are more likely to share unifying ethnic identity and cultural values as international students, this might be changing.

I’m aware some Chinese from local immigrant community are very engaged in offering better protection for the students since the attacks happened. The ‘older’ Chinese immigrant communities however, may be more distant. In particular, there’s a noteworthy dynamic between settler youth—Chinese youth who were born or raised in NZ - and Chinese international students, who are sometimes, not typically, but commonly enough, referred to by settler youth as FOB Chinese –Fresh Off the Boat. Accordingly, there’s very little interaction between the two groups, as settler Chinese youth often associate with other settler youth, or local New Zealand youth, or sometimes even make an effort to distance themselves from Chinese international students. This distancing is quite telling, because it shows settler Chinese youth are aware of the negative stereotypes against Chinese; often they’ve been subject to racism themselves. A high proportion of Asian settler youth in New Zealand have experienced racial discrimination in varied forms including name-calling, being told to go home and social exclusion (Bartley & Spoonley, 2008). As a defence mechanism, they’re compelled to try VERY hard to integrate, even assimilate, into NZ mainstream society, and that sadly, in NZ context, often involves getting rid of their ‘Chineseness’, and not associating with people who are perceived as ‘too Chinese’, ‘too FOB’, such as Chinese international students. Again, this comes back to racism. The settler youth’s response to international students is partially a matter of cultural difference, but the underlying struggle around acceptance and assimilation they have to go through should not be overlooked.
So overall, segregation is evident for Asian international students.  This is not the kind of imposed segregation like that in the States before the civil rights movement, but it’s nonetheless very real, and needs conscious intervention, and it needs to be from both sides, or multiple sides.
This is not about pointing fingers, but neither do I wish to frame Asian students as passive victims of racism. Developing a connection with the host society involves two-way interactions. NZ local society is responsible for Asian students’ marginalisation, but on the other hand, there are things Asian students can do to foster better inter-racial, and intra-racial understandings. For example, Chinese international students also report having more co-ethnic friends than other students groups, and less willingness to make efforts to initiate friendships with New Zealanders. Asian community in general report very limited personal contact with Māori (Bartley & Spoonley, 2008). On the other hand, we also know from research that warmth between ethnic groups tends to be reciprocated (Sibley & Ward, 2013) (perhaps with Asians’ warmth to Pākehā as an exception) and greater contact with New Zealanders is associated with decreased perception of discrimination, increased feelings of cultural inclusiveness and greater satisfaction with social support (Generosa et al., 2013; Ward & Masgoret, 2004).
Speaking from personal experience, which I’m sure many readers can relate to, I find Māori peers warm and welcoming, sometimes more so than Pākehā peers, maybe partly because Asian cultures actually bear more resemblance to Māori or Pacific cultures than with Pākehā  cultures. So what stops us from learning Te Reo Māori? From appreciating their cultural practices (and not just in the form of cultural tourism such as a institutionally funded 5-day marae retreat which yields no sustained understanding of modern urban Maori lives)? What stops us from making an effort to know our Māori or Pacific peers? That is a question we all need to ponder on.
I’d like my input here, which is more like a summary of previous work done in the field, to be a prompt for further discussion, rather than a solution or conclusion. The result, or rather, the starting point I wish for is that Asians and Māori/Pacific peoples are able to see each other as real humans. The panel discussion held last Friday made it clear that Asian international students aren’t seen this way, and that’s an unfortunate result of the race relations I’ve outlined above. Yet, assault of another human being is often a result of dehumanisation of the victim. Given the lack of mutual understanding between Asian students and Māori and Pacific youth, it’s reasonable to believe Asian students are more vulnerable to such violent ordeals because they’re in a position more likely to be dehumaniāed. Then Asian communities’ dehumanisation of Māori and Pacific community as criminals or offenders due to this gap in mutual understanding is only going to contribute to a vicious cycle.
Racism is hard to combat, because ultimately it’s a structural and systemic issue. Equity in resource distribution is a challenge for policy makers, and changing negative representation of Asians or for Māori and Pacific people implicates efforts from mainstream media. But on an individual basis, we do have capacity to negotiate our positioning in NZ society, to forge better intercultural contact, which is a strategy to enhance ethnic perceptions and relations, and perhaps most importantly, to stop relying on Pākehā as cultural, social even legislative brokers, and  rethink our strategy to demand protection from authorities (e.g., police, government) without making an attempt to see, and be seen by the kaitiaki of this land.
Asians in the United States have offered us an example for reference with the ex-NYPD officer Peter Liang’s case. Following Liang’s sentencing, there were split reactions and debates within Asian communities which would affect Asian-African relations. Some protested the conviction in support of Peter Liang on the basis that there were white cops who got away with murdering black people and saw Liang’s conviction as racial scapegoating. However, other members of Asian communities such as #Asians4BlackLives and CAAAV Organising Asian Communities responded back with demanding #JusticeForAkaiGurley and his family and have been challenging anti-blackness in Asian American communities. They argued that all police officers regardless of ethnicity should be held accountable and the priority should be to support the families of the victims of police violence. Asian youth have actively joined in solidarity movements with African American communities. In doing so, they’re not only raising awareness of the divided relation between the two ethnic communities, but also pointing out the real issue is not one between these two communities but one with existing racial structure where white domination is maintained at both communities’ expenses and that Asian American complicity in anti-blackness needs to end.

Perhaps similar to Liang’s case, there have also been split reactions from members of Asian communities in response to the attacks but the realness of violence in NZ against Asian students has knocked an otherwise unseen and unheard group of people into existence. Now that we’re seen, what we say and do matters more than ever.


[1] In the context of this paper I’m mostly using ‘Asian’ to refer to East Asians -- people from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.

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