The migrant is the emerging mainstream
The issues facing ethnic communities in New Zealand are multidimensional, complex and variant. The problems also depend on the method of entry, socio-economic and educational background, and cultural and religious affiliations.
New Zealand is seeing an influx of various community groups adding to the traditional population mix of Maori and those of European descent.
The largest of these are people from Pacific Islands, followed by Indo-Fijians after the 1987 coup. Since then, migration has grown to cover China, India, the Philippines and other parts of the world under the Skilled Migrant Residence Category.
Immigration policy changes since the 1990s have resulted in more migrants entering New Zealand as international students or migrant workers.
Those arriving from countries will similar culture and lifestyle would find settling here easy, whereas others will find it difficult to assimilate a totally different system.
Children are among the most adversely affected migrants as they face the conflict between school and home, a lack of confidence, low self-esteem, manifestation of anger and resentment leading to drug abuse, delinquency and the urge become rich ‘somehow.’
Some of them also become suicidal.
In some cultures as those of the Pacific, a clear role, identity, demarcation of right and wrong, achievement and failure were taught at home and in schools.
The Western framework and non-tertiary education system create conflicting interests.
Some migrant children, devoid of family values, fail to cope with the challenges of life, resulting in confrontation with parents at home, teachers at schools and elders in the society.
It is unfortunate that the result is disastrous with the meltdown of family units.
Marriages also become farce with conflicting ideas, traditional and modern values, matrimonial quarrels and family violence.
Many issues of social and domestic issues can be solved through a better understanding of the youth and instilling the value of discipline in the young minds.
The young generation should also be guided to cope with the changing world dominated by technology. The mind-set being created is that mankind is superior to other living beings, and that world resources are endlessly at our disposal.
We do not teach our youth to respect Nature, preserve and promote its bounty. We are almost oblivious to its laws and powers despite the natural disasters that are at our doorstep on a daily basis now.
Ethnic minorities also face the challenge of preserving their culture, language, traditions, with limited scope to practice them in their adopted country. Children grow up with scant knowledge of their culture, language and family values, with increasing hazard of losing it all.
There is therefore logic in their demand for language schools and avenues to promote and celebrate their traditions and festivals.
Ethnic New Zealand is emerging as a strong force; that is the reality and the shape of things to come. Are we ready for such a massive change? Are our policy makers and those in governance aware of the challenges that we will face as a community, society and country? Will the current majority, relegated in the future, accept the reality? Will they resist or take efforts to merge into the ‘future mainstream?’