Posted on April 28, 2005

Peters Accused of Asian Scaremongering

Ruth Berry, New Zealand Herald (Auckland), Apr. 28

Winston Peters has been criticised for “scaremongering” over Asian immigration again, with National also casting doubt on Statistics New Zealand’s population projections.

The New Zealand First leader claimed this week that Maori would be outnumbered by Asians by 2021.

He cited Statistics NZ projections that Asian numbers would grow to 670,000 by then. But he omitted to mention that the projections said the Maori population would swell to 760,000.

Mr Peters stuck by his claim, however, arguing that Statistics NZ’s definition of Maori ethnicity was “questionable” and its Asian population projections were frequently too low.

Both National and United Future attacked Mr Peters for scaremongering. National MP Pansy Wong said the Asian community remained unworried by Mr Peters’ “latest bluster”, as they were “getting used to his anti-Asian crusades, always timed to coincide with elections”.

She also cast doubt on Statistics NZ’s projections — although for the opposite reason to Mr Peters — arguing that the figures were based on long-term arrival and departure numbers, which included international students and temporary permit-holders staying for more than 12 months.

“The figures assume that, from 2009, there will be a net annual gain of 14,000 Asians. Statistics show that has happened in only seven years since 1981, mostly through trends involving international students.”

Excluding those years, the annual increase in the Asian population had been just 6000, Mrs Wong said, adding that because of immigration policy changes, the number of Asian migrants had dropped 63 per cent.

United Future acting leader Judy Turner said: “You know it’s election year when Winston Peters is whipping up fears about the numbers of Asian immigrants.”

The statistics showed New Zealand’s natural population growth was slowing and the 65-plus age group was growing, she said.

“If Winston is going to continue to make grand gestures towards senior citizens then he has to explain how he is going to pay for it without measures to increase the working population.”

What Statistics NZ says . . .

* 670,000 Asian population of New Zealand in 2021.

* 760,000 Maori population in 2021.

What Winston Peters says . . .

* Asian population projection too low.

* Statistics NZ definition of ‘Maori’ too broad.